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.

 

The Meaning of Poker Chips

1997-98 was my first year as a teacher. I worked at a private school in Cincinnati as the middle school intern. I still consider that year to be the most important year of my professional life because it left no doubt in me that choosing education for my career was the absolutely right choice. I haven’t regretted that decision since, even on the difficult days. That year was also my introduction to Richard Lavoie and his philosophy on the importance of self esteem on learners called, “When the Chips are Down.” Mr. Lavoie compares self esteem of a student (his focus is on students with learning difficulties) to having poker chips. He believes the more “chips” one has, the more readily that student will take risks and grow.

I remember watching this video during my first year and then again in my second year teaching. My buddies and I quoted Lavoie often mocking the idea and telling each other things like, “you must not have many poker chips” or “that took a lot of poker chips to do that.” However, the idea resonated with me as one where I wanted to be a teacher who looked for ways to help kids gain or at least maintain their “poker chips” (self-esteem).

Conceptually, the analogy worked for me, even if it was a little sloppy. While comparing life to a poker game was not ideal, I did find that the idea a poker player with several chips would take risks that another player with only a few chips would not take seemed logical to what I had experienced in life. Confident students take risks that kids without confidence do not take. More importantly, kids with high self esteem can often take criticism more effectively then those with low esteem. The student with high esteem may look at a lower then expected score as a challenge for future work and strive to do better next time where the kid with low esteem may view it as a flaw in their character. Consequently, the kid with the inflated self esteem seems to struggle the most with constructive feedback as they are so used to being told their perfect that the feedback can be confusing and forces them to wonder if those telling them they’re perfect are right or wrong. It causes real tension in relationships between students, parents and teachers (and schools) when this is the case.

As teachers and parents, we have a lot of sway with our kids. We can give esteem, over-inflate it, or take it away in the way we talk (or not talk) to kids, in how we maintain patience with them, or when we allow them to take ownership in their learning and understanding. We have to be honest in our interactions or as this video shows, someone else will be brutally honest. Kids who are struggling need to know that they are struggling and need to be given tools to help them work through those struggles. Overcoming their difficulties will give them the kinds of self esteem that we want our kids to have. They’ll know that they can rely on themselves to solve problems, but they will also know that they can rely on your support to help them through those problems. In the end, it is that lesson that has ultimately guided my path as a teacher and now a parent. Plus, I’ve learned to be pretty good at beating my neighbors in poker.

 

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?