Essay writing toolkit_master_version

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  • 1.Writing for grade 10English

2. Back to ContentsEssay PlannerAn excellent essay planner is availableat: resource helps students map outtheir essay in advance. It breaks theprocess down into simple steps andprovides a clear, visual overview.Essay maps can be printed, saved orshared once complete.Blank essay maps can be printed off ifstudents do not have computer access(this feature is available from the firstpage of the link). 3. Back to ContentsAlternative PlansA range of ways to plan essays:-Write a summary of your main argument. This isparticularly helpful for clarifying and refining ideas.-Write the first sentence of each paragraph. These shouldanswer the question and form a coherent whole.- Write the conclusion first. Then, work out what you willneed to include in order to reach it.- Bullet point your introduction, main body, andconclusion.- Create a spider diagram with the essay question at thecentre.-Draw out sub-questions from the title. Order the series ofquestions you create and answer each in turn.-Create a table. Put your key points across the top. Evidencefor and evidence against goes along the side (for example - 4. Back to ContentsCommand WordsCommand words are those words whichindicate to a student what they ought to doin their essay.Here are some examples:CompareContrastDescribeDefineDiscussEvaluateExplainIllustrateJustifyOutlineStudents who know the functions of suchwords are in a better position to answer thequestion.Explanations of command words can be found at: 5. Back to ContentsPurposeAn essay without a clear purpose is liable to becomeunfocussed. Coherence may be lost and, if it is, logicwill most likely disappear as well.Here are some activities to help ensure studentsretain a clear purpose:i) Provide students with a range of essay titles.Ask them to come up with a single sentencefor each which encapsulates what their answerwould be about.ii) Set an essay for the class. Insist that the firstsentence of each paragraph must answer thequestion. Once the essays are complete, askstudents to read their first sentences to oneanother.iii) Provide students with an essay title. Ask themto come up with a single sentenceencapsulating what their answer would beabout. Collect 3-4 different examples. Askstudents to create an appropriate plan foreach one. They should stick to the differentpurpose each time. 6. Back to ContentsStructureStudents think differently. Certain questions invite certain typesof response. Here are a range of essay structures for studentsto use:1) Introduction -> Arguments For -> Arguments Against -> Conclusion2) Introduction -> 1st Argument For -> 1st Argument Against -> 2nd Argument For -> 2ndArgument Against -> Conclusion3) Introduction -> Main Body -> Conclusion4) Introduction -> First Key Theme -> Second Key Theme -> Third Key Theme -> Conclusion5) Introduction -> First Point -> Critique of First Point -> Second Point -> Critique of SecondPoint -> Conclusion 7. Back to ContentsIntroductionsIntroductions should be clear and precise. They shouldindicate what the essay is about. They should answer thequestion. At times it may be appropriate to analysecertain words in the question and reformulate accordingly.An introduction should make it clear to the reader what toexpect. It should be brief, saying only what is necessaryand no more.Activitiesi) Give students a range of essay titles. Ask them towrite introductions for each one.ii) Once students have written an introduction, askthem to rewrite it using fewer words but with thesame meaning.iii) Put students in groups. Everyone has a piece ofpaper. Give an essay title. Everyone writes the firstsentence of the introduction. Papers are then passedon and everyone writes the second line. Continueuntil the introductions are complete. Review anddiscuss. 8. Back to ContentsConclusionsConclusions should summarise what has gone before. They shouldnever contain new material. That is, anything which has not beendealt with in the preceding text.A good conclusion draws together the threads which the writer haswoven to form a tight, coherent whole.An average essay can be raised by a strong conclusion; a good essaycan be felled by a bad one.Activitiesi) Give students a range of essay titles and ask them to writeconclusions for each. When done, students work in pairs tocompare and contrast.ii) Give students an essay title. Ask them to write theirconclusion and then go back and write the essay.iii) Students are given an essay title. They must write 3-5different conclusions which could fit with the title. Next, theycompare these with a partner before planning out the detailwhich would precede a couple of the conclusions. 