Teaching effective essay writing

The essay form is still the best way for students to think hard on the page, but it should involve inquiry-based learning, evidence-rich analysis and process work -- not formulae, write Gwen Hyman and Martha Schulman. A little while back, we wrote an essay arguing against killing off the undergraduate essay.

The piece generated a lot of reaction, much of it focused on the question of what an essay should be. Some writers argued for the five-paragraph essay or other formulaic models, on the grounds that clear expectations at least give underprepared students something to work with.

On Teaching: How to Make Students Good Writers - The Atlantic

Although all of those arguments have merit, our own thinking on the subject is both more old-fashioned and more radical. We think the essay form is still the best way for students to think hard on the page -- but we are not fans of formulae. In other words, we believe in asking students to write the kinds of essays we write ourselves -- and in giving students the tools to do that.

In fact, to do it on a large scale may require wholesale rethinking of academic structures.

When we talk about essays with students, we begin with the basic question of what an essay is. We describe it as a story: a narrative that looks closely at a particular moment or occurrence or phenomenon in a text, asks questions, comes up with analysis rooted in the text under consideration and takes up the implications of that analysis.

She may even go a step farther, thinking about ways in which the new idea tells her something about the world into and out of which the text is created. In any case, the essay ends somewhere different from where it began. The reader has learned something, precisely because the author has. Something interesting has, ideally, taken place.

In sum, the student essay falls into the same genre as the essays we ourselves write. No student no writer, really can create such an essay in one draft. We ask students to begin by exploring something specific in the text, rather than a big idea or generalization.

Effective Essay Writing, Part 2 - All About the Thesis

To take on this challenging task, students need processes and they need tools. For example, they need close reading methods, so they can make discoveries in the text and talk back to it. Close reading is what lets students see how to find evidence from the text rather than from common sense or general knowledge. The student may move from the text to questions to freewriting or brainstorming to drafting, then go back to the text and so on, deepening her analysis by asking questions.


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She may use a range of visually rich, active-learning methods to generate ideas, get her thoughts in order and fill gaps. Giving students the reading, writing and thinking skills required for a process like this is, to put it mildly, challenging -- for students and instructors alike. As instructors, we also have to give up some control over our assignments.

There is risk in the classroom, too: query-based learning requires us to focus on helping students learn to ask questions. This approach not only takes time away from subject matter but can also derail the most carefully planned lectures and guided discussions. And outside the classroom, there is the challenge of grading.

Explain to students what brainstorming is and how it can help them to write a better essay. Provide them with a list of different types of brainstorming activities and set aside class time to try some of them out. Some brainstorming activities you could encourage your students to try include: [15] Freewriting, which is when you write freely about anything that comes to mind for a set amount of time, such as 10, 15, or 20 minutes.

Clustering, which is when you write your topic or topic idea on a piece of paper and then use lines to connect that idea to others. Listing, which is when you make a list of any and all ideas related to a topic and ten read through it to find helpful information for your paper.

Questioning, such as by answering the who, what, when, where, why, and how of their topic. Defining terms, such as identifying all of the key terms related to their topic and writing out definitions for each one. Instruct students on different ways to organize their thoughts. Once students have developed some preliminary ideas for their essay, they may be wondering how to organize everything in a way that makes sense.

Show students different approaches to organizing an essay depending on their topic and the essay's genre. If students are writing expository or argumentative essays, then they might need to start by answering the most important questions about their topic and providing background information. For a descriptive essay, students might use spatial reasoning to describe something from top to bottom, or organize the descriptive paragraphs into categories for each of the 5 senses, such as sight, sound, smell, taste, and feel.

Use in-class writing exercises to help students develop ideas. You will often need to explain concepts to students, and this may involve you talking and writing on the board or using a PowerPoint for a portion of the class. However, it is also important to get students talking and thinking about the concepts you are trying to teach them. Try starting or ending each class with a writing exercise to get students engaged with a new concept or idea. Create a discussion board and require students to post regularly.

Using an online discussion board is a popular way to keep students engaged with the course material. They can access the board any time of the day or night and read what other students have written. This will also create a more laid back environment for students to complete writing activities than if you were to do timed activities in your classroom. You may also want to create a separate discussion board where students can post ideas about their essay and get feedback from you and their classmates.

Give students homework to help them develop their essays. Be thoughtful with the types of homework you assign so that it will be useful for your students as they work on their essays.

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How to Make Students Care About Writing

For example, you could assign students to write 1 paragraph of ideas for their paper as a first assignment. Then, they could choose a focus for the next homework assignment and expand on those ideas in a new paragraph. Schedule in-class revision sessions. Revision is an essential part of the writing process, but your students may not see it that way.

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To ensure that your students will revise their work, make revision part of the class. Explain different types of revision techniques to your students and then provide them with class time to revise their work. Provide students with a list of questions and strategies that they can use and allow them to choose what they find most helpful.

Students can work in pairs or groups during the workshop. Provide them with a worksheet, graphic organizer, or copy of the assignment rubric to guide their peer-review. Go with a topic that interests you and that conforms to the assignment.

Learning how to write an essay is crucial to admissions and scholarship decisions.

If you are unsure what topic works best, ask your teacher! Yes No. Not Helpful 0 Helpful 0. Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered. Already answered Not a question Bad question Other. Tips Students often need to write essays as part of college applications, for assignments in other courses, and when applying for scholarships. Remind your students of all the ways that improving their essay writing skills can benefit them.

Related wikiHows. Did this article help you? Cookies make wikiHow better. All teachers should know about their students that how they want to study or learn something new. It doesn't matter what they teachers are using for teaching. So according to me, we should follow both methods Smart classrooms as well as traditional classrooms as per our need. Notebooks are replaced by ipads. Where students were required to learn tables but now a days calculators , computers and so on.

Even though India is becoming disital India , traditional clasroom much better than smart classroom where every student needs to do his homework study on his own than taking help of smart machine. As we know that Digitalization has taken capture human beings in today era.

So, everything in this world has two side either pro and cons. As I support smart class teaching is a great advancement in term of teaching as compared to traditional teaching. Smart class teaching is beneficial for students to get practical knowledge in depth rather than traditional teaching.

It includes online live class, projector class or either presentation of video, files, documents etc which gets fitted directly into the minds of students practically. As we human being has a great sense of power to learn anything either through mugging songs or watching the video. So, these are the advantage of smart class teaching as well as traditional teaching.

Cons include teachers get bored due to clicking slides next and getting less interest in the deep study as they thought students get to understand. The students need not feel to attend class regularly due to content syllabus, lectures available on the internet, due to which teacher and students interaction get decreased. Smart classroom is best for todays pupiles, because they need some attractive visual teaching that is more lively.