- Why I’m creating a Teen Essay Writing Guide for my two high schoolers.
- It’s based on the assumption you own and finished Brave Writer’s Help for High School curriculum. Lots of its pages are referenced throughout my guide. If you haven’t used H4HS, it won’t make sense.
- This was my answer to what to do after Help for High School.
- Post #1: Topic Selection
- Post #2: Brainstorming
- Post #3: Freewriting
- Post #4: Working Thesis & Outline
- Post #5: Research
- Post #6: Refined Thesis Statement
Flex those fingers, you guys, it’s time to start writing.
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.