9. Back to ContentsRead AloudReading ones own work out loud is a useful way to test thequality of an essay. Speaking what has been written meansgiving voice to anything which does not make sense, is notclear, or comes across as verbose. There is no where to hidewhen reading aloud.Activitiesi) Students complete an essay and get into groups. Theytake it in turns to read aloud to the rest of the group.Other members offer corrections and alternatives.ii) Students complete an essay. A few students take it inturns to read their essay aloud to the whole class. Theaudience makes notes and gives feedback (alternative:the audience is divided up and they make notes ondifferent areas, for example structure, argument andso on).iii) Students complete an essay for homework. Oncefinished, they read it aloud to themselves (perhapsstanding in front of the mirror). Any issues whichappear in the reading should be corrected. 10. Back to ContentsSpeed DebatingSpeed Debating is a good activity to do in advance of essaywriting. It works as follows:i) Introduce a proposition. For example, Conservatism isnot relevant to modern politics.ii) Divide the class in half.iii) Indicate which half of the class will be arguing FOR andwhich half will be arguing AGAINST.iv) Give students time to construct their arguments.v) Ask the students who are FOR to stand up. They mustfind a student who is AGAINST and sit opposite Students take it in turns to speak (2-3 minutes foreach) before 1-2 minutes of free-for-all.vii) Students who are FOR stand up and find a newpartner. Repeat step VI and so on. 11. Back to ContentsFormal DebatingFormal Debating is a good activity to do in advance of essay writing. It works asfollows:i) Introduce a motion. For example, This house believes that humanbehaviour is biologically determined.ii) Divide the class in half. One half will be FOR. One half will be Against.iii) Each group must nominate three speakers. These will be the Proposer,the Seconder, and the Summariser.iv) The groups prepare their arguments in detail.v) The Proposers, Seconders, and Summarisers are called forward. They sitat the front, with a judge in The Proposer FOR the motion speaks first for an allotted period of time.The Proposer AGAINST then speaks and so on.vii) The rest of the class act as an audience. They must come up withquestions to ask the speakers at the end of the debate.viii) Finally, a judgement is given as to who has won the debate.Resources available at - 12. Back to ContentsSilent DebateSilent Debate is a good activity to do in advance of essaywriting. It works as follows:i) The teacher writes questions and/or statements in thecentre of 3-5 large pieces of paper. These are then spreadaround the room.ii) Students enter and are told they are not allowed to talk.They must take out a pen and move around theroom, reading the questions/statements.iii) Students must write their responses to eachquestion/statement on the paper.iv) When they have answered each one, they continue tomove around, except they now comment on otherpeoples comments.v) Once sufficient time has elapsed, end the activity and usethe sheets as a basis for discussion. From this, it will beeasy for students to dive straight into their essays. 13. Back to ContentsFirst SentencesWhat comes first sets the tone. It must.In an essay, the first sentence of a paragraph ought to indicatewhat that paragraph is about. If it does not, there is a high risk oflogical confusion developing. This makes the writing less clear.The purpose of an essay is to communicate understanding,argument and judgement. Therefore, one should always strive forclarity and sense. From the first sentence, to the last.Activitiesi) Give students an essay title. Ask them to imagine how theywould go about answering it. Then, they must write the firstsentence of each paragraph. When finished, develop intopaired or group discussion.ii) Students are in groups. Give them an essay title. Ask themto write the series of first sentences which would suffice forthe essay. When finished, each group reads their sentencesout and takes feedback.iii) Students are given an essay title. They come up with twoalternate plans then write the first sentences for each.Students then self-assess, deciding which would be thebetter essay and why. 14. Back to ContentsPeer-assessmentPeer assessment affords students two opportunities. First, ofreading someone elses work. Second, of analysing and applyingthe mark scheme they themselves will be assessed against.Activitiesi) Students are given a title and write their essays. Oncompletion, they pair up and swap work. The