Top Ten Writing Tips

The authors at PublishMeNow have comes up with this excellent list of Top Ten Writing Tips – specifically for teachers and budding educational writers!

1. Always Plan

One of our key Media Studies writers says: “When I first started writing resources I would always rush into writing it from scratch… Then I would spend ages re-arranging and re-writing the first draft, as the structure was not right to begin with. To avoid this happening I learnt to sketch out the constintuent parts of the resource to get an overall picture of the whole thing.  When I had all the sections I needed to cover I wrote them out onto separate post-it notes or index cards. I then arranged them on a large table or use a cork board to see the whole journey of the resource from beginning to end.

With this overview it became clearer where certain sections will work or not work and also any gaps in the resource became glaringly obvious.  When I had re-arranged and filled in all the gaps for the resource, then it was time to start getting into the detail.  This process enabled me to more efficient during the editing phase, as the structure and spine of the resource was pretty solid and didn’t need dealing with.

That way, I could concentrate on the nitty-gritty of the resource.”

You may not need to lay it all out on cards, but our authors are clear that planning is essential!

2. KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid!)

Always think ‘how can I simplify this’ so that every reader can access its meaning. Keep it simple – you’re not trying to impress your reader with your cleverness, you’re trying to make them understand. If you’re writing for kids, get kids to read bits to see if they understand the point you’re making.

3. Leave on a High Note

Always finish a writing session during a passage that is going well. Make a note of what you’re going to write about next. Then when you start again you can get straight into it and not sit for a couple of hours working out what to do.

4. Be Student-Friendly

Don’t necessarily write in a stereotyped academic text-book way.  Write sometimes as if you’re trying to help your favourite student, without being too colloquial.  By doing this you won’t be afraid to put your own special stamp on your work.

5. Follow the Spec

When you are writing follow the exam board specification. Always have it sitting beside you.

6. Break it Down

Teachers are always in a rush and skim read. Make things easier and clearer for them – use bold, italics, sub-headings and bullet points when setting information out.

7. Give it Time

Fresh eyes are better at spotting mistakes. Print your work out and put it to one side for a few days.  Often you see things from a different perspective and fresh eyes. A printed copy is easier to step back from and annotate with changes too.

8. Try it on the Kids

The best resources are tried and tested.  Try out explanations and exercises on a class before producing a final version. That usually throws up some glitches that need sorting, and will help you to see whether or not activities are practical.

Or if possible, get someone with little or no knowledge of the subject to read your text (in chunks as you compose it) and quiz them on what they have ‘learnt’ (or not) from it.

9. Give it to a Colleague…

Carefully check your own resource, and then hand it over to a reliable colleague for further checking. What might seem obvious to you may not seem obvious to others. Final review it once more yourself – only then forward it to ZigZag.

You can also get them to read your work aloud to you.  You know how it should be read and where the emphases should fall, but hearing someone else read it will immediately identify any passages where the meaning is ambiguous, or that can be read differently from how you intended.

If you write in a foreign language, show it to a native speaker to make sure all the words you use are still in use.

10. Eureka!

As a good idea comes to your mind write it down so you don’t forget it!

Thanks to 22 ZigZag-published authors from PublishMeNow for these crowd-sourced tips.

Are you a teacher looking to become an educational writer? Sign up at PublishMeNow.co.uk


GCSE AQA Media Studies Unit 2 Assignments Updated

AQA’s GCSE Unit 2 Assignment Bank has been updated: click here to see the full list. Gaming is a new topic – giving recognition that will please ludologists!

What will you be teaching?


Best Resource for 2011?

There are quite a few publishers in the UK – see the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook 2012 for a full list.  Each has their own specialism, many of them in fiction.

ZigZag Education’s specialism is teaching resources for secondary schools.  We market directly to the teachers, selling individual resources mostly £30-£89 rather than individual £5 books to students.  If you give us a good teaching resource that experience tells us is viable, we will format it to a high standard, proofread and correct it, and market it to all 5000 UK secondary schools offering GCSEs, OCR Nationals, BTECs and A Levels.

