Tips for Teachers: How to Explain Essay Writing to Your Students

As an educator, you have a responsibility to motivate your students to acquire skills that are necessary for their progress. In college, they will have to write a great number of challenging papers, assignments, reports, and other types of academic content. You have a mission to teach them how to express their thoughts clearly in the form of an essay.

How to Explain Essay Writing to Your Students

Unfortunately, that’s not an easy goal to achieve. Teachers need to implement a strategy that will bring the principles of essay writing closer to the student’s understanding. When explaining the process of academic writing, you need teach your students how to cover each step.

Basic Principles of Academic Writing

Defining a topic

Some teachers like to assign topics, but it’s recommended to allow your students to express their creativity right from the start.

In order to think of a clear topic that will enable them to write an elaborate discussion, your students will first need to conduct a research. Allow your students to use online sources, but instruct them to rely on facts, not opinions. Explain the methods your students can use to find reliable resources. Offer practical research tactics and show how they can use the information wisely in their own content.

Learning from examples

It is impossible to teach your students how to write papers through theory. You need to show them how a brilliant essay looks like. Do you have your own piece of academic writing you’re particularly proud of? Use it as an example! You can also show an essay written by one of your former students who understood what academic writing was all about.

Writing with a purpose

Explain to your students that an essay is not about writing repetitive sentences with general information. Once the student chooses a topic, he should define the purpose of the discussion and lead all sentences towards a clear point.

Constructing an outline

One of the most important parts of the academic writing process is the outline. You should give a practical lesson of creating an outline. Make a list of points you would elaborate on that topic, and show what arguments you would use. That will help your students understand that it’s easier to write the paper if they first prepare its basic construction.

The writing process

This is the most challenging part of your job. Your students should understand what the introduction, body, and conclusion of the essay are supposed to contain. Creativity is very important, so make sure you allow some space for them to express that side. Listen to their suggestions and discuss different opinions.

Useful Resources for Essay Writing

In order to make the entire process of writing easier for your students, you should suggest some tools that will help them stay focused and get the inspiration they need. Here is a selection of tools that have been proven to work well for students:

Essay Map by ReadWriteThink is a free tool that enables your students to create an outline within minutes. Instead of writing a confusing outline in their notebooks, they will be able to add more appeal to this stage through the structured map available at the website.

NinjaEssays is an online paper writing service that enables you to order any type of academic content or get your own papers edited. If you cannot find an example of a perfect essay on the given topic, the professional writers at this website can complete it for you. That’s the best way to show a great piece of content that will motivate your students to write better.

Strict Workflow is a Chrome extension that forces your students to get back to writing by disabling them to access YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other distracting websites when they need to focus on writing.

501 Writing Prompts is an eBook that offers great writing prompts for persuasive, expository, narrative, and literary response essays. When your students are stuck with their papers, they can get the inspiration they need from these creative prompts.

The Writing Center of UNC College of Arts & Sciences is a useful resource not only for your students, but for you as well. The free online resources offer free advice on how to write different types of academic content.


Educational App Store ShowMe Review

Upon opening the app the user is taken through a set of guided instructions that help you understand the application and its interface. Although it is an option we recommend that you create an account to truly appreciate the capabilities of this app.

A simple press of the record button and you are creating your first ShowMe presentation. The tools here are adequate with the ability to use text, colour, add images and an eraser. This can be somewhat limited and sometimes the presentations created are only as good as the presenter or artist, more tools are available through the premium service.  The app could benefit from a clip art tool here. The presentation can be enhanced by using the voice over feature to explain your thoughts as you present and draw. Once the ShowMe presentation has been created you can save this as a draft, for further editing, or a finished presentation. We found the app slightly frustrating that once saved it then asks you to add to a topic for others to access and posts the presentation, you can only save this privately if you sign up for the premium service. However, what we need to stress is the potential of this app has to engage teaching and learning. As a teacher if you are planning a lesson keep in mind its versatility and potential for homework tasks and flipped-class applications. A maths problem solved by a teacher can be played back by the student time and time again in class and at home. This has great potential for parents to learn the topic as well.

