Thursday, February 27, 2014

Essay Strategy


They are something we learn to write.

We hope to learn to write essays with pizazz and power, but for write now, we're learning to write essays for a test. It's one of the standards -- to write for this purpose.

How do we write for a test? A test to write an essay in a day?

We learn a strategy for prewriting. This is a middle school strategy; essays we write for more than a test are more nuanced and personalized. For now, we learn to write for a test. We create the graphic organizer in the image at left.


We start by thinking of an answer to the prompt. One prompt might be: What class from K-7th grade did you find most enjoyable? An answer one student considered is: My favorite class was fourth grade.

Just Three Ideas

With that answer, we consider three topic sentence ideas (TS) and write them on our own created organizer (see image). We then elaborate on each idea (six sentences) and write concluding sentences (CS) for each. Think about this: an essay is easy -- just a topic/thesis and three ideas on which to elaborate! We can do this!

Thesis Statement

With our paragraphs outlined, we now write our thesis statement, which is the "topic sentence" for the essay. It starts with our answer to our prompt and includes the three ideas we wrote about in our paragraphs prewrites. For the previous example, the student wrote: My favorite class is fourth grade because we camped at lost lake, sold tickets for the spaghetti feed, and had a tea party. The thesis statement is the last sentence for our introduction.


What introduction? An introduction grabs your readers' attention, provides background information, and states your topics in the thesis statement, which also lays out the organization of your essay. We just wrote the thesis statement, now we grab our reader with a hook. An anecdote or a question provide two excellent beginnings. Our organizer starts with the grabber beginning and the background information -- something to explain the topic that the reader needs to know.


Splash! We dove off the dock and into the icy May water of Lost Lake. May? Swimming? Yes, at our school our fourth grade camps at Lost Lake for a week! My favorite class is fourth grade because we camped at lost lake, sold tickets for the spaghetti feed, and had a tea party.

So our organizer now has allowed us to write our introduction and the outline for our three body paragraphs. Finally, we add the conclusion.


Conclusion? Yes, an essay needs an end that provides the reader with a summary tied back to the introduction and with a question or call to action (for persuasion) that leaves the reader thinking.
At the bottom of the organizer, we prewrite our conclusion with a transition word, a reference to the introduction, a restatement of the thesis statement, and the question.


Therefore, fourth grade was an awesome year. Imagine that cold water surrounding you, or sipping that warm tea for United Nations Day. Fourth grade was the best year because of lost lake, the spaghetti feed, and the tea party. Which would you like?


The process is: answer the prompt, write the three ideas to explain the answer as topic sentences, elaborate those as paragraphs, write the thesis statement. Finally, write the introduction and conclusion last -- when you have your ideas outlined so you can really grab the reader with a relevant hook and summarize in the conclusion.


With our prewriting done, the hard work is also done -- thinking of the ideas!  Now we are ready to write the draft from our prewriting.

Next Steps

After writing the draft, we apply our revision strategies. As we practice and practice, we learn to prewrite, draft, and revise in a continuous, yet recursive cycle. For now, we're beginners learning the strategies.


Paragraph Structure Review
Elaboration Strategies
Thesis Statements
Introductions/ Conclusions
Revision Strategies:  Randy Koch Strategy  Revision Wiki

We are writers; we are authors. We are learning both test writing and real writing.


Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.
  1. Introduce a topic clearly, previewing what
    is to follow; organize ideas, concepts, and information, using strategies such as definition, classification, comparison/contrast, and cause/ e
    ffect; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., charts, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
  2. Develop the topic with relevant facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples.
  3. Use appropriate transitions to create cohesion and clarify the relationships among ideas and concepts.
  4. Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.
  5. Establish and maintain a formal style.
  6. Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the information or explanation presented.

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Please remember this is a family and school related site. Please post and comment appropriately. Please contact Ms Edwards if you have any questions or to report any inappropriate activity. Thank you. sheri at nsdeagles dot org