Writing Wednesday - How I Teach Organization of Essays!



I am very happy to join Lit With Lyns for this great summer link-up!

Last month, I shared how I introduce the essay writing vocabulary with a synergy of traditional two column notes and interactive notebooks called Pixanotes.  

This month, I promised to share how I teach the organization of essays.

As a 6th grade ELA teacher, I have found that my students can generally write complete sentences and paragraphs but have trouble figuring out how to use text to inform their work and organize it into an essay.  And even though I may show them model after model, the concept of organization still seems to evade them.

My solution?  Patterns with outlines/frames.

In my research on patterns, the ASCD said "When students seek patterns in the world around them, they see order instead of chaos, which builds confidence in their understanding of how the world works and gives them a feeling of control."

This makes perfect sense to me.  As teachers, we use patterns to create lesson plans as we use the same template over and over.  Sure, we add things to the template as the needs arise, but the same basic structure remains.  This same principle can be directly applied to students learning to write essays.

Essay Outlines ~Think about it like this:  How could one decorate the walls of a new house if the walls haven't been built yet?  They can't!  The organization of essays are those walls.  Once those walls are up, then word choice, voice and more can paint them and add other embellishments like mirrors or artwork.

I am all about taking thorny concepts and breaking them down into practical and fun activities.  These outlines work to do just that.  The idea is that on the left, the concept of what needs to be written is presented in words with a picture to help the student create a memory cue.   The right is where the student writes his/her own sentence according to the concept presented on the left.

Now I know some will say that this creates very basic writing and that is true because this is just a foundation.  Think about it like this:  How could one decorate the walls of a new house if the walls haven't been built yet?  They can't!  The organization of essays are those walls.  Once those walls are up, then word choice, voice and more can paint them and add other embellishments like mirrors or artwork.


To build on the concepts presented in these outlines, I have also created some great step-by-step lessons that make teaching what's contained in the outlines easier using original texts, Cornell notes, model paragraphs, interactive notebook foldables, graphic organizers and more.  

To build on the concepts presented in my outlines, I have also created some great step-by-step informative essay lessons that make teaching what's contained in the outlines easier using original texts, Cornell notes, model paragraphs, interactive notebook foldables, graphic organizers and more. To build on the concepts presented in my outlines, I have also created some great step-by-step argumentative essay lessons that make teaching what's contained in the outlines easier using original texts, Cornell notes, model paragraphs, interactive notebook foldables, graphic organizers and more.    

Click on either image above to learn more.  



Thanks for stopping by!


2 comments:

  1. The outlines look great for helping kids organize their thoughts!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Lisa. Writing frames or outlines are the basis for thought organization. You make some really good points about the necessity for this structure. Love the freebie!!

    ReplyDelete

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