How to write a great essay in ten simple steps

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Thanks to literacyideas.com for these great tips for parents, teachers and students about writing essays.  Many students get anxious about how to approach an essay, but these ten tips will make it a logical and simple process.

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Remember that if you are looking for more great free resources and structured guides to teaching all aspects of English especially writing be sure to visit literacyideas.com

If you would like some great essay topic suggestions be sure to check our recommendations here.


1.   Examine the essay question carefully

o   Highlight key words.

o   Use the dictionary to check the meaning of any unfamiliar words.

o   Identify the task words that indicate what needs to be done, eg ‘discuss', ‘explain', ‘compare'.

o   Identify the topic words that indicate the particular subject of the essay, eg the character of ‘Juliet' in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, the ‘causes' of World War 1.

o   Identify any limiting words that restrict the discussion to a particular area, eg in ‘Chapters 1-3', during the ‘nineteenth century'.

2.   Finalize any necessary reading or research as background to the essay

o   Be selective: use sources which are relevant and accessible.

o   Write notes in your own words.

o   Write down quotations that may be particularly useful, but ensure the source of these quotes is acknowledged if they're used.

o   Take note of sources so they can be provided in footnotes and the bibliography.

3.   Brainstorm your ideas in response to the question

o   Jot down any relevant points.

o   Make note of any relevant evidence or quotes that come to mind.

o   Use a mind map to help stimulate lateral thinking.

4.   Construct a thesis (idea/argument) that encapsulates the response to the question

o   The thesis should be a statement that strongly expresses the overall response to the question.

o   Avoid a thesis that's too simplistic – show thought has been put into some of the complexities behind the question.

o   The thesis is the backbone of the essay – it will be stated in the introduction. It also needs to be referred to several times in the essay before restating it and demonstrating how it has been proven in the conclusion.

5.   Write a plan for the response

o   Order ideas in a logical sequence.

o   Make sure every point in the plan is relevant to the question.

o   After the plan has been written it should be clear where the essay is going. 

6.   Write the introduction

o   Open up the discussion.

o   Introduce the thesis.

o   Indicate how the questions will be answered.

o   Name any texts to be discussed, if appropriate.

o   Engage the reader.

7.   Write the main body of the essay

o   Ensure each point is given a new paragraph.

o   Use words or phrases at the start of each paragraph that will indicate to the reader how it relates to the previous paragraph, eg, 'however', ‘in addition', ‘nevertheless', ‘moreover'.

o   Start each paragraph with a topic sentence that clearly links the paragraph to the rest of the essay, eg "A striking example of Gary Crew's use of light and darkness imagery to suggest notions of knowledge and ignorance occurs in the scene on the jetty".

o   Provide supporting evidence for each point that you make.

o   Revisit the thesis, and express it in different ways if possible, to emphasise how the question is being addressed. 

8.   Write your essay conclusion

o   Summarise the main ideas.

o   Demonstrate how you have proven your thesis.

o   Finish with an interesting or thought-provoking, but relevant, comment.

9.   Edit the draft

o   Check for spelling, punctuation and grammar.

o   Delete any sections that are not particularly relevant.

o   Change vocabulary to improve expression.

o   Seek feedback from peers or a teacher before writing the final copy.

10.                  Write the final copy

o   Add any footnotes or bibliography if required.

o   Present a clean, neat copy.

o   Submit on time.

Is homework a waste of time?

President Hollande of France raised eyebrows around the world as he outlined his thoughts on banning homework from French schools.

Francois Hollande doesn’t think it is fair that some kids get homework help from their parents while children who come from disadvantaged families don’t.

Before we label Mr. Hollande as a crazy nut bag, Australia has also queried the relevance of homework in primary schools and has evidence to support their findings that  primary school homework offers no real benefit - and only limited results in junior high school.

There was genuine purpose seen in years 11 and 12 but not much else.


Whilst I am not collecting children's pocket money to raise this topic.  I do at times see it as menial work, and have found homework tasks such as a Passion Project to be far more beneficial to younger and middle years students as it allows them to drive their learning intentions outside the classroom.

In saying that i have also seen it used to great effect.

So...  I would like to pose the question

Is homework a waste of time?  And at what point does it become effective?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

Free Basic Fraction Wall Poster

This Fraction Wall maths teaching resource is a great way to help students develop an understanding of the relationship between fractions. 

This is a Basic Fraction Wall and very shortly I will be posting some more complex versions with percentages and decimals included on them.  Please feel free to download, print them and decorate your classroom.

Download it here.

