Essay Writing Essentials: Build Skills for High School


In this 6-week self-paced class, students learn to independently generate, organize, and express elaborated ideas in an effective expository essay. Students receive explicit instruction, teacher modeling, and guidance toward mastery of skills.




Many students know how to write an organized five-paragraph essay, but they struggle to generate ideas that fully support their thesis. They aren’t quite sure how to develop body paragraphs that are clear, fully elaborated, and effective. Writing an introduction and conclusion that are more than just a couple of sentences seems impossible. While students will certainly learn how to organize an essay, the skills taught in this class will equip learners to embrace any writing task with gusto and skill. Students gain confidence as writers when they are explicitly taught how to do something, followed by guidance and feedback on their independent practice. Students must understand and master these foundational writing skills for future success in high school, college, and work. Mrs. Lemons works with students asynchronously (no live classes) so that they improve their writing, both for function and style.

Class Type:

This course is a self-paced interactive essay writing course. There are no live meetings, but students interact with Mrs. Lemons each week through the classroom. They watch video lessons by Mrs. Lemons and respond by submitting homework and assignments, which are graded. Learners also engage with interactively designed course pathways, guiding them along toward mastery of essay writing!

Workload & Assessment:

Students will have roughly two hours of work per week and receive authentic and constructive feedback from the instructor that helps them correct their mistakes and fine-tune their writing skills. Held to a high standard of academic writing, students receive grades as they master writing competencies and standards. Learners, along with their parents, need to know how they’re doing!

Course Syllabus:

Week 1–Students learn to differentiate between various genres of writing. They will annotate example essays to see how they are structured and organized. Direct instruction includes aspects of expository, narrative, and opinion writing as well as the organization of an expository piece.

Week 2 and 3–Students learn how body paragraphs are structured, with topic sentences, concluding sentences, and organized ideas. Direct instruction includes how to generate ideas using brainstorming, sorting, two rules of thumb, and four elaboration techniques. Writing is thinking, and the skill of organizing thoughts is important. Students also learn how to generate research questions and then find answers, a process that improves their essay’s ideas and interest level. Students practice these techniques then they write their own body paragraphs independently, all while receiving helpful feedback from the instructor.

Week 4–Students learn how to use Google Documents to write their essays. They learn to create a header, heading, and how to follow the formatting rules in the MLA style guide. They use this week to write the body paragraphs of their essays.

Week 5–Students learn the most difficult components of the essay: the introduction and conclusion They learn six different techniques for hooking their readers, how to write an effective thesis statement, and how to bridge the gap between the lead and thesis statement. Students practice writing introductions, and they write their own introductions independently with helpful feedback from the instructor. Students learn how to write a concluding paragraph that leaves their reader thinking by using four different techniques. Writers practice these techniques, and they write their own conclusions independently.

Week 6–Students will learn how to write a Works Cited page. This extra week gives students time to revise and edit their essays after receiving feedback from Mrs. Lemons.

The Lemons-Aid Way: Our Approach to Teaching & Learning is Explicit!

Explicit teaching is a method of instruction students desperately need! It is the opposite of a constructivist philosophy whereby students ponder and explore to construct meaning themselves. Well…

Instead of leaving students to magically figure out how to write an essay, we teach explicitly, which is backed by a large body of evidence, and it’s how Mrs. Lemons teaches her undergraduate and graduate teacher-candidates in college to teach! We do it this way because it’s how kids learn.

Explicit instruction is “a structured, systematic, and effective methodology for teaching academic skills. It is called explicit because it is an unambiguous and direct approach to teaching that includes both instructional design and delivery procedures. Explicit instruction is characterized by a series of supports or scaffolds, whereby students are guided through the learning process with clear statements about the purpose and rationale for learning the new skill, clear explanations and demonstrations of the instructional target, and supported practice with feedback until independent mastery has been achieved.”
-Explicit Instruction: Effective and Efficient Teaching by Anita L. Archer and Charles A. Hughes.

Anita Archer trained Mrs. Lemons in workshops, and it changed her teaching. Read a little more about the research behind explicit teaching here and here.

Get to know Mrs. Lemons a little more.

Additional information

Subject Area:


Work Load:

1-2 hours each week

Assessment Method:

GRADES: traditional grades are given based on mastery of competencies.

Materials Required:

Students need access to Google Docs and a computer.