Brave Writer Teen Essay Guide Writing

Summer KISS Essay Series #7: Drafting


Flex those fingers, you guys, it’s time to start writing.

Getting started…

If your teen are unsure how to get started writing the essay, I’ve referenced the H4HS pages that walk them through the process. 

If they have that blank page syndrome where they shut down, encourage them to do a freewrite. Lower the stakes. We’re just putting thoughts on paper, nothing permanent here. Sometimes people need a few minutes of rambling on paper before getting to the meat of what they want to say. It’s like warm up exercises before you start the real muscle work. 

Additional resources I pull in

In my notes I link two free TpT handouts on writing intros and conclusions. Those always feel the hardest to write for us and these graphic organizers helped get us unstuck, especially my beginner essay writer. The author also has two YouTube videos which walk you (the teacher) through the process she uses for intros and conclusions.

We use this mini reference guide from TpT. It helps my teens remember how to insert their research and their own commentary. It’s been worth the eight dollars, and I find it handy for the revision stage too. Depending on the essay and where my teens are in the writing process (energized? tapped out? newbie?), I sometimes wait to use these guides during the revision process instead of drafting. I keep this mini guide in a zipper pencil pouch in their student binder so it doesn’t get lost.

MENSA for kids also has a useful tip for writing conclusions in their Writer’s Toolbox download.

How long does this take?

We usually spend an entire school week on the first draft, one paragraph a day. That pace works well for my teens so far. They can keep sharp focus on the task without burning out or getting frustrated, which only leads to them phoning it in on the draft. Quality over quantity. Small, manageable tasks has been key to helping my teens through this process.

Pacing also depends on the type of essay (opinion essays are easier than argumentative) and how experienced my teen is with essays. Touch base with them as they write, watch for signs of frustration or fatigue with the task. Brownies or a frappuccino can be sources of encouragement.

There are no additional teacher notes for this section, just the teen guide. I’ll more than make up for the teacher notes in the revision section, I promise.




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  • Slowly turning over the revision process to my high schoolers. I found a color-coded highlighter analysis of their body paragraphs helped them see the holes in their paper before I point it out. Training wheels, baby!
I explain my three highlighter revision process on my blog. Look under the essay guide series, then the revision post. Blog link in my profile.
  • Mystery Line Monday! I’m cutting it close today, posting late. But! Instead of getting a puppy in late October, I found out today we’re getting one this Saturday. Yay! And eek! Must finish preparing, fast!
So, the quote. It’s a bit dark and I would normally save it for our spooky theme in October. But I’m a bit distracted and busy, and I do live the way this phrase feels on the tongue. Hello, alliteration! You are one of my favorites! Plus we’re reading Hamlet right now, so reinforcing the lines.
  • Who is this person buying puppy supplies? It’s me. Same person who used to say she’d be fine living her entire life without owning a dog. 🤷🏻‍♀️
  • Snip & Pin editing still works wonders with teens! My 16 year old is writing a compare/contrast essay on Ponyo and The Little Mermaid movies. Arranging through snip & pin helped him come up with paragraph topics and if he should group his ideas in a point-by-point paragraph or block format.
Now we’re ready to rewatch the movies for more “evidence” and then expand his commentary. But first I need to restock movie treats. 🍿🍫🍬
  • Mystery Line Monday! I picked this one simply for cultural reference. #mysterylinemonday
  • Finally making my fall bingo card from the Homeschool Alliance intuitive planning session. It comes with a bingo card download, but I’m a washi tape nerd and feel somewhat guilty about ALL the washi tape I own. I now feel justified owning a 3 year supply of fall leaf tape. ☺️
Of course, I refuse to do pumpkin anything before official fall, if not October 1st. Yes, I’m anal like that. 🤷🏻‍♀️ I can’t get in the mood when it’s still 95 degrees and I’m sweating in shorts. Can’t rush Mother Nature! But I did go ahead and plan it last week while I was laid up in bed.
I appreciate the inspiration from the #homeschoolalliance. Such an easy way to have a touchpoint for the #bravewriterlifestyle! For September, we’re digging deeper into connecting and collaborating with our kids, expanding on a talk @juliebravewriter gave at the #bravelearner conference. Can’t wait to dig into the nuances, rewards, and challenges of collaboration!
#bravewriterteens #secularhomeschool #homeschoolhighschool
  • Mystery Line Monday! This one is such a giveaway. But I don’t care! It’s my favorite quote for birthdays, and today is my son’s 19th birthday! #mysterylinemonday
  • Wally and I got our alumni magazine in today. The same day Payton said he wanted to go to Auburn. The same teenager who two days ago still said he didn’t want to go to college. It took seeing just one fisheries research lab to help him cast a new vision for his life. War damn eagle!

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