* Please note all of our posters are originally designed using high resolution images and fonts at A3 paper size.  Be aware it will be automatically resized to your default paper size when using Adobe Acrobat Reader without any loss of quality.  If you would like to print these documents at larger sizes you can read the Adobe Resize & Scaling FAQ here.

Finally if you would like to purchase a completely editable version of this document to alter without any restrictions you can purchase it for $10.00 simply by emailing us.

Everyday Maths for Grown-Ups

I very rarely promote books or products on Edgalaxy but I can personally and highly recommend this one by Kjartan Poskitt, after a parent in my grade gave me a copy to borrow.  As a result our school bought 10 to on sell in the office as it was just so practical.

Everyday Maths for Grown-ups is an excellent resource for teachers to give to parents to teach them how maths is taught in modern classrooms. And I recommend every school buying 10 or so copies to have in their office for parents to borrow or purchase.

Here is the speil from the publishers - but I can personallly say as a teacher it is a must have for confused parents.

Day-to-day life is full of scenarios where your skill with numbers is tested, whether it's dividing up your share of the restaurant bill, or working out whether you've been overcharged at the checkout. So many of us try to avoid these basic sums at all costs, waiting for someone else to step in with the answer; but "Everyday Maths for Grown-Ups" is the perfect solution! It includes chapters on: How to Check a Till Receipt Quickly; Long division; Multiplying and Dividing by 10, 100 or 1,000; Money and Percentages; Converting metres, Litres and Grams; and, Angles, Triangles and Trig. This book contains all the shortcuts, fun tricks and new approaches you need to tackle even complex calculations with confidence.

You can get it below via Amazon.  If you have any great recommendations we'd love to hear of them.

 

5 Apps Your Students Are Using When You’re Not Looking

This is a great excerpt by Susan Davis @ gettingsmart.com about apps that students are using to learn.

So, Dick (now he prefers to be called Rich) and Jane are upstairs in their bedrooms, supposedly doing their homework. But you suspect they are doing what they usually do, chatting in Facebook, browsing friends’ Tumblr posts, or looking for funny cat videos on Youtube. Think again.

Students these days are discovering their own applications and tools to enhance their learning online. I’ve learned about some of these tools from my students themselves, as well as through the teenager grapevine. Not only do these applications reveal to us that students are discovering ways to use social media and web tools for more than entertainment, but they tell us something about our kids’ needs in an online environment.

App #1: Anti-Social

A senior at my husband’s school recommends this tool for anyone who has serious work to do and needs to avoid getting sucked into conversations on social media. Basically, for $15 (a free trial is available), you can set a timer and Anti-Social locks you out of Twitter, Facebook, and other distractions you may select. The only way you can get back into these sites is to reboot your computer, and by then you have time to talk yourself out of checking your Google+, and back into doing your U.S. History homework. A similar site for both Mac and PC users is Freedom ($10).

Click here for the entire article

Everyday Etiquette for Parents and Teachers

1. When you drop off your child at his classroom, give him a hug and a kiss, tell him you will see him after school and leave! A crying child will stop crying about 14 seconds after mom leaves the room. It is difficult for a teacher to take control with mom attached to her shoulder. Multiply that by 20 moms and you've got the picture. That also includes having a powwow with other moms outside the classroom door.

  • Teacher's response: "All right, Mom and Dad, class is about to begin. Please help your child by getting on with your day. Good-bye."

2. Drop off time is not the time for an impromptu conference. If there is a question or concern, schedule a time when you can visit the teacher or call and request a meeting.

  • Teacher's advice: Don't feel compelled to engage in a mini conference every time you see the teacher. Simply say, "Good morning."

3. Don't arrive at the classroom early and expect to drop off your child. This is the time that teachers use to prepare and deal with last minute details for the upcoming day.

Read the entire article here.

201 Literacy and maths tips for parents to help their kids

This is an excellent resource from the Victorian Department of Education and contains activities and ideas for children of all ages.  It is very simple to follow and help parents better understand thier child's learning process in school.

I would highly recommend it for parents that are keen to get more involved with their child's

You can download the entire eBook free here.

Great Art & Craft ideas for Teachers and Students

Scribbled.com.au is a highly creative site for those who want to learn about innovative art and craft ideas.   

Scribbled is packed with activities to suit all abilities but best of all everything is laid in in step-by-step directions with photographs to support them.  There are a number of themed ideas for all major events of the year with new crafts and activities being added each week.

Teachers will also love the video tutorials and printables to jazz up their classrooms.  There are also  activities and games particularly aimed at younger children.

Take a look at scribbled today and release some of your creative energy.