Use your concept map or plan
Write your assignment using your map or plan to guide you. As you write, you may well get new ideas or think about ideas in slightly different ways. This is fine, but check back to your map or plan to evaluate whether that idea fits well into the plan or the paragraph that you are writing at the time. Consider: In which paragraph does it best fit? How does it link to the ideas you have already discussed?
For every paragraph, think about the main idea that you want to communicate in that paragraph and write a clear topic sentence which tells the reader what you are going to talk about. A main idea is more than a piece of content that you found while you were researching, it is often a point that you want to make about the information that you are discussing. Consider how you are going to discuss that idea (what is the paragraph plan). For example, are you: listing a number of ideas, comparing and contrasting the views of different authors, describing problems and solutions, or describing causes and effects?
Use linking words throughout the paragraph. For example:
- List paragraphs should include words like: similarly, additionally, next, another example, as well, furthermore, another, firstly, secondly, thirdly, finally, and so on.
- Cause and effect paragraphs should include words like: consequently, as a result, therefore, outcomes included, results indicated, and so on.
- Compare and contrast paragraphs should include words like: on the other hand, by contrast, similarly, in a similar way, conversely, alternatively, and so on.
- Problem solution paragraphs should include words like: outcomes included, identified problems included, other concerns were overcome by, and so on.
Some paragraphs can include two plans, for example a list of problems and solutions. While this is fine, it is often clearer to include one plan per paragraph.
Look at your plan or map and decide on the key concepts that link the different sections of your work. Is there an idea that keeps recurring in different sections? This could be a theme that you can use to link ideas between paragraphs. Try using linking words (outlined above) to signal to your reader whether you are talking about similar ideas, whether you are comparing and contrasting, and so on. The direction that your thinking is taking in the essay should be very clear to your reader. Linking words will help you to make this direction obvious.
Different parts of the essay:
While different types of essays have different requirements for different parts of the essay, it is probably worth thinking about some general principles for writing introductions, body paragraphs and conclusions. Always check the type of assignment that you are being asked to produce and consider what would be the most appropriate way to structure that type of writing.
Remember that in most (not all) writing tasks, especially short tasks (1,000 to 2,000 words), you will not write headings such as introduction and conclusion. Never use the heading ‘body’.
Writing an introduction:
Introductions need to provide general information about the topic. Typically they include:
- Background, context or a general orientation to the topic so that the reader has a general understanding of the area you are discussing.
- An outline of issues that will and will not be discussed in the essay (this does not have to be a detailed list of the ideas that you will discuss). An outline should be a general overview of the areas that you will explore.
- A thesis or main idea which is your response to the question.
Here is an example of an introduction:
It is often a good idea to use some of the words from the question in the introduction to indicate that you are on track with the topic. Do not simply recount the question word for word.
Writing the body:
- Each paragraph should make a point which should be linked to your outline and thesis statement.
- The most important consideration in the body paragraphs is the argument that you want to develop in response to the topic. This argument is developed by making and linking points in and between paragraphs.
Try structuring paragraphs like this:
- Topic sentence: open the paragraph by making a point
- Supporting sentences: support the point with references and research
- Conclusive sentence: close the paragraph by linking back to the point you made to open the paragraph and linking this to your thesis statement.
Here is an example of a body paragraph from the essay about education and globalisation:
As you write the body, make sure that you have strong links between the main ideas in each of the paragraphs.
Writing the conclusion:
This is usually structured as follows:
- Describe in general terms the most important points made or the most important linkage of ideas
- Do not include new information, therefore it does not usually contain references
- End with a comment, a resolution, or a suggestion for issues that may be addressed in future research on the topic.
Here is an example conclusion from the essay on education:
From mad libs to story maps, everything you need to make writing fun.
1. Online Mad Libs
Nothing teaches parts of speech with as much laugh-out-loud joy as a good game of Mad Libs. With the Wacky Tales link at funbrain.com, students can choose from a variety of already selected words or use that list to inspire them to come up with their own descriptions. Their stories are guaranteed to be hilarious, and the activity is ideal for those students who are shy about sharing.
2. Write Your Own Folktales
Since at least the dawn of cafeteria food, kids have enjoyed hearing myths. Using Scholastic's website, kids can weave their own myths, folktales, and fairy tales using superb examples of all three. Be sure to have them check out the link to the Storytelling Workshop, a listen-and-watch workshop with Gerald Fierst performing the West African folktale "How Monkey Stole the Drum."
3. AHA!, YO!, and ZuZu
What are AHA!, YO!, and ZuZu? Find out when you and your students go beyond the classroom and visit this website, a comprehensive list of online publications looking for student submissions in all genres and media, for all ages.
4. Writer's Block Cures
"I just can't think of anything to write." Heard those words before? Ironically, it's often all that thinking getting in the way of writing. The Purdue Online Writing Lab offers one of the best virtual remedies for writer's block, including a comprehensive list of "symptoms" and "possible cures" to keep things flowing in the brain and on the paper. Share the list with your students and invite them to come up with their own solutions to the writing blues.
5. My Hero
Contests are a great way to remind students that competition should bring out the best in an individual for the greater good of the whole. For one online contest that keeps this higher purpose in mind, look no further than myhero.com. This international contest asks individuals, classes, even entire schools to submit essays and multimedia art (including video) to honor their heroes, and teaches kids that the best motivation for writing is through the heart.