Today we are sending out one of the contenders for best resource for 2011.  It is a series of 8 products including both analysis and activities for every single poem in the new GCSE AQA English Literature specification (if you happen to teach English, you can preview them at  http://zigzageducation.co.uk/synopses/3901-AQA-Anthology-Guide.asp?filename=3901-AQA-Anthology-Guide and http://zigzageducation.co.uk/synopses/3905-AQA-Anthology-Pack.asp?filename=3905-AQA-Anthology-Pack).

They illustrate what we can do best for teachers: we sought the advice of a lot of teachers about what they want in the resources together with peer and customer feedback from an old edition for the previous specification; 4 teachers collaborated in putting the resources together bringing varied styles and interest for classroom teaching, and we brought the whole project together in a timely fashion for the new specification.  In my opinion (and in the opinion of the teachers who have reviewed the resources) they are by far the best resources on the market – better and more comprehensive than those compiled by the board.

If you would like your high quality resources published, we would be interested in hearing from you.


JL Hagger, Development Manager


BTECs – we have a plan!

Will you be teaching the new BTECs?  (If not let us know which qualitifications you are interested in, and please forward this to your colleagues who are.)

We have an exciting plan for a range of new resources for the new BTEC specifications.  Development has started and new teachers are joining us every day, but we still need more teachers in every subject area.

If you would like to contribute, please let us know which specification you will be teaching, and whether you are interested in contributing to learning resources (content) or activity type resources, or have other ideas you would like to discuss.

We look forward to hearing from you.  Contact us directly at btec@publishmenow.co.uk or register at http://publishmenow.co.uk


JL Hagger,
ZigZag Education Partner & Development Manager


Foundation Learning – a new beginning?

Dear Teacher/Author,

The Foundation Learning pilots have been a success and the government is making funding available to support its implementation across England. It has been suggested that it will affect every state school.

Have you been involved in the pilots or is your school getting prepared for Foundation Learning before September? Resources to support pupils are particularly likely to be popular over the next two years – especially if they have the customisation element built into them. Resources supporting teachers and school management are also likely to be popular if backed up with experience of what has and hasn’t worked, and exemplars of good practice.

ZigZag Education would be interested in publishing any such resources – contact Sam Francis (sam@zigzageducation.co.uk) if you would like to contribute.

Best regards



New BTEC Specifications

Dear Teacher/Author,

Most of the new BTEC specifications are now available on the Edexcel website. We urgently need more new writers, more reviewers and more teachers who are developing material, or who already have material for the old BTECs that can be updated for the new specifications.

Please pass it on to colleagues who are teaching BTECs, or contact us yourself if you are interested.

Best regards,

JL @ ZigZag

p.s. new A Level and GCSE resources are also greatly in demand, and the new OCR National specifications are anticipated in March!


Calling teachers/authors!

Change can be tough and involve a lot of extra hard work and preparation. However, the success of ZigZag Education is partly built on supporting teachers with new resource for changing specifications, and some of the most successful authors write timely resources for new specifications.

What’s new now?

  • AS and A2 resources are still selling very well – and many more are needed ASAP.
  • This is the best year for all GCSE resources; in particular GCSE English, GCSE ICT and GCSE Maths resources for the new specifications that are ready before Easter will get the best marketing opportunity.
  • Most of the new popular BTEC specifications have just been published and we are actively seeking new authors.
  • We gather that some of the OCR Nationals specifications are about to change – the earlier new resources are ready the better.
  • Other changes are happening in UK education, including functional skills and a new Scottish curriculum.

The next two big deadlines for submitions of new resources for publishing are mid-March for marketing after Easter, and June for marketing next academic year. Remember that you receive 12.5% royalties of every sale – regardless of our developent costs, p&p costs, marketing costs etc.

We would like to hear from you and to see your ideas and work in progress!

JL @ ZigZag

Publish your own resources

Do you write your own worksheets, practice exam material, schemes of work, departmental handbook, etc? Email your ideas to jim@publishmenow.co.uk and register your interest in publishing at PublishMeNow.co.uk



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