Students understand that writing is a communication tool. Even in very early grades, they are writing notes to friends, letters to family members, and simple stories (and, of course, emails and texts.) By the time students reach upper elementary and middle school classes, they should be writing to organize thoughts, express opinions, and interconnect with the world. Learning to write a good essay is an important skill for any student. As a middle-school English teacher, I concentrated on having my students write one different type of essay per quarter: narrative, persuasive, expository, and descriptive.
Boys and girls are taught the writing process at a young age. They know it entails pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. These skills will be enhanced with each quarter’s essay.
Logically, students must be able to construct good paragraphs. They need to learn sentence structure, including concrete details and commentary. Time must be spent developing these concepts before effective essay writing can occur. Click here for tips on helping students to write effective essay paragraphs.
Before you embark upon essay-writing, spend time teaching the basic writing traits: ideas and content, organization, voice, and conventions. You can read my detailed explanation of the four writing traits here or take a look at the bulletin board idea that I used to reinforce the writing traits in my classroom. My students’ essays were evaluated using a rubric based on these four writing traits.
Quarterly Essay Types
A narrative essay tells a story by sharing details of an experience. It’s based upon something that really happened or could have happened. This is a good essay to use during the first quarter, as every student has a story to tell. There are skills to cultivate as students write narrative essays: character development, point of view, tense, colorful vocabulary, sequencing, use of dialogue, and a well-devised beginning, middle, and end. The story should make the reader anxious for what’s coming next. The experience should come alive.
Ideas: Essay Topic Idea’s Narrative Essay Topic Prompts
This essay gives the writer’s opinion and tries to convince the reader that it is valid. The writer may influence his audience into taking specific action. The topic has to be debatable-one in which there is more than one point of view. It can’t just be a personal preference of the author. The writer is taking a stand and persuading his audience to do the same. There is no right or wrong side in this type of essay. The essay should contain very good facts and examples at its basis. Emphasize to students that “ranting and raving” will not win over the audience. Most students are required to deliver at least one oral presentation in English class. Persuasive essays transition well into speeches.
Ideas: Custom Writing’s Top 50 Ideas for Persuasive Writing
The expository essay is written for the purpose of presenting information. It explains, informs, gives directions, or shows how to do something. The writer should emphasize key points and enhance the reader’s understanding. Expository essays generally fall into 3 types: process, summary, or definition. Process essays present a sequence of steps to accomplish a task. The writer uses lots of transitional words, such as first, next, and finally. Summary essays highlight important points and answer Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? Definition essays define by specific example. They always concern a concept or a human trait. Students should gather lots of facts in order to write effective expository essays. These essays could also be tied into demonstration presentations.
Ideas: Over 200 Expository Essay Prompts
The descriptive essay describes an object, feeling, person, or place in detail. The reader should be able to easily picture in her mind what the writer is describing. She should feel like she’s viewing it right there, in person. Students should keep the senses in mind as they write descriptive essays. The reader needs to see, hear, smell, taste, and feel whatever is being described.
Ideas: Educational Writing’s Descriptive Essay Topics Organized into Categories
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