Writing Paragraphs and Essays the STRUCTURED Way

I have said this before, but writing is not my strongest area as a teacher.  It just always seems to get the shaft when things need to go from my schedule.   It is always such a struggle of a topic for me to teach.  No wonder though...it is just hard.  Trying to convey your thoughts about any given topic in a coherent, organized manner takes even seasoned authors draft after draft after draft to do.  So it is no wonder that our students (and teacher bloggers ;) ) struggle with it.  (I have written this introduction myself about 5 times trying to get it just right!)

So last year, I decided to try and make writing a bit easier for my students (and help them actually get some writing time in daily) with Paragraph of the Week.  And what do you know??  It worked!  The kids' writing became so much clearer and organized, and they actually started to think of writing as an EASY task!

But, as you all know, I teach 5th grade.  Writing one, single paragraph, no matter how good it is, is just not enough.  The standards (Common Core or otherwise) call for MULTIPLE paragraph essays, so I was stuck in the same situation as before.

I had always done the "I Do, You Do" method of essay writing.  I would guide the students through the entire writing process, modeling every step of the way.  It would produce nice essays.  The problem:  cold, prompt writing.  They just couldn't do it without me.   This really is unacceptable.  It is not good enough if they can produce writing WITH me if they can't do it WITHOUT me.  I haven't done my job as a teacher.

So I have wracked my brain, trying to figure out a way to teach my kids how to write a good, organized, coherent essay...the same way they do with one paragraph.  How could I make Paragraph of the Week extend to multiple paragraphs, no matter the genre?  After months and months of thought, I found it.  Essay of the Month.

It is based on the same principles as POTW.  Students write a little bit each day, using graphic organizers to help them along the way.  They start with the body, and then move on to the introduction and concluding paragaphs.  All the while, they keep the prompt in mind.  Students use checklists and rubrics to help them revise and edit until they ultimately end up with a published final draft.  

We just finished our first full essay (which was a narrative, in case you were wondering) and they came out GREAT!  The kids took what they learned in POTW and applied it to their EOTM.  During our daily review of the essay, the kids were discussing their writing, revising, and making it better.  I am so so so happy with how it is all working out!  We are now on to informational writing and everything we have done is falling into place!

I think by focusing on the STRUCTURE of writing (as all genres basically are the same as far as structure goes...it is the craft of it all that changes them) I am better able to help my students create good, basic essays.  Now that  they have the structure down, craft has become a focus where we can work on things like voice and style.
Can you see the organizers they use to make the body paragraphs? 
I am SO excited about this!  EOTM has already, in this short time, helped my students to become more competent authors who aren't scared to tackle writing anymore. They are so good with Paragraph of the Week, and this Essay of the Month is taking them to that next level.  YAY!!!

To help you get your hands on both of these programs, so that your students can become successful writers as well, I have bundled them together at a discounted price in my TpT store!  It is $5 off the price of buying both of them (and the licenses, if you want to buy more than one copy for your site to use, is even cheaper!)

How do you help your students transition from single paragraph writing to multiple paragraph essays?

7 comments

  1. I have said it before and I will say it again (and probably again after that) Paragraph of the Week is probably one of my favorite writing tools and is definitely one of my all time favorite TPT purchases (and I make a lot :) ). My students are happy when the say P.O.W. on the agenda and know that we are doing paragraph of the week. I have EOTM but have not used it yet - working my way up to it : ) My co-worker has it too and used it for speeches and said it was amazing! Thanks for racking your brain and then sharing your awesome idea with me ( and everyone else I guess).

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  2. I found myself nodding as I read through your post - teaching writing is definitely tough! I have been looking for a way to transition my fifth graders from writing one paragraph to a longer essay. This looks like it might be just the trick - I'm off to check out the products in your TPT store. Thanks for bundling them :)

    ~Jessica
    Joy in the Journey

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  3. I have definitely struggled with teaching writing this year, so this product just got added to my cart! It looks awesome!

    Sara :)
    The Colorful Apple

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  4. I just bought the bundle and am excited to dig in! I'll be the only one teaching Language Arts for 5th grade next year at my school, so this is greatly welcomed! My only concern is all the copies that will be used, but in all honesty, the resource is so great that I don't think it's a big deal...Right? :)

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  6. I have been looking for a way to transition my fifth graders from writing one paragraph to a longer essay.
    Online nursing courses

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  7. The clear structure of an essay is very important. I think it makes the whole paper more clear and easy for understanding. I'm using this writing service http://writing2me.com/ for my essays and they're always well structured.

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