Their college life is impossible to imagine without paper work, and that is why it is very important for them to know how to write an essay, an assignment, a dissertation, a composition, etc. So, your task as a teacher is to tell them how to write an essay write and be able to express their thoughts clearly. How to do that? What aspects to pay attention to in order your students could become the best essay writers?
Here you are welcome to find some tips concerning the most important essay aspects to tell your students about. Step by step, you will make it much easier for them to understand the principles of essay writing and their importance for their future practice.
It is obvious, that the very first thing your students should think of before writing an essay is its topic. Remember, that an essay is not only about writing skills, but it demonstrates the ability of your students to research as well. So, you task is to teach them to research. That is why try to reject the chosen topics if they are too easy for a student, and you see that it will not take much time to write such a essay.
An essay is not an essay without any research. Explain your students, that it is always better for them to choose a topic they understand well and have an opportunity to make a research on. Good research capability is important for every student to get, that is why do not forget practicing different research tactics with them: tell in details about the methods they can use to find all the information needed, how to use this info wisely, and what are the best ways to distinguish the important facts.
Informative and well-styles essays are impossible to write without a purpose. An essay can not be just a piece of writing about general things everybody knows and understands perfectly. So, teach your students that they should not be in a hurry to write their essays at once they've chosen the topic. Make them decide upon the purpose of an essay.
When a student perfectly understands what he writes an essay for, it will be much easier for him to draw the outline and start writing.
The process of teaching is impossible without examples. For your students to understand what a good piece of writing actually is, just give them some examples of excellent essays. It may be an essay of your former student for example. When they see a sample, your students will have an idea what a good essay should look like.
Use samples to tell students about each element their essays should include. They will perfectly understand what the good introduction is, what an informative body of an essay should look like, and how to make an appropriate conclusion. Moreover, your students will also have an opportunity to see how sentences are built, and what grammar constructions are used in an essay.
The last thing to do before starting to write an essay is to make its outline. Choose some topic and make a list of points your students would need to mention if they wrote an essay on it. Such a technique will give them a better understanding of what and essay is, and how it should be written.
Make sure that all students perfectly understand the fact they should follow an essay outline, because it will be much easier for them to write this piece of paper. Make it clear to them that every point of the outline should start from a new paragraph. Moreover, the smaller these paragraphs are – the more attractive an essay will look for its readers. It is not very comfortable to read very long paragraphs, as it will be more difficult to get the point in such a way. Eventually, it will be easier for students themselves to compose shorter paragraphs of an essay.
Finally, it is time to start writing an essay. And here comes its most important part that is called an introduction. As a rule, students find it very difficult to write this part of their essay, as they do not know how to start a piece of writing in order to attract readers' attention and tell them shortly about what this essay is about.
It is clear, that an essay will not be good without a proper and attractive beginning, so, your task is to explain this moment to your students. Tell them, that no one will continue reading their essays if they do not make it eye-catchy and clear for a potential reader. Moreover, an essay introduction should be intriguing a bit.
Depending on the topic of an essay, students can start it with a story from their personal experience. This is a good way to grab an attention. Discuss this option with your students, listen to their suggestions. Discussions will help them learn the material better.
We have already mentioned the outline of an essay, that will help your students write the body of their essay right. Now it is high time for a conclusion, which is not less important than an introduction by the way. It is a real art to finish your writing in a way your reader would feel good and satisfied with everything he has read.
Tell your students how to conclude their essays appropriately. Explain, that it is not good to abrupt a piece of writing. And do not forget to mention, that a conclusion of their essay should contain a summary if all points they discussed in the body!
To summarize everything mentioned above, we can say that the importance of essay writing skills should not be underestimated. Such skills will help students express their thoughts clearly and write really good and even professional essays and other kinds of paper work during their further study at colleges or universities. Be sure, they will thank you for teaching such a necessary information to them.
This is a guest article by Alex Strike. Alex is a copywriter of Essay-All-Stars.com website and a passionate reader of Stephen King's books.
A MiddleWeb Blog
By Shara Peters and Jody Passanisi
The main purpose of school is to prepare children to be successful after school. Everyone talks about our “digital age” and the shifts in education it necessitates. One shift is abundantly clear: written communication has never been as important as it is now.
When we were in school, people communicated differently – people actually talked on the phone. Now, thanks to texting, email, blogs, etc., more and more communication happens through writing.
The nature of writing is changing as well. People are rapidly scrolling through newsfeeds and scanning for interesting articles. If you want your ideas to be read, you have to get to the point quickly. And if you make grammar errors, or state something that is factually incorrect, you will be judged instantly – in a very public way.
In our own teaching, we’ve always maintained that writing is an essential skill for middle schoolers to develop. Whether your classroom is project based, inquiry based, student-centered, teacher-driven or lecture-style, your students are going to need to learn to express their understandings, evaluation, and synthesis through writing.
And not just any writing, but writing that is clear, cogent, concise, backed-up with research and facts, and well argued.
