By: Dan Bittinger, Derek Houser, and Katie Landy


Organization refers to how the ideas flow in a written piece. Many students struggle in this area because they simply write down ideas or thoughts as they think about them and do not stop and assess how the information they are giving should fit into what they are saying. Written forms of communication that are used today (text message, instant message, etc.) are meant to be quick and abbreviated and do not require any organization of thought. When students do formal written pieces they have to decide on a central idea and then write based on that idea. The information that follows needs to support that central idea and keep the information moving in one direction. This is true of both creative and expository writing assignments. Based on the type of written work that a student is doing he or she needs to decide what the criteria will be for the written assignment. Students may compare and contrast, state positives and negatives, create a step-by-step procedure, use events chronologically or any other number of ways to organize. The most important attribute of organization is that the writing flows so that the reader remains interested, can follow what he or she is reading, and is able to obtain the information the author is hoping to divulge.

Transitions are also a part of organization. Writers have to be able to connect their thoughts and show how different parts of a work relate to one another. The reader has to be able to make these connections and follow the path laid out by the written work. Once all the main ideas are connected and covered the author then brings the work to a logical conclusion that shows that conflict has been resolved or the purpose of the writing has been fulfilled, usually while leaving some area of further thought for the reader for what the ideas mean beyond just the scope of the written piece.

The following link shows some good terms, concepts and strategies for improving educational skills.

One major program that has been developed to help improve student organization is step up to writing. Many schools in the area use Step Up to Writing as a tool to help show students sentence, paragraph and essay structure, show how to support central themes, and work on transitions. In an interview it may not be a bad idea to bring up step up to writing as a program you are familiar with. For more information go you can check out the following link:

Finally, another way to improve your students writing organization is to use graphic organizers. Graphic organizers allow the students to visually break down what they are writing and put ideas down in a more organized fashion, allowing them to think about their ideas and try to place where ideas belong instead of simply writing what comes to mind right as it comes to mind. They can be used as an effective pre-writing activity and can allow the teacher to check organization before the writing begins. Here are some sample graphic organizers you can consider using


The instructional video below covers the 6+1 Traits for Writing and focuses on the Organization trait.

The next video is a "cheesy" song that reminds viewers that organized writing should include a good lead, a focus, structure, and flair.

Digital Story

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs eBook

Having the students read the eBook on a Kindle or equivalent piece of technology allows more flexibility to the teacher. The students can feel free to highlight, comment, and mark up the book...something that is frowned upon in the education setting if done to hard copy books. Also, since it is already in electronic format, a text-to-speech converter can be easily implemented for students who require that scaffold or accommodation. Students can also zoom in on the text to make it whatever size they can read best and is most comfortable for them. This obviously cannot be done with a hard copy of the book. If the book is on an iPad, students can sync it with other apps and use it for whatever assignments the teacher comes up with...the possibilities are limitless!


Graphic Organizers

  • Pre-writing activities

  • Structure writing projects

  • Organize information into logical patterns

  • Help students to generate ideas and plan a course of action


Reading Like a Writer

Students who have difficulty organizing their own writing sometimes struggle to see the organization of what they read. Provide such students with stories or other text that you have cut into individual sentence strips. Challenge the students to work collaboratively to put the strips in the correct order. To conclude the activity, ask the students to present their finished story and explain why they organized it in the way that they did.

This activity comes from It can be adjusted to incorporate technology. For example, you could allow the students to manipulate sentence strips using the SMARTBoard.

MapQuest/Google Maps Activity

Students write directions from one location to another. Using MapQuest or Google Maps, they check the accuracy of their directions. This activity emphasizes the importance of order/sequence.


Building a Description by Jim Linde

I'm King of the World! by Karen Ferrare

The Foolish Tortoise and the Greedy Python by Lin Steele

Discussion Question

Can be found on the discussion board by clicking the thumbtack at the top of the page!