A strategy that I find helpful is the ability to make a spider web chart after your paper is possibly complete. This strategy helps you to make sure you remained on prompt and focused during the session; it is kind of like reverse outlining which I just learned about this past week.
What you would do is put your prompt in the center. Next find you topic sentences and put them in circles branching off the original circle. Make sure all of the topic sentences relate to the center circle topic; if they do not work on how you can make them relate.
After you do that we are going to move paragraph my paragraph. Dissect each sentence in a paragraph and see if it goes back to the topic sentence in the circle if so pick the key word in that sentence and attach it off of the topic sentence circle to make the web larger. If a sentence does not belong see if it can be relocated or rewritten, if not then its time to remove. Look at your complete web does everything now lead back to the center.
Here is an example:
Tutor: So what are we working on today?
Student: My article review essay, I’m not sure that it’s on topic.
Tutor: Have you ever used a spider web chart to brainstorm ideas?
Student: Yea, we used them a lot in 10th grade English.
Tutor: Okay, well we are going to use that tool, but in the reverse way. Do you have your prompt?
Student: Yea, here. (pulls it out)
Tutor: Okay now that goes in the center of the blank piece of paper with a circle around it.
Student: (places prompt in center) Now what?
Tutor: Okay each of these 3 paragraphs should have a topic sentence and supporting evidence. Let’s start with paragraph one. What is the topic sentence?
Student: (points to topic sentence)
Tutor: That’s the next piece of your web, put that in a circle and attach it to the first circle. Now can we talk sentence by sentence why they pertain.
Next they dissect the sentences and add them to the web. And basically it looks like a web chart we did at grade school . It is helpful to look back at the pieces slowly to understand how you are doing with staying on prompt.
Here is an example:
Hope this is helpful!