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I would devote at least one more class period to having students consider their topic for the essay, drafting a thesis statement, and planning the main points of their essay in a graphic organizer.I would also begin writing my own essay on a different topic.
Ideally, this writing would come from real publications and not be fabricated by me in order to embody the form I’m looking for.
(Although most experts on writing instruction employ some kind of mentor text study, the person I learned it from best was Katie Wood Ray in her book Study Driven).
Next, we’d have a Philosophical Chairs debate (learn about this in my discussion strategies post), which is very similar to “This or That,” except students use textual evidence to back up their points, and there are a few more rules.
Here they are still doing verbal argument, but the experience should make them more likely to appreciate the value of evidence when trying to persuade.
So let’s begin with argumentative writing, or persuasive writing, as many of us used to call it.
This overview will be most helpful to those who are new to teaching writing, or teachers who have not gotten good results with the approach you have taken up to now.Later, as students work on their own pieces, I would likely return to these pieces to show students how to execute certain writing moves.Although many students might need more practice in writing an effective argument, many of them are excellent at arguing in person.It’s not exactly the 5-paragraph essay, but it definitely builds on that model.I strongly believe students should be shown how to move past those kinds of structures into a style of writing that’s more natural and fitting to the task and audience, but I also think they should start with something that’s pretty clearly organized. One of the most effective ways to improve student writing is to show them mentor texts, examples of excellent writing within the genre students are about to attempt themselves.Then again, I’m always interested in how other people do the things I can already do; maybe you’re curious like that, too.Before I start, I should note that what I describe in this post is a fairly formulaic style of essay writing.Unlike the mentor texts we read on day 1, this sample would be something teacher-created (or an excellent student model from a previous year) to fit the parameters of the assignment.Before letting students loose to start working on their essays, I make sure they have a solid plan for writing. Yes, I was certified to teach the full spectrum of English language arts—literature, grammar and usage, speech, drama, and so on—but my absolute favorite, the thing I loved doing the most, was teaching students how to write.Most of the material on this site is directed at all teachers.