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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.To help them make this connection, I would have them do some informal debate on easy, high-interest topics.
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.
Then they take turns explaining why they are standing in that position.
This ultimately looks a little bit like a debate, as students from either side tend to defend their position to those on the other side.
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.
I don’t claim to have the definitive answer on how to do this, but the method I share here worked pretty well for me, and it might do the same for you.
If you are an experienced English language arts teacher, you probably already have a system for teaching this skill that you like.
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.