The developers can be congratulated on the potential that ShowMe has to offer for both teaching and learning. The online ShowMe community has embraced this application and teachers from all over the globe are sharing presentations. This is a fantastic app that comes highly recommended by the Educational App Store.

EAS Certification





How-to use the new Explore

You may have noticed that ShowMe has changed lately. We’ve completely redesigned the app to making learning easier!

To get started with the new ShowMe Explore here’s a guide:

  1. Browse your recommendations! We’ve provided personalized recommendations for you
  2. Browse by categories! Now, when you tap on a category, all of the subcategories will be revealed. This is a great way to browse featured ShowMes by subject.
  3. Can’t find what you’re looking for? Tap the search box to type what you’re looking for. Your search results can be filtered by topic, people, or ShowMes!

New ShowMe Feature: Adding student accounts!

We’ve been working hard this summer to add some new features for the school year. We noticed that many teachers wanted the ability to manage student accounts and that students often do not have access to email. So, we built an easy way for you to create student accounts! Email is not required and teacher’s have total oversight over what kids are up to.


First, open up ShowMe and tap Activity. Look for the green button that lets you Find more people to follow




Second, in the bottom left corner side of the screen that appears, tap Create a student account




Next, enter your student information. Remember to indicate if they are under age 14! Tap Create Account when you’re ready




You’re done! You’ll receive and email with the login information and password which you can give to your student.



If you’d like to change the username or password, just login and navigate to the student’s name in the top left corner of the app. Tap it and select Settings to make changes.


Stories (An Epiphany)

The thing about stories is that they don’t have to fascinate the storyteller. I mean, the event doesn’t have to be fascinating or extraordinary to you to have meaning to your audience.  Sometimes it’s the mundane that provides a lesson worth telling. I tell stories to my students all the time, some entertaining some not so, and I’m often struck by what they connect with in the story.
A story I have shared often with my students is the story of a bowling class I took in college. It’s not an interesting story, but I tell them how when I learned how to throw a hook and count boards, I immediately lost 30 pins on my average. I share that story with them to say, “Sometimes when you learn something new or develop a new skill your overall ability suffers in the short term, to make you better in the long term.” I tell them I’m a better bowler now than I would have been had I never learned these skills, but I was a frustrated bowler as I continued to practice. I use the story in math or coaching basketball because sometimes students need to know that learning often comes out of struggle. You backslide and grasp to old habits, but when the challenges get more difficult, you realize the old habits don’t help you, but the new skills and knowledge will. Once I tell the story to a room of fifth graders they start asking me about what my average bowling score was and is now, and I tell them my scores and say, “I’m far from a professional and I don’t play much anymore.” That’s irrelevant because usually when I tell that story it’s for the  benefit of the kids who think “Why do I need to show my work when I can solve it in my head?” or “Why should I shoot the ball from above my head when I make plenty of shots shooting it from my hip?” As teachers and coaches we can see the bigger picture, and our stories, especially ones that tell of our struggles, can help them learn a little more about that picture. Share.


Our Experience at ISTE 2012

One year ago ShowMe was actually launched at ISTE. Needless to say the ShowMe team was excited to be in San Diego this past Sunday-Wednesday for ISTE 2012. This Conference, hosted by the International Society for Technology In Education (ISTE) is one of the largest Educational Technology events in the world each year. Thousands of people from many different countries gathered together to attend workshops, foster new relationships, and learn about new innovations regarding technology in education.

Things We Did:

On Monday and Tuesday ShowMe had an Ice Cream Truck outside of the convention center handing out free ice cream to all attendees.

ShowMe team in front of the ice cream truck. Like our shirts?

Happy attendees enjoying ice cream and their new Boxwave styli

The best part of the conference was being able to meet and reconnect with so many awesome people and share ShowMe with them. Special thanks to and Boxwave for donating giftcards and styli for us to share with the ShowMe community!

