Not long ago, a student came into my office and asked for help getting started on a paper for my class. This is a fairly advanced student, and a really solid student.
I started by suggesting free-writing, and then asked what zie'd learned in hir first year writing class, the one I struggle mightily to teach. Nope, zie hadn't done free-writing in the first year writing class, but zie was familiar with free-writing from other classes. So I suggested free-writing about each of the sources or passages zie thought would be important, labelling each, and then using them to create a bubble map. Nope, zie hadn't done bubble maps in hir first year writing class, but was familiar with them.
I didn't ask who'd taught this person's first year writing class, but zie said that a number of other instructors here have asked basically the same question of the student and been surprised to learn zie hadn't learned these writing strategies.
My question is, what the heck do you do with a writing class if you aren't teaching them to use brainstorming and other writing strategies?
I don't think I have all the strategies, nor do I use them all well, but I do tend to have my writing students do freewriting in class (because it's the only way I believe I can convince them to actually do it until they learn that it actually works for them, and I know it doesn't work equally well for everyone). We also do listing, peer responding (to lists and other pre-writing as well as to drafts), bubble mapping, thesis brainstorming, and topic sentence writing.
I know one of my colleagues spends time diagramming sentences, and would probably be shocked to learn that I not only don't diagram sentences, but that I've never even learned to diagram sentences. (Is that shocking?)
What do you do in writing classes to help your students write?
What are you shocked to learn that I don't do?
And finally, when you're writing, do you use pre-writing strategies at all?