It’s More Than Just a 5-Paragraph Essay!
Many students know how to organize a 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. Some find it impossible or very difficult to write an introduction and conclusion that are more than just a couple of sentences. While students will certainly learn how to organize an essay, we teach skills that equip learners to embrace any writing task with confidence and skill, which happens 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 skills for success in middle school, high school, college, and work. ?
High Expectations in a Supportive Community:
In this class, the instructor works to build respectful relationships with each student and to build an online community. We begin with prayer and establish a supportive and encouraging Christian environment. This class has a high level of student interaction–students will answer questions and use the chatbox regularly. If we don’t hear from a student, we do ask them if everything is okay. We push students to improve their writing, both for function and style. Further, we pull up their essays as they write and give feedback on the spot. Since our goal is to keep their minds engaged, to keep them writing, and to learn new skills, we have a camera-on policy. Contact us ahead of time if you have a special circumstance. Quieter students will do fine because they engage with their teacher in the chatbox. We want to honor the investment parents make in this class and the time students spend. The goal is to build skills and learn! That means students are working, thinking, and writing.
The Way We Roll:
Student Motivation & Accountability–Learners participate in interactive lessons during their homework time, which includes competitive quizzes. This class does utilize competition, which is highly motivating for many. We use “workshop time” in class so students will write while the teacher “visits” them on their Google Document. Once we started using this method, we saw nearly a 100% completion rate in student essays! They are held accountable even further when they receive authentic feedback on their work along with traditional grades.
Homework–Students can expect to have homework after day one and then once they are halfway through the course. Students receive authentic and constructive feedback from the instructor that helps students correct their mistakes and fine-tune their skills. We integrate grammar in all aspects of instruction, and we hold students to a high standard of academic writing. We achieve this through daily mini-lessons and practice with sentence combining and the use of various sentence starters.
- Day 1-2–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.
- Day 3-7–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.
- Day 7 is a workshop day while I pop in and out of their Google documents. I watch them write.
- Day 8–Students learn the most difficult component of the essay: the introduction. 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.
- Day 9-10–Students learn how to write a concluding paragraph that leaves their reader thinking by using four different techniques. These techniques are practiced and they write their own conclusions independently. The instructor will teach various techniques to make students’ essays stronger with powerful word choices and unique and stylish sentence structures. They will learn how to format an essay to follow the MLA style guide, including a Works Cited page.
**For a self-paced version (no live classes) of this class, click here.
The Lemons-Aid Way: Our Approach to Teaching and 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.
Get to know the course author, Mrs. Lemons, a little more.
We have adopted The Master’s Seminary Doctrinal Statement.