Scaffolding the Writing Experience
Middle grades students are asked to do more with their writing than we were as students. Today, summaries and reporting on facts are seldom enough; standards speak to evaluation, analysis, and synthesis. Advances in technology are helping to move writing in these directions, giving students the capacity to quickly revise their work from first to final draft, without tediously copying multiple versions.
In addition, the availability of information plays an important part in the raising of expectations. It is no longer difficult to gather facts and data, so the difficulty must be reflected elsewhere – in what is done with the information. Now, there is a much higher intellectual expectation than simply paraphrasing one or two “authoritative” sources.
With this advance in expectations comes an increased need for scaffolding the learning process. Some students find these demands for higher orders of thinking and writing very challenging, to say the least. They are adolescents, still moving from concrete to formal operations in the Piagetian sense, and will often need our support with their writing.
The Five-Paragraph Essay
Throughout our teaching careers, integrating writing skills – and having students demonstrate understanding of content through writing – has been a priority. But we haven’t always done it the same way.
When we first started teaching social studies in middle school, we used a five-paragraph essay. We provided the students an outline so that they could learn the important components of the format (intro, thesis, supporting paragraphs, transitions, conclusion – for example, this essay organizer on the Constitution). The essays were evaluative, and the students were required to use evidence from specific readings and notes that had been introduced and worked through during class.
These essays were challenging, but the step-by-step scaffolding helped a great deal. The parts that were the most difficult are not really surprising: the thesis, the analysis, the conclusion – the components that required the most critical and evaluative thinking.
As time passed, we began to ask our students to be more accountable for the sources they used, as Jody wrote about last year in this MiddleWeb piece on using citations in history. Even so, at the end of each unit, students continued to use our five-part outline to showcase their writing, their ability to synthesize, and their knowledge of the historical content that we had just explored.
While this organizing tool helped some students structure their ideas into some impressive essays, we came to see that it was masking some students’ writing deficiencies. Though the final product (after multiple revisions) often appeared to include high level thinking and deep comprehension, the amount of teacher guidance and outside help that some students received made us doubt the integrity of the assignment, and whether it was a true assessment of student comprehension and ability.
We began to wonder if timed writing events, where student writing skills would be “unmasked,” might add an important formative assessment element.
The Essay Under Time Constraints
Timed writing is by no means new, but it is seeing a resurgence in the high schools where our students often matriculate. In history class these timed writings are based on a few primary or secondary source documents (or a mixed grouping of both) and students are asked to make an evaluative statement about a historical period or concept using the evidence given.
DBQs, or Document Based Questions, have also been around awhile (in AP courses, for example). But again, they are increasingly becoming a primary way to procure evidence of student understanding – evidence of students’ ability to read, comprehend, synthesize, organize, and evaluate evidence “like historians” through their own writing.
This resurgence can be seen as part of the general increase in activities and experiences that ask the students to think more critically and analytically, a phenomenon we associate with the rise of the Common Core Standards. We have been incorporating more and more of these types of writing experiences into our teaching to prepare our students for what will be expected of them when they go to high school.
Timed writings don’t always have to be DBQ based. At the end of a project-based learning unit, Jody used a timed writing to see if students were able to synthesize the varied information they had learned about the causes of the Civil War into an evaluative and succinct four paragraph essay that was written over a class period.
Students were asked to answer the question “What Caused the Civil War?” with a clear thesis, evidence, and citations, culminating in a conclusion that got to a “so what?” point. While this was a challenge, most students were able to demonstrate understanding with clear writing. The feeling of self-efficacy gained in timed writings in middle school will carry over to high school when students are tasked with a similar writing assignment – to write quickly and clearly and convey something important to the reader.
These timed writings can better show the teacher the students’ process skills at various stages, without having to rely completely on a finished (and often heavily scaffolded) product. That said, the scaffolding provided by the essay outline should also be part of instruction. You don’t just hand challenging assignments to the kids and say “go for it!”
There will be some students who have special needs or Individualized Education Plans who may need a great deal of additional support and possibly much more time than other students in the class, but the exposure to timed writing, if it is done with a learning rather than “testing” vibe, can help each and every student to reach a personal goal, even if that goal is modified.
Teachers can help all students to lower their affective filter in writing simply by exposing them to the timed writing process. We believe this exposure will help them a great deal in their academic careers.
Despite the fact that timed writings seem to be in vogue at the moment and the DBQ method helps students to begin to think like historians, we don’t think that the five paragraph essay is ready for the dumpster. The writing skills that the students gain, not to mention the thinking skills, are important. The vehicle in which they get to the writing is secondary to the experience of writing about historical concepts – and writing a lot.
What’s next for middle grades writing in social studies? The push for writing analytically is an important one, and one that will only help students be able to navigate the past in a more critical way. Gaining advanced writing skills will also impact their present, empowering them to articulate their views in more meaningful language.
How do you use writing in the social studies classroom?