What is it?
PEPSI is a writing strategy that asks students to prepare a pre-writing outline based on five points:
1. Point: Argument/Main Idea/Topic Sentence
2. Explanation: Explain your point—preview your evidence
3. Proof: Evidence; Supports your explanation—examples, stats, etc.
4. Signal Word: Indicates your paragraph is about to end
5. In Other Words: Restate your point—your conclusion
Essentially this writing strategy forces students to prepare a rudimentary structure for a writing assignment. This writing strategy is in outline format, which allows students to plan out what they are writing before they begin their rough or final drafts.
How Do I Do It?
In order to complete the PEPSI pre-writing strategy outline students should read an article or set of articles (home or in class) that will allow them to begin planning to complete a written response. The teacher should:
1. Explain the meaning behind PEPSI, taking time to explain terms like thesis and argument.
2. You might want to provide an example of how to do a PEPSI outline. Either through an class sample or through modeling the correct format.
3. Provide students articles, sources, and/or readings; OR have students conduct their own research.
4. Students should complete the PEPSI outline, scaffolded by teacher as necessary. It may be necessary to provide a template for students to complete the outline.
What’s The Spark?
This pre-writing strategy works well in so many ways. First, PEPSI prepares students to complete written assignments, ranging from paragraphs to essays. Second, it provides students the opportunity to become familiar with preparing an argumentative writing piece. Students enjoy using PEPSI to prepare for short and long writing assignments because it is simple enough to execute, while being comprehensive enough to help students prepare for their longer papers/essays.
Most teachers introduce PEPSI (and continue to identify it) using the PEPSI-COLA logo. This makes it memorable to students, and adds some dimension. While a typical outline format is covers the same basic principle, PEPSI dose so in an interactive and understandable way.
In the prepared example, I have outlined the arguments a student might make, after reading a Newsela article on Japanese-Americans just after World War II. This example would incorporate other sources (i.e. images from World War II), and would be more indicative of a larger writing assignment.
Article: “These Friends Stick Together Through Good Times and Bad” from Newsela (see citation below)
What Can I Do With It?
There are almost endless possibilities in terms of modifying PEPSI for your classroom. For example, teachers could utilize this model as an annotation guide, by asking students to identify the components of a PEPSI outline as they read. This could involve students reading an article and filling out the provided table, or by requiring students to highlight the reading. Such versatility, provides teachers with ample opportunities to differentiate PEPSI by readiness/ability, and grade level.
Furthermore, PEPSI does not require students to complete a long essay assignment. A middle school teacher might have students write a paragraph or short essay, while a high school teacher could have students prepare a longer research paper that stemmed from a PEPSI outline.
Students could use the provided table to complete this assignment, or they could create their own forms to complete the outline and prepare for the assignment.
How Can I Use It Across the Disciplines?
Other Ways I Can Use PEPSI