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Making a start.

HEAT Stage 1: Understanding the assignment and getting started.

1.4 Making a start

Use the format below to think around your topic, what could you include that is relevant to your title?

Making a start

Planning and breaking down your assignment using your learning style


Do you prefer lists or shuffling ideas around?

Use sticky notes or a large piece of paper that you cut into pieces.

Tip: Writing for 10 minutes without stopping is also a useful start.


The 'Sticky Notes Shuffle' or 'Chop and Sort' Approach

You will need:

  • Develop confidence to make a start with your writing
  • A large piece of paper (or board, or even your desk) and
  • A supply of sticky notes ( in different colours) or
  • Paper, scissors and Blu-Tack

Brainstorm ideas about the assignment title/question, move them around – start to build a basic shape for your assignment and identify what else you need to do.

Use colour here to link similar parts and go on to use these colours in your research and reading.

Are you the creative type? Do you like having lots of handouts and diagrams?

Try the thought mapping or spider gram approach.

Tip: This works particularly well when using colours and symbols


The Thought-Mapping (or spider gram) Approach.



Just add more 'clouds' as you get more ideas.

Is your approach to break down the title or question into smaller chinks?

The 'family tree' approach is useful.

Tip: this helps you to see how different parts merge into the whole package.


The 'Family Tree' Approach

Start with the basic title or question and break it down into smaller and smaller chunks:

Thoughts about the assignment title

Extend the 'family tree' or 'flow chart' as you get more ideas.

Is your approach quite tightly structured and organised?

A table may help you to focus on the task.

Tip: this grid provides guidance and a clear outline of what you already know and what you need to find out.


The 'Tidy Table 'Approach


Topic What does this mean? What do I already know? What do I need to find out? How am I going to find it?


Creative Commons