3 Essay Writing Interventions


3 Ways To Help Your Struggling Middle School Essay Writers!

This year, more than ever, I can see that our middle school students lack some basic essay writing skills.  

When it came time to determine what they know about essay writing, it was clear that they had had a firm foundation at one point, but had lost many of the bits and pieces along the way before arriving in middle school. 

They absolutely struggled with being able to organize an essay and could not seem to remember how to approach the whole essay writing process.  It was clear to me that we needed some interventions.

1.  Simply the framework.

I found that many of our students simply forgot what the structure of an essay is all about.  They need a clear-cut plan for writing.  Now, what I am about to suggest may seem a bit formulaic and as teachers, we like to give our students options to exercise their creativity. BUT - when students are lost, they aren't worried about creativity - they're worried about understanding what to do.  

I use a special mnemonic to break down what each sentence in the essay should be about.

These notes help middle school students review the structure of an essay quickly and easily!

The mnemonic lays out the pattern of writing an informative essay in clear, plain language with a picture to serve as a memory cue.

Once students have mastered this basic structure, then I will surely add in things like word choice and voice.  But for now, this intervention is all about getting that structure down-pat.

2.  Use Essay Frames

Now that they have notes to follow, I decided to use a frame.  To me, an essay frame is a fill-in-the-blank essay.  Like this one is from the book Tangerine:

Essay Frames are a great intervention to use with struggling learners in middle school!

As you can see, I put all the structure in the frame and the students have to follow along with that structure (using their notes) to fill in the blanks with their evidence and elaboration.  It's a great way to put some training wheels on the essay!

3.  Provide different kinds of practice that are not writing full essays.

So maybe this one seems obvious.  Students need practice but writing a full essay is absolutely not going to work.  So what to do?  

Well for introduction practice, I made these "micro" texts and asked students to write an introduction based on them.  You can either do one per day as part of a bell work routine or you could have students complete them in groups and then share their work.

Working on just one part of the essay is a great way to help struggling middle school  learners!

Click here for more information about the Informative Introduction Practice.

I also made a body paragraph practice where students read one text and then are given an introduction paragraph.  Then their job is to use the given materials to write 3 body paragraphs.  

The materials walk them through the process of getting to the body paragraph step-by-step.

Body Paragraph Practice for Middle School Students Provides a Great Intervention Without the Headache!

Breaking things down into smaller parts is always a good idea for struggling learners.

Click here for more information about the Informative Essay Body Paragraph Practice by clicking here!

These are just a few of the informative essay writing interventions you could try with your students.  Hopefully, I have given you some ideas that you can try!

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3 Things you can do when your Middle School students don't get it.