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Helping Your Students Improve their Essay Writing

written by: Julia Bodeeb•edited by: SForsyth•updated: 10/26/2012

Help your students learn how to write a strong, memorable essay. These basic tips will keep their essay writing skills sharp.

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    Build Persuasive Writing Skills

    Students need daily writing practice to improve their writing skills. The end goal is to have them excel both in essay assignments as well as on standardized tests. One way to obtain this constant level of writing practice is to assign short “Do Now" writing assignments as students enter the room. Some days give students an assigned topic and other days let them pick their own topic. Both methods give students good practice for the stress of writing on assigned topics or picking one’s own topic for standardized tests.

    Also give students frequent in-class and homework essay assignments. Students should have essay writing practice all year, not just in the months leading up to the standardized test. Give students essay writing rubrics at the start of the school year and go over them with the class every time an essay is assigned.

    When the class begins an essay assignment inform the students of the following guidelines:

    • The essay must be at least 5 paragraphs.
    • Clearly present the thesis statement in the first paragraph and stick with the opinion presented; do not try to present both sides of an issue.
    • Use a clear introduction, body, and conclusion in the essay.
    • Present at least 3 major facts and examples to support your thesis.
    • Check carefully to ensure the examples you use are logical and fully support your thesis statement.
    • Use strong words and vivid examples throughout the essay.
    • In the summary, restate the thesis statement and repeat the most compelling fact.
    • Remember, a persuasive essay has to convince the reader of your opinion.
    • Edit the essay carefully.
    • For timed essays such as students do on standardized tests, brainstorm ideas quickly, start a draft, and allow yourself enough time to edit the draft.
    • Write neatly or type the essay.

    To assess student progress with essay assignments maintain a writing folder for each student. Do a detailed grading of each essay using the criteria on the writing rubric. Then meet with students individually to discuss the graded essays in their writing folder.

    Make it clear to students that it gets harder to earn a high grade on an essay as the year goes on. Essays should show improvement in writing and editing with each progressive assignment.