If you are an educator who has been tasked with teaching essay writing to high schoolers, do not lose hope. There are resources out there at your disposal. For many (not all) high school students, essay writing can be quite an arduous task, and if it is not properly taught then the student will suffer in the long run.
Teaching Tips for Essay Writing
There are many ways that you can approach the task of teaching essay writing. The main thing that you should do is keep an open mind. While you should not ignore the basic rules of essay writing, you should also come up with your own approach to making the teaching process and the simultaneous learning process productive for both you and the students in your class.
Usually high school English classes require a basic five paragraph essay as the standard for testing a student's writing ability. The best way for you as an educator to convey this is by breaking the paragraphs up into smaller parts. Students will better be able to digest the brunt of the lesson when you break each paragraph up. In doing this you can actually put together a mini outline as a means of illustrating to your secondary students how to effectively write an essay.
Thesis and Writing the Essay
It is not unusual for students to feel intimidated by having to write an essay. That is why it is up to you as the educator to put their inquisitive minds at ease.
If the task is to write about a book, then you should pick out five statements as relevant to the storyline of that book. This will definitely eliminate the tension and stress that surrounds the whole notion of navigating through a book for a thesis.
The key to teaching secondary school students about writing is to ease their tension at all costs. So initially, the more tools that you provide them with, the better off they will inevitably be.
Examples and Guides
Once you have five statements about the book written out, you should select one to use as a guide for the class.
Let's say (for the sake of illustration) that you are reviewing the book The Count of Monte Cristo; you can draw a few strong statements from that book, such as "revenge can be bittersweet."
As the educator you can either choose to expand upon that phrase or just leave it as is and allow the students to draw examples from the book in support of or against the phrase. Revenge is a pinnacle theme in that particular book and as you illustrate the idea your outline will first reflect the thesis being "revenge is bittersweet" and the supporting paragraphs that are either in favor of or against the thesis.
Illustrate how each paragraph in the essay would need to begin with a topic sentence. So if the first paragraph is an introductory paragraph that presents the thesis, the second, third and fourth paragraphs, will each need to begin with a topic sentence in support of the thesis.
Emphasize how the students should use quotations from the story in support of their stance. You can do this by having at least six quotes that you have pulled from the story that are either in favor or in opposition of the thesis.
If you give the students a paragraph a day to complete along with their outlines for homework within a week's time you will be surprised how fast they will catch on and desire to learn more.
The fifth and last paragraph should be a conclusion type of paragraph that ties everything together and verifies that the thesis was actually proven. This is probably the easiest paragraph that students will write because they can draw from their other paragraphs.
As long as you encourage creativity and integrity in the classroom, your secondary students will thrive when writing their essays.