Be creative. The intro will make or break your essay. The key is to attract the teacher's attention away from the TV or computers screen and fully onto your essay. In the intro, be creative. Use an analogy, tell a personal experience story, whatever you do, start out with a something different!
- If you talk about something briefly at the very beginning of your intro, refer back to it quickly in your conclusion. It'll remind your teacher you know how to write an essay and you know what you're doing.
Utilize sentence structures to your advantage. Start off sentences with the same start to add more emotion. Example: "Sometimes the world gets too out of hand. Sometimes the world just needs a better hero. Sometimes, I can be that hero."
When in doubt, use movie quotes, songs, famous people (i.e. US presidents, class presidents, etc.), or well-known sayings. Either you can outright quote them, such as "If we don't come together right now, on this hallowed ground, we too will be destroyed" (Remember the Titans). Or you can change it up slightly to show off your creativity, such as "The grass actually ISN'T greener on the other side."
Use at least somewhat decent vocabulary. By using too many simple words, the teacher may not notice it at first, but he will notice your lack of strong vocab. Insert a few good words here and there, and if you're slightly in doubt on what a complicated word means, just don't use it. Misusing a word can rip your essay into pieces in the teacher's mind.
If you're too lazy to look up words in the thesaurus, right click it on Microsoft if you're typing your essay.
The movement with the Common Core State Standards is to reference text in writing. This isn’t completely new, but is something that usually isn’t taught until middle and high school. Last year I began using anchor text, or text that guides student writing, to teach my 4th-6th grade students how to cite text correctly.Here are some common questions I’ve had from students and teachers about this process:
What is anchor text?
Anchor text is a piece of text that matches the topic or writing prompt. It’s used for the purpose of supporting the student’s opinions and/or ideas during opinion, argumentative, and explanatory writing.
Where can I find anchor text?
Everywhere! NewsELA and Time for Kids are my favorite for opinion and argumentative writing. For explanatory writing I often use pictures books about the topic that I check out from the library.
My blog post about using NewsELA for writing opinion paragraphs.
How much of the text should students use?
Students should choose 2-3 quotes from the text to support their own ideas. Often when you give students a text about the same topic they’re supposed to write about, they copy as much of it as they can. They just don’t know any better in elementary school, which is why these lessons are so important. Before students even read the anchor text, they should have some of their own ideas for the writing mapped out.
Begin by writing “my ideas” about the topic.
For opinion writing, highlight the
‘pro’ reasons & evidence green and
the ‘con’ red.
What should students quote?
Students should quote the parts of the text that support their own ideas. The strongest quotes are statistics and data. Since we don’t have the means to go out and poll a large group of people, we rarely have our own statistics to use in our writing.
How do students cite their sources?
The Common Core Standards say that in text citation is all they need in elementary. I do have my 6th grade students fully cite their sources when we do our research reports. It’s a good way to practice the formatting to prepare for high school and college!