In the Saturday intensive we drew on the article on bullying as a model to talk about how to structure a professional journal article.
We work-shopped each student's area of interest with two targets in mind: to identify possible stories, anecdotes that might usefully capture the key idea and provide the reader with a useful opening in the paper as was case in the bullying paper; to get to what we might call the grandmother statement for each paper.
When you prepare to write a paper, you collect a lot of stuff: papers, quotes, notes, bits from your notebooks, maybe a doodle or two on the back of a napkin, stuff. All of these things need to be turned into that elegant, stylish, engaging piece of writing that will be the draft for your professional journal paper.
If you don't have an organising idea, a single, organising idea then the task becomes more or less impossible.
But, when you do have a simple, clearly expressed statement of the key idea, your task then becomes one of stripping away all but the stuff which helps you structure your paper around the key idea. It's the reverse of the first process in which you went looking for stuff, putting references into Endnote, writing notes in your notebooks and trying to make connections between the various bits and pieces you have scattered across your desk and your computer.
Almost invariably, the focus of most was the articulation of two things, e.g1. boys education and the role of mentoring, primary mathematics learning and iPads, teacher professional development and social media. If you have more than two, chances are the problem, focus is not well defined.