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lvondy 07-20-2009 01:52 PM

Essay Questions?
This will be my third year teaching SS to 6th-8th graders. I would really like to work on teaching them HOW to answer essay questions. Does anyone have any advice or any websites that would lead me in the right direction? Thanks so much!

**also posted on the SS board**

MiddlingAZ 07-20-2009 02:48 PM

First, do you have a good graphic organizer for an essay? This is the best way to start teaching HOW. There are tons out there. A lot are for a 5 paragraph essay, but can easily be adapted to fewer. Even a one-paragraph response would have the same elements.
I googled my favorite, which is a called a pillar, but this is the first result that popped up so I grabbed it just so you can see an example.

Your Language Arts teachers should be a good resource for organizers and to work hand in hand with you on this! I would imagine they have to cover expository essays in their curriculum and you would want to piggyback on how they teach it. Here is a quick outline of what I think is typical.

The first paragraph is the INTRO. The students should turn the prompt or question into the topic sentence. (What were the causes of the Revolution becomes There were many causes of the Revolution) Next, they need the thesis statement, which gives the reader a BRIEF overview of all the causes/reasons which will be discussed in the BODY. Transition words such as first, second, third or first, next, finally are simple when kids are first starting. You can find charts of these for kids to have as a reference. A good addition after the topic/thesis are drafted is a Lead, aka hook or attention-grabber. This is actually the first sentence and can be a question, dramatic statement, interesting fact, bold opinion and so on, but should lead into the topic sentence. You can also find lessons on sample Leads.

The BODY is generally organized into separate paragraphs, one for each point introduced in the thesis statement. Each paragraph contains support, details, examples, reasons, and so on.

The last paragraph is the CONCLUSION. Basically, avoid "In conclusion" and restate the topic/thesis in different words.

Scholastic has good resources on teaching the 5 paragraph expository essay, but I really think you should be able to find ample guides online. This is a big topic and I've only scratched the surface here, hoping further posters will fill more in. You'll probably get good tips on the SS board, too! Good for you for undertaking this.

mytwoboys 07-22-2009 08:57 PM

Answering Essay Questions
I wish my other content teachers would do more essay questions! Is this for a test or just essays in general? If it's for a test, I tell my students to make bullets in the margin that answer the question. After they know they answer, they can focus on the writing component. First, it is important that they restate the question. I tell them, "Dont start with a question word like, How the civil war began was..." This creates long, awkward sentences. Beginning writers will also try to answer the question in the topic sentence. This is fine if it's a short answer question, but terrible if it's an essay because once again you get run-on or awkward sentences. Don't forget to have them support their answers with evidence from the text or to back up their opinions. This is very important-especially since state testing really looks for this in the comm arts portion. End with a conclusion. To help the kids write a strong conclusion, I have them think of the questions, what did I learn from this or why is this important? Like the last post writer said, there is a lot to writing quality essays, but maybe this will help without being too overwhelming!

Mammoo 07-28-2009 11:01 AM

Check out writing fix
They have excellent resource material including grade level examples, rubrics, graphic organizers, student examples that the students can practice grading. It is under reading and is called Constructed Response Resources.

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