It was really beneficial to have the opportunity to meet current users and hear their ideas and feedback firsthand.  We were finally able to meet ShowMe Ambassador and power user JR Ginex-Orinion*, a Chemistry teacher from Orange County, CA. We also met two educators from Chile,  @jessievaz12 and @titialvayay, who’ve used ShowMe in their classroom, and @kcakderw and Educational Technology enthusiast who created These are just a few of the awesome conversations we had at ISTE, thanks to everyone who sat down to chat with us! We had a blast!

*JR wrote a great post-ISTE blog post filled with some really good advice if you are interested in attending the conference next year. Take a look here.




Friday Round Up 6/22/2012

Happy Weekend Everyone! We hope to see some of you at ISTE in San Diego from Sunday June 24th to Wednesday June 27th! Take a peek at our collection of ISTE Survival Guide ShowMes here. 
AFT and Britain’s TES Connect Unveil ‘Share My Lesson,’Which Will Become Largest Online Site for U.S. Teacher Resources
This is a press release from the American Federation of Teachers. They, along with Britain’s TES Connect,  just released the website Share My Lesson which is now the largest online community for US teachers to share their lesson plans, resources and ideas. AFT president Randi Weingarten explained that this initiative aims to help teachers that often face barriers to receiving free shared resources from other teachers across the country. The website will allow teachers to upload resources as well as rate and review resources of others. An important additional feature will be the high supply of resources created to support Common Core Standards, which are being implemented in 46 states this Fall. Randi Weingarten believes this will become the “single most important tool the AFT has launched in over a generation.”
7 Things Graduating Seniors Should Know About College
These tips are a compilation of excerpts from the book “The Secrets of College Success” by Lynn F Jacobs and Jeremy S. Hyman. They focus on the academic side of college, topics ranging from when to pick your major, to what to expect when writing a paper. Jacobs and Hyman make the great point that a college paper requires “analysis and research” at a much higher level than high school. (This was something that took me a few months to fully grasp in my freshman year!)

Before Standardized Tests, Teaching Children Not to Drown
Swim For Life is a project in New York City that was brought to life parks commissioner Adrian Benepe, who knew many drowning deaths each year could be prevented if everyone had access to swim lessons. Although weekend and summer courses are available in the city, Benepe felt it was important that swim lessons were provided to students during school hours. Over the past 18 months 14,385 second graders in New York City have participated in swim lessons during school hours at indoor pools across the city. The program has been a success, especially for those students that  started the program petrified of water. After ten weeks these students were able to confidently and happily swim.

Developing A Student iPad Leadership In Your School
Many kids have the ability to pick up an iPad and begin downloading apps and playing games within minutes. However key skills like troubleshooting issues, keeping safe online and learning effectively through technology may not come as naturally to students. It is our responsibility as educators to teach students proper digital citizenship. This article contains several awesome resources you can use to teach your students how to troubleshoot problems and use an iPad effectively and safely in school.


ShowMe of the Week: Find the Missing Angle

This ShowMe created by Harry Amos is awesome for several reasons.

1. He gives us a great overview of how to find the missing angle of a triangle!

2. He created some really nice looking images for the intro of his ShowMe using the Paper53 iPad app. (It’s a great app- I recommend it!)

3. He finishes the ShowMe video with a picture of Success Kid– can it get any better?

Be sure to check out his entire library of helpful math videos!


Friday Round Up 6/15/2012

RIP White MacBook: The Future of Apple Computers at School
This Monday Apple hosted its annual Developer Conference and presented all new updates to the Mac Line. The big news for schools was the unveiling of iOS 6 for the iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch, available this fall. The update included “guided access” which allows teachers and parents to restrict students to viewing one app at a time or limit touch input. This is a great feature for schools with iPads, and the number of schools with iPads is growing rapidly. In the second quarter of 2012 iPads outnumbered sales of macs to schools by a ratio of 2:1. Even with the increasing popularity of iPads in schools, many still wonder why there is no replacement computer for the white macbook pro that was very popular in schools. The white macbook was sold for $999 had a large amount of memory and a CD drive, but they were taken off the market it 2011. The only computer in the same price range currently is the 11 inch Macbook Air which in addition to being two inches smaller, also does not have as much memory or a CD drive. Perhaps iPads are becoming the go-to computer for schools.

