What are some tips for teaching essay writing effectively?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
Just a brief addition: Tell your students that " to essay" means "to try," as in "to essay the mountain.". That reminds them that they are attempting to convince the reader, to stack up arguments for the thesis statement. Often taking this combative or debating attitude helps the student to "fight" for a convincing essay.
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Essay writing is often difficult for students because they don’t understand the structure or where to begin.  There are several things you can do to make it easier for them.  Here are some things I have found helpful.

Provide an Outline It is crucial that you outline whatever format you want students to use.  The standard five paragraph essay can be interpreted different ways.  Outline what needs to be in each sentence of each paragraph.  Here is an example for a middle school grade essay.

  1. Introduction
    1. Hook
    2. Thesis
    3. Preview
  2. Body #1
    1. Topic Sentence
    2. Evidence
    3. Explanation
    4. Commentary
    5. Conclusion

Modeling Write an essay with your students, using the outline.  Use an overhead projector or a document camera.  Ask for input from the class, and share your thought process. Together you write the essay.  Then type it up and give it to them as a model.   Students can also write an essay as a group.

Graphic Organizers You can create your own organizer by drawing boxes.  Follow the outline, and include a box for each item.  I find it helpful to have a main idea box on the left and detail boxes on the right.  When they start to write their draft, it is very useful because all they have to do is copy their ideas and turn them into sentences.

Word Lists and Stems I give my students my students sentence stems that they can complete for a thesis and topic sentences.  For example, if the topic is uniforms I might give them this thesis stem.

Our school should not have uniforms because ______________.

And this topic sentence stem:

First of all, uniforms are a bad idea because _______________.

I also give my students lists of transition words and persuasive words.

Don't forget to visit the enotes document exchange!

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial