Friday, June 17, 2011

Structure of Writing: Intros and Endings

Question: What are some basic methods for teaching the structure of an essay?

Answer: Use models. Quote: “We believe that the department should be directive and concrete in terms of teaching structure. We should provide examples … [from students and the teacher] of what we mean by an engaging introduction, a strong thesis, clear topic sentences that link to that thesis, effective transitions and a strong conclusion.” P. 373.

Quote: “Our department should provide students with models of great introductions (and great conclusions) to offset the mechanical five-paragraph model introduction and conclusion. We would like to see students move away from the mechanical, basic introduction toward more ‘creative,’ engaging, reader-friendly introductions. To help promote this process, our committee developed a new rubric for assessing introductions.” P. 373.

Comment: Models themselves might not complete the task of demonstrating the structure to students. Modeling, however, will also help. I asked students to try their first thesis. I then guided each student on the board through completing an effective thesis. After twenty-five examples of modeling the thesis begun by students, they were very close to understanding how to construct an effective thesis. RayS.

Title: “An Outcomes Assessment Project: Basic Writing and Essay Structure.” David Caldwell, et al. Teaching English in the Two-Year College (May 2011), 363-376.

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