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  • Steps for Students:
  • I
  • Explore
  • Find
  • III
  • Look at
  • IV
  • Write their essay
  • V
  • Apply these techniques

  • Additional Details:

    Ask which brainstorming techinique works best for them.
    outlining,
    clustering,
    freewriting,
    invisible writing,
    pairing opposites,
    or question/answer.

    Hint: Actually, if they use the question/answer technique as they write, their ideas that pop up will easily turn into complex points of view. In other words, when they are stuck they should ask a 'Who', 'What', 'Where', 'Why', 'When', and/or 'How' question(s) about their idea. This works every single time! It is a very simple yet exceptionally effective brainstorming technique.
     

Secondly, before they actually begin their essay they should be familiar with the transitional words that match their voice. Stated another way, when they speak I'm sure there are certain terms they use more often than others. Well, it's the same thing when they write. In writing, they should use their unique, particular voice. Therefore, certain transitional words may better suit their voice, than others. If they are aware and know these words ahead of time, they will have an edge over other somewhat oblivious students who may not know how to express themselves properly using transitions. Here are some examples of transitional words.

Thirdly, I'm sure writing an essay with an utterly awesome conclusion might seem like a stretch to them. But actually, there are some easy ways to reach that pinnacle without it hurting too much. Some guidelines to follow include organization, stategy, and critiquing.

Organizationally, they should have a pattern that they follow throughout the entire essay. In other words, if they state a fact or idea, then support it with a couple examples from personal experience or whatever, then end up with a developed idea from those steps, be sure to use that same structure for each paragraph (except in the conclusion which will be addressed later). Another way they can structure their paragraph is to start with their developed idea and then use facts or ideas to support and strengthen their position. Either way, use the same pattern of organization in every paragraph for consistency.

Next, strategically they should have a specific plan or approach, even before they start to write. For instance, the writing section of the SAT asks for a persuasive essay. So, they should be familiar with the steps of persuasive writing. First, introduce the issue and any background information. Second, take a stand by providing a clear, strong thesis statement. Third, support that position with evidence that shows the flaws in opposing viewpoints. Fourth and lastly, when you draw a conclusion restate your position along with your newly developed ideas. Then, through reasoning present them in a broader context by comparing and contrasting them, or using an analogy to apply them in the context of other ideas or populations.

Finally, be sure to critique their work. This will set them apart from the others who tend to be a bit too overanxious or proud to correct their own work. This can be kind of fun because when they proofread and edit their writing, they are actually role playing! At this point, they are no longer a writer but a reader (so they should use their imagination and be anyone at all). Then as a reader they will know what needs to be fixed. Once it's fixed to mean exactly what they wanted it to say . . . wahlah they're done!

One last tip for those students who may be verbal, rather than visual learners. They should either read their essay aloud or into a tape recorder. Then play it back. Whatever needs to be corrected will jump right out at them.

Feedback to students: Use email to provide feedback to students. You might consider editing their essays using MSWord by inserting comments where corrections need to be made. This gives them valuable personalized feedback on how to improve their essay writing.

 

These pages were made through TeacherTECH, the teacher professional development component of GirlTECH, which is sponsored by the Center for Excellence and Equity in Education (CEEE) with support from the National Science Foundation through EPIC.

Copyright © June 2005 by Diane Jerome.