- Encourage free writing to begin with. Tell students not to worry what they write: just write what they know to begin with. The important thing is to get into the practice of writing.
- You only know the beginning when you know the end. that they probably change the introduction anyway once they have finished the essays because most experienced writers know their beginning when they’ve written their end.
- Read, read, read! Encourage students to read a number of essays over the course so they are familiar with the style of the essay.
- Model.Model what effective essays look like by encouraging students to read through the essays in groups and pick out what works and what does not.
- Walking talking essay writing. Either you or a good student could show on a podcast, video or in front of the students live (if you’re brave) what you’re thinking as you are writing various parts of the essay such as the introduction.
- Phrase and word banks. Encourage them to keep a word bank of useful phrases and vocabulary.
- Provide sentence starters. SEND and EAL students in particular may need sentence starters to get them writing.
- Stress the purpose of the essay. Essays are ways of thinking about topics. Stress the importance of students showing that they have found out something through the process of writing the essay.
- Encourage reflection during the essay writing. Encourage students to reflect upon the strategies and processes that are working for them as they write the essay.
- Chunking. Encourage students to “chunk” off time when they do nothing but write, or read, or discuss, breaking up the essay writing process in manageable chunks.
- Be enthusiastic about the topic. Make your passion for the topic infectious; show that you’re interested in the essay.
- Mix up the learning: individual, pair work, group work, jigsawing. Encourage students to work with different people and find strategies that help them work by themselves.
- Discourage multi-tasking. Don’t allow students to listen to music as they work as there is a lot of evidence that this does not help them get on with the work.
What do you think of these pieces of advice? Think about them critically, and encourage your students to do so. For example, my worry with this first slide is that if students copy the phrases blindly they may well write very ‘generic’ sounding essays.
This slide is not specifically aimed at writing English essays but I thought it was useful.
What do you think of the advice here?