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.
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