Can Free, High-Quality Education Get You A Job?

It is fantastic to see the increasing number of free, high quality, online college courses being offered by top name schools. It’s a huge step in the right direction when it comes to democratizing education and bringing it to people affordably at a large scale. But can these courses help you obtain a job? Mindshift recently asked company recruiters from tech start-ups, finance firms and banking companies if they would consider non-traditional candidates who received their education from these schools. At this point in time it seemed like all three fields were hesitant to accept a candidate that did not have a traditional college education. I would be interested to see if this changes in five years, after courses are more established and taught on a broader array of topics.

Personalized Learning – Swedish Style
Outside of Stockholm lies one of Sweden’s top-performing schools – Kunskapsskolan Tyresö. This is one of a network of 33 Kunskapsskolan schools in Sweeden, all funded by a public voucher system with no tuition that accepts students on a first come first serve basis. Key tenets of the school culture include interdisciplinary work, collaboration between students, and technology. Every inch of space is used in the school and filled with tables, chairs, and gather places for students to collaborate. All students responsible for setting personal learning goals for themselves and create strategies to reach them. My favorite aspect of this school culture is the coaching sessions each student has once per week for 15 minutes with their teacher. This is a highly personalized and structured discussion where students share their weekly assignments, reiterate what they have learned, and share what their goals are at this point in time. There are certain issues with this program- for example the voucher system it uses is a very controversial topic in larger school programs like the one in US. But I thought this was a really interesting look at a different program that is seeing success.

College Attendance Costs up 15% Over Two Years, Report Finds
The US Department of Education recently released its listings of public and private universities tuition and fees. These listings show that the average cost of attendance at a university or college in the United States has increased over 15% in the past two years. These increases are partially due to the cuts in funding for many public schools across the country. In some states, public school tuition increases has increased over 40%. Over the past decade school tuition prices have increased by an average of 5.6% per year.


Friday Round Up 6/8/2012

7 Habits of Highly Effective Tech-leading Principals
THE Journal recently surveyed school principals across the country, asking them what attributes a principal should demonstrate when striving to effectively lead technology implementation in their schools. They compiled the seven most frequently mentioned attributes along with comments from three effective technology leaders that successfully implemented technology in their schools. This list includes some stand out ideas and discusses the value of creating an atmosphere that inspires innovation, the importance of fostering collaboration in your school, and being open to new ideas.
Way Beyond Bake Sales: The $1 Million PTA
In recent years the PTA at several public schools in more affluent areas of New York city have have raised close to one million dollars per school year for their school. Parents spend this money on technology in the classroom, resource teachers, healthy lunch options for students, and most importantly programs in the arts and after school activities that have been hit especially hard by budget cuts in recent years. Over the past five years New York City has cut school budgets by an average of 13.7% While it is astounding how much money some PTA’s were able to raise, the main takeaway I have from this article is how many schools that aren’t able to receive this type of funding. This means these schools continue to be understaffed, fall behind technologically, and can’t always provide activities and healthy lunches for their students. In a public school system, why should it be up to parents to provide quality learning conditions for students?

‘Why’ Questions Play Big Role in Early Learning
In the new book Trusting What You’re Told, Harvard Education professor Paul L. Harris questions the longstanding idea that children should be self learners. He focuses on the importance of toddlers asking “why” questions at a young age, and how children are not only asking questions for attention, they are actually attempting to grasp a clear picture in their mind about issues they do not understand. Harris also studies the impact of a mother’s education has on the inquisitiveness of a her child, and why children trust their parents.

Is Education a Girl Thing?
In this opt-ed article several questions are addressed. How does gender impact the profession of teaching? In an industry with a higher percentage of women than men, why is it that men make up the majority of policy and produce most of the media surrounding education? How would things change if more women were in control of education policy, philosophy and practice?