Writing Better Essays
One useful strategy for getting started is to permit students draft in first person and then revise to third person. When they realize that they are invited to present their own ideas, reflections, observations, the students tend to relax a bit and write more honestly about the text.
Next, encourage students to include an adjective or adverb in their thesis statement and then select quotations or make direct references to the text that explains, clarifies or support that adjective, the writers tend to be more careful about selecting what justifies their choice of modifier(s). Next comes revision.
As your students practice using the variety of strategies you teach them about revising their literary analyses, adding this link to sentence starters may be helpful. One of my colleagues uses the term “seamlessly” when reminding students to use transitions not only to introduce key ideas, but also to bridge the gap between sentences and paragraphs, and to show the relationships among and between ideas presented.
They’ve done the research, they organized their paragraphs, but now it’s time to smooth out the kinks so the ideas flow smoothly as they make their point, prove their point, and/or substantiate their claim. These sentence starters may help students achieve that goal as your students begin their revising.
Then to give them a graphic depiction of what a complete essay could look like, show them the slides with the train as a metaphor
and the caboose is the closing paragraph.
See link to PIE and TRAIN Structure for slides to illustrate this strategy.