Launching Personal Essay
It’s nearly November, which means it’s time for me to start teaching my students how to craft personal essays. I use Calkins and Gilette’s book for my teaching points, but deviate from their text when it comes to teaching the actual lessons since I’ve tweaked every lesson each year that I’ve taught it.
I recall dreading personal essay when I was about to teach it for the first time in 2004. What could be so exciting about a five paragraph essay, I wondered. If you’ve read this blog for the past year or so, you already know that something magical happens to students’ writing during this unit of study. It becomes much more reflective and thoughtful. Hence, I’ve grown to LOVE teaching this unit.
Tomorrow, I’m going to immerse my students in this genre by sharing five of my former students’ personal essay. They’re going to fill out this form (whose lines & page breaks got slightly distorted when I converted it with Scribd) as they read each one.
Outlining Essays (Grades 3-6)
Brainstorm before you start writing.
Teach students to brainstorm story ideas in preparation of writing an expressive essay.
Students will brainstorm story ideas in preparation of writing an expressive essay.
- Pen or pencil
- Dry erase board (optional)
- Dry erase markers (optional)
- Outlining Essays (Grades 3-6) Student Reproducible
1. Review the definition of personal expressive writing (writing that allows you to express your own thoughts and feelings through a letter, journal, essay, etc.) with students. Tell students that they will be preparing to write their own expressive essay on the topic: Why does your teacher deserve a classroom makeover?
Lead a discussion about the elements that make up an expressive essay. Use the following example to illustrate these elements:
Introduction: Begin your essay by stating the main idea. In an expressive essay, the main idea will be a personal experience, belief, or feeling that is meaningful to you. One way to hook your reader is to express your main idea with a short personal account of an important event in your life.
Body: The body of your essay supports your main idea by using examples. Be sure to describe your examples clearly so that your reader will understand your position, or point of view.
Conclusion: The conclusion of your essay should summarize your main idea. Restate your feelings and beliefs to make sure your main idea is understood.
2. Distribute copies of Outlining Essays (Grades 3-6) Student Reproducible (PDF). Have students complete their outlines in preparation for writing an essay in Lesson 2.
Bonus Challenge: Have students make a graphic organizer to plan their essay. They may begin by writing their main idea in a circle. They may add additional circles or "webs" to describe their supporting details and conclusion.
Marker Tips: Illustrate outlines on the dry erase board. Have students take turns using different colored dry erase markers to fill in the title, main idea, opening sentence, details 1-3, and summary sentence.
Photos, top to bottom: © Image 100/Getty Images; © Photodisc/Getty Images.