Tips for Teachers: How to Explain Essay Writing to Your Students

As an educator, you have a responsibility to motivate your students to acquire skills that are necessary for their progress. In college, they will have to write a great number of challenging papers, assignments, reports, and other types of academic content. You have a mission to teach them how to express their thoughts clearly in the form of an essay.

How to Explain Essay Writing to Your Students

Unfortunately, that’s not an easy goal to achieve. Teachers need to implement a strategy that will bring the principles of essay writing closer to the student’s understanding. When explaining the process of academic writing, you need teach your students how to cover each step.

Basic Principles of Academic Writing

Defining a topic

Some teachers like to assign topics, but it’s recommended to allow your students to express their creativity right from the start.

In order to think of a clear topic that will enable them to write an elaborate discussion, your students will first need to conduct a research. Allow your students to use online sources, but instruct them to rely on facts, not opinions. Explain the methods your students can use to find reliable resources. Offer practical research tactics and show how they can use the information wisely in their own content.

Learning from examples

It is impossible to teach your students how to write papers through theory. You need to show them how a brilliant essay looks like. Do you have your own piece of academic writing you’re particularly proud of? Use it as an example! You can also show an essay written by one of your former students who understood what academic writing was all about.

Writing with a purpose

Explain to your students that an essay is not about writing repetitive sentences with general information. Once the student chooses a topic, he should define the purpose of the discussion and lead all sentences towards a clear point.

Constructing an outline

One of the most important parts of the academic writing process is the outline. You should give a practical lesson of creating an outline. Make a list of points you would elaborate on that topic, and show what arguments you would use. That will help your students understand that it’s easier to write the paper if they first prepare its basic construction.

The writing process

This is the most challenging part of your job. Your students should understand what the introduction, body, and conclusion of the essay are supposed to contain. Creativity is very important, so make sure you allow some space for them to express that side. Listen to their suggestions and discuss different opinions.

Useful Resources for Essay Writing

In order to make the entire process of writing easier for your students, you should suggest some tools that will help them stay focused and get the inspiration they need. Here is a selection of tools that have been proven to work well for students:

Essay Map by ReadWriteThink is a free tool that enables your students to create an outline within minutes. Instead of writing a confusing outline in their notebooks, they will be able to add more appeal to this stage through the structured map available at the website.

NinjaEssays is an online paper writing service that enables you to order any type of academic content or get your own papers edited. If you cannot find an example of a perfect essay on the given topic, the professional writers at this website can complete it for you. That’s the best way to show a great piece of content that will motivate your students to write better.

Strict Workflow is a Chrome extension that forces your students to get back to writing by disabling them to access YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other distracting websites when they need to focus on writing.

501 Writing Prompts is an eBook that offers great writing prompts for persuasive, expository, narrative, and literary response essays. When your students are stuck with their papers, they can get the inspiration they need from these creative prompts.

The Writing Center of UNC College of Arts & Sciences is a useful resource not only for your students, but for you as well. The free online resources offer free advice on how to write different types of academic content.

Educational App Store ShowMe Review

Upon opening the app the user is taken through a set of guided instructions that help you understand the application and its interface. Although it is an option we recommend that you create an account to truly appreciate the capabilities of this app.

A simple press of the record button and you are creating your first ShowMe presentation. The tools here are adequate with the ability to use text, colour, add images and an eraser. This can be somewhat limited and sometimes the presentations created are only as good as the presenter or artist, more tools are available through the premium service.  The app could benefit from a clip art tool here. The presentation can be enhanced by using the voice over feature to explain your thoughts as you present and draw. Once the ShowMe presentation has been created you can save this as a draft, for further editing, or a finished presentation. We found the app slightly frustrating that once saved it then asks you to add to a topic for others to access and posts the presentation, you can only save this privately if you sign up for the premium service. However, what we need to stress is the potential of this app has to engage teaching and learning. As a teacher if you are planning a lesson keep in mind its versatility and potential for homework tasks and flipped-class applications. A maths problem solved by a teacher can be played back by the student time and time again in class and at home. This has great potential for parents to learn the topic as well.

The developers can be congratulated on the potential that ShowMe has to offer for both teaching and learning. The online ShowMe community has embraced this application and teachers from all over the globe are sharing presentations. This is a fantastic app that comes highly recommended by the Educational App Store.

EAS Certification

 

 

References

http://www.educationalappstore.com/app/showme-interactive-whiteboard

A QR Code Grammar Activity for the ESL Classroom

Book drills can make class time boring and monotonous, especially when practicing grammar concepts. Creating fresh and engaging activities for English Learners helps students find meaningful connection to the concepts learned in class (Jensen, 2000). Thankfully, as technological advances bring about a myriad of educational web and mobile applications, teachers can incorporate these to enrich common classroom activities and to adapt the usual assignments for better student interaction.