6. Story Maps and Graphic Organizers
Graphic organizers are key for young writers, and for those writers who are primarily visual learners, story mapping takes it one step further. This site describes story mapping in detail and includes lesson plans and a rubric that will motivate students to make deeper connections between character and actions and get those marker-happy kids even happier.
7. ELL/ESL Games and Quizzes
How many times do you wish you could give your English language learners computer assignments that will truly build their writing skills? This website is a goldmine of ELL/ESL games and activities, including interactive crossword puzzles and multiple-choice quizzes in both grammar and vocabulary. Need something in Urdu? No problem. The site contains bilingual quizzes in over 50 languages.
8. Get Published
One of the many advantages of the Internet is the way it has opened up the possibility for writers of all levels to get published. YouthInkit.com contains wonderful examples of published articles from groups of students throughout the country. The site is separated into links and resources for three distinct groups-students, teachers, and parents-so students may want to explore on their own and you may want to add it to your list of recommended sites for families. What a great way to celebrate writing outside of the classroom walls.
9. The Daily Buzzword
There are many online dictionaries, but none we found were as versatile or fun for students as wordcentral.com, Merriam-Webster's website that's strictly for kids. The site's dictionary, thesaurus, and word games are terrific, but the "Daily Buzzword" is the real winner. This feature includes a word of the day, its meaning, how it's used, and an "Are you a word wiz?" multiple-choice quiz for those who love a challenge.
10. Do the Twist
The Twist, the Sausage, and the Up and Down may sound like moves from the dance floor, but they're actually three of the offbeat poetic structures you can learn about from this under-the-radar website from the University of Oregon. Lesson plans included (for both poetry and fiction writing) are suitable for all ages, backgrounds, and interests.
11. Rubrics at the Ready
Who doesn't love a good rubric? This site is comprehensive. The Rubrics for Primary Grades are varied and specific to each grade level, and the links under Creating Your Own Rubrics are helpful not only for teachers but for older students ready to put the assessment tools in their own hands.
12. Persuasive Writing for K-5
Think persuasive writing is just for middle schoolers? Think again! This site includes valuable resources-printouts, lesson plans for different levels, links, and a student interactive-for teaching the art of persuasion to kids in kindergarten through fifth grade. The lessons on Fact vs. Opinion, Peer Review, and Speechwriting are particularly excellent.
13. Preventing Plagiarism
With the accessibility of online information, plagiarism is more insidious than ever. For the most kid-friendly expla-nation, and tips to prevent plagiarism, print out the article in kidshealth.org. (Just remember to cite the source from which you got it!)
14. Get on the Raft
One of the most proven ways to get students to consider the importance of objective and audience is through the RAFT technique. RAFT (an acronym for Role of the Writer, Audience, Format, Topic) is to writing what method acting is to drama, and this website, complete with lesson plans and a rubric, is a great starting kit.
15. What If? Prompts
What if cows gave root beer instead of milk? What if it really did rain cats and dogs? These are just two examples from over 200 of the writing prompts listed on this site. Questions range from silly to introspective and guarantee more smiles and less groans during freewriting and journal time.
16. Citation is for Kids
Although many students don't learn how to source properly until high school (or, sadly, college), you can get your students ahead of the game with this site. Whether it's a page on a website, an image from the Internet, or a personal e-mail, documentation is the best way to give "props" where they're due.
17. Vocabulary Challenge
"I finished typing my final draft two days ago. Can't I just play computer games?" If you've heard this before (and you have), direct your gifted (or just super-motivated) student to this website full of challenging online quizzes for grammar, vocabulary, and literary devices.
18. The Play is the Medium
For many of your students, performance can be a strong motivation to write. This website from Edutopia contains links to three outstanding online resources for teaching playwriting, a list of theater outreach groups in your area, and some helpful tips to get the words to jump off the page in more ways than one. Look for the downloadable lesson plans on creating characters and conflict.
19. Gingerbread, mmm.
Language arts and the sciences intersect when it's time to teach sensory details, and this site has 10 inventive ideas for lessons that focus on sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. For the ultimate four-dimensional storytelling experience, try the "Gingerbread Man" retelling using the scent of actual gingerbread.
20. Writing for Change
This is every middle school English teacher's dream site for its ability to inspire some thoughtful, dialogue-
provoking writing. The site includes over 50 activities that take from five minutes to one hour.
21. Free Typing Class
One of the most basic technical aspects of writing in the 21st century is knowing how to type, but the irony of growing up with smart-phones is how few can do it using more than two fingers. Luckily it's easy and costs nothing to learn to type using the games on this fun website.
22. "If I had the power"
This site lists over 30 writing activities to promote self-reflection for students of all levels. The titles alone (e.g.,"If I Had the Power," "I Am What I Think I Am!") are empowering; one can only imagine the positive vibes that will grow.
23. Allegory to Simile
At this site, you'll find a list of literary devices with clear descriptions and links to some bright ideas for lesson plans. (Any educational website that uses Pink Floyd's song "Time" to illustrate "various poetic devices that enhance the meaning" is a friend of ours.)
24. Word for Beginners
We assume that the digital generation is computer savvy, but many kids are only proficient in IMing and Facebook. Here's a free Microsoft tutorial for Word to maximize their writing time and prepare for the world beyond.
25. National Writing Project
No list of writing resources would be complete without the National Writing Project. Teachers are also writing students, and NWP contains a library of stellar books on the art of teaching writing. It's a must for keeping your mind as sharp as your pencil.