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Teacher Tips and Answers

Prewriting for Short Reports

To write a good report, you need to choose a topic that interests you. Then you will research facts about the topic. These prewriting activities will prepare you to write a first draft.

Prewriting to Choose a Topic

Your first prewriting step is to choose a topic for your report. Make sure the topic is something you want to learn more about.

Explore writing topics.

Your short report in this unit will focus on a holiday. Explore the list of holidays below. Choose three holidays that you would most want to write about. If your favorite holiday is not included in the list, write it on one of the blank spaces.

Presidents' Day


Martin Luther King Day

Columbus Day

Memorial Day

Independence Day

Veterans Day

New Year's Day

Casimir Pulaski Day


Teaching Tip

The guidelines in this unit focus on writing a report about a holiday, but students can follow the same guidelines to write a report about any topic—whether a person, place, thing, or event. Feel free to adapt the unit to the topics of your curriculum.

Choose your topic.

Review the three holidays you selected in the activity above. Choose the holiday you most want to explore in your short report. In a sentence or two, explain why you chose this holiday. Make a copy of this Google doc or download a Word template.

  1. What is my writing topic?

    Casimir Pulaski Day

  2. Why did I choose this topic?

    I like this holiday because it celebrates my Polish heritage, and it is a mystery to a lot of my classmates.

Prewriting to Gather Details

Asking the 5 W's questions—who? what? when? where? why?—can help you gather the basic information about any topic. Answering the 5 W's about your holiday will ensure your report presents key information for your readers.

Answer the 5 W's questions.

Search for answers to the 5 W’s questions about your writing topic. You can find answers in books, Web sites, online videos, and encyclopedias. Make a copy of this Google doc or download a Word template.

Holiday Name:

Casimir Pulaski Day

  1. Who celebrates the holiday?
  2. People in Illinois and Wisconsin, especially Polish Americans

  3. What does the holiday celebrate or remember?
  4. The holiday celebrates the birthday of a Revolutionary War hero named Casimir Pulaski. It also celebrates Polish culture.

  5. When is the holiday?
  6. The first Monday in March in Illinois (March 4 in Wisconsin)

  7. Where is the holiday celebrated?
  8. Illinois and Wisconsin

  9. Why or how did it become a holiday?
  10. Pulaski was the head of the cavalry for George Washington. Illinois created a holiday in his name in 1985.

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