Yesterday I was asked to expand “patches of thought” Essentially, patches of thought are little pieces of paper (could be index cards) on which students write mini-stories, lists, or other items that support a particular paragraph in an essay. It’s essentially the evidence that one feels will support a topic sentence within their essay (and will subsequently prove their thesis). Once a student records some writing on a “patches of thought” paper, s/he puts it into the proper envelope and then moves on to write another patch of thought for the same paragraph or the next one.
Once students are ready to draft their essay, they go through their envelopes and select patches of thought to use in their paragraphs. Then, they need to put these patches into proper order so that the paragraph flows from a topic sentence to detail sentences (i.e., the patches of thought they collected — perhaps lined up in order of importance) to a concluding sentence.
Hope this makes the concept of “patches of thought” a bit clearer. (Do click on the hyperlinks above for more information.)