One of these tools, the QR Code, has given me another strategy to implement in my ESL classroom.  Students of various levels have given me positive feedback, which encouraged me to share this idea with other teachers. For more information on using QR codes, check out Karen Mensing’s Ted-Ed video here.

It should be noted that as with all manipulative materials, apps should also be carefully introduced to students as not doing this properly might increase the likelihood of frustration and confusion. Give students some time to get to know their QR Reader app. For best results, have students download a free QR Reader a day before the assignment.

Adverbs of Time Grammar Activity

  1. Take 6-8 events with different times or dates for each. Make a QR code for eachPairs collect clues together until they've gathered all the clues needed. event. Print and cut out the codes (glue on index cards for future use).
  2. Make duplicate codes and mix them up.
  3. Tape the QR codes around the room and pair up students.
  4. Tell students that they are to walk around with their partner to gather clues about an incident that happened.
  5. Once they have gathered all the clues, they will narrate what happened using adverb clauses in a paragraph.
  6. Encourage pairs to collaborate to write a creative paragraph by saying the class will vote on the top 3.

Variations:

  • Assign paragraph for homework and ask pairs to read their paragraphs in small groups.
  • Ask students to type up their paragraphs and submit them the next day. Teacher can make editing assignments based on the paragraphs submitted.
  • Instead of adverb clauses of time, use cause and effect clauses, adjective clauses, or noun clauses.
  • Make QR codes out of the students’ final paragraphs and ask them to edit a paragraph of their choice as a group.

Free Online QR Code Generators:

Some Free Phone App QR Code Readers:
Apple: Red Laser
Google Play Store: Red Laser
Blackberry World: QR Code Scanner Pro Free

References
Jensen, E. (2000). Brain-based learning. Corwin Press.

Mensing, K. (2013, June 20). The Magic of QR Codes [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRgWRXFXLQs

*A version of this article was published in the CATESOL Quarterly News here: http://www.catesolnews.org/2014/03/qr-code-grammar-activity-esl-classroom/

How-to use the new Explore

You may have noticed that ShowMe has changed lately. We’ve completely redesigned the app to making learning easier!

To get started with the new ShowMe Explore here’s a guide:

  1. Browse your recommendations! We’ve provided personalized recommendations for you
  2. Browse by categories! Now, when you tap on a category, all of the subcategories will be revealed. This is a great way to browse featured ShowMes by subject.
  3. Can’t find what you’re looking for? Tap the search box to type what you’re looking for. Your search results can be filtered by topic, people, or ShowMes!

ShowMe and Google Forms

Last week, I wrote on this blog about the advantages of using Google Forms with your ShowMe videos. Well, I must say that Google Forms is a powerful intuitive tool for the classroom. Even if you are not in a 1:1 school (with iPads or computers), Google Forms presents an opportunity to get real time information from students not delayed through exit slips or problem sets. The common question that I think that lingers is how are the students responding if you are not using iPads or computers; the answer is smartphones (and it doesn’t matter the operating system or carrier of the phone.) If you have a class website, links can be set up so that students can respond to questions or you can send students emails with the link of the form so that students can respond at the end of the class period or complete questions for homework while watching their ShowMe or simply completing their reading of various materials.

The reason that I mentioned these applications two weeks in a row, even though most people may already be using Google Forms, is that it is important that teachers receive data (which is an important part of the Common Core) and use it to meet the learning needs of their students. On a recent episode of 60 minutes, Kahn Academy was highlighted for the use of formative data to help teachers create a customized learning experience for each student, but what was at the heart of Kahn Academy was a program that allowed teachers to see precisely where the students were in their learning and the teacher could then direct the classroom based on the needs of students instead of creating a one size fits all curriculum approach. Why wait for Kahn, when the program already exists with Google Forms, especially since cash-strapped districts are not going to purchase expensive software, teachers need to plan what they want their students to know, understand and be able to do with the content of their ShowMe or their classroom and develop a form to help collect the data so that every student learns. Then with the data tailor lessons that meet the needs of every student in the classroom and the best part is the fact that it does not add any more planning time. By creating ShowMe lessons and assessing students knowledge with Google Forms, you are creating a truly enriching experience that benefits every student in the classroom.

New ShowMe Feature: Adding student accounts!

We’ve been working hard this summer to add some new features for the school year. We noticed that many teachers wanted the ability to manage student accounts and that students often do not have access to email. So, we built an easy way for you to create student accounts! Email is not required and teacher’s have total oversight over what kids are up to.

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First, open up ShowMe and tap Activity. Look for the green button that lets you Find more people to follow

 

 

 

Second, in the bottom left corner side of the screen that appears, tap Create a student account

 

 

 

Next, enter your student information. Remember to indicate if they are under age 14! Tap Create Account when you’re ready

 

 

 

You’re done! You’ll receive and email with the login information and password which you can give to your student.

 

 

If you’d like to change the username or password, just login and navigate to the student’s name in the top left corner of the app. Tap it and select Settings to make changes.

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