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Writing an Essay

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by

gian starr

on 1 September 2014

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Transcript of Writing an Essay

Step One: Understand the question and prompt.
What are you being asked to write about?
How will you organize your essay?
What specific information (evidence) will you use to answer this question?
HINT: UNDERLINE THE PROMPT!

Writing a Thesis Statement
A
thesis statement
is a sentence or group of sentences that tells the reader what you will be proving in your essay. The thesis statement also
organizes
your essay by giving the reader an idea of what to expect in the body paragraphs of your essay.

Let's look at the process for writing a thesis statement.
Writing An Introduction
The
introduction
tells the reader what your essay will be about. It must also
hook
the reader with interesting ideas, images, or thought-provoking questions. It should also provide some
background information
, including the title, author, and genre of the book. The last sentence of the introduction should be your
thesis
, where you lay out the point that you are trying to prove and the organization of your essay.
Writing Body Paragraphs: An Overview
Body Paragraphs MUST:
1) Follow the order of the points in your thesis statement
2) Have a topic sentence, TWO quote sandwiches, and a concluding sentence.
3) Include text-based evidence in the form of quotes from the text in each quote sandwich.
4) Connect to the thesis.
Repeating the Body Paragraph Process

For each idea in your thesis, you must have a body paragraph. Let's look at our thesis:
Conclusion
A
conclusion
summarizes the arguments that you have made in your essay. It reminds the reader of the important ideas that you have proven with your text evidence. It also leaves the reader with an interesting or thought-provoking
final thought
.
Revising and Editing
There are two steps to revising and editing:

1. Find areas of weakness in your essay and fix them. Use peer editing and teacher comments to help you with this.

2. Check your rubric to make sure you are doing everything you need to do. A
rubric
is a document (chart, checklist, etc.) that shows you how your essay will be graded.
Editing and Resubmitting
If you are writing this essay for Mr. Starr's class, you ALWAYS have the option to edit and resubmit your essay for additional points. Check the final rubric and Mr. Starr's comments for guidance. Please make arrangements to see Mr.Starr for extra help if you need it. And remember, this Prezi is online and can be accessed from anywhere...
Write On!
Writing an Essay
Five Paragraph Method
The place where you find the question you must answer is called the
prompt
. This tells you what you must prove in your essay. There are two types of prompts:
open-ended
and
bulleted
.

Let's look at some examples:

An
open-ended prompt
is a prompt that gives you no directions about how to answer it. You may include any information that you think is important to answering the prompt. Here are some examples:

Why is Superman so cool?

Should students be forced to wear school uniforms?

How has climate change impacted marine life?

To answer these questions, we must write a
thesis statement
that organizes your essay.
A bulleted prompt is a prompt that asks a question and is followed by bullet points telling you what you must do to answer the question correctly. Here's an example:

Why is Superman so cool? Use evidence from the text to support your answer.
In this essay you must:
explain the character traits that make Superman cool
give examples of how these traits make him cool
use evidence from the text to support your answer
If you have an open-ended prompt, you have more say in what you can include in your essay.

If you have a bulleted prompt, you MUST include all of the items on the bullets in order to receive full credit for your essay.

No matter which type of prompt you have, you will need a
thesis statement
to organize your essay.
STEP TWO: WRITE YOUR THESIS STATEMENT.
If your prompt is open-ended, you will have to come up with the ideas for your thesis statement yourself. These ideas will either come from your own thoughts or from
text-based evidence
from your reading. Please watch the video below about writing a thesis to the open-ended question:
Why is Superman so cool?
If you have a bulleted prompt, you will have to use the bullet points to create your thesis. You have two options:

Option 1: Use each bullet as a separate point in your thesis. This only works if the bullets are asking you to discuss different ideas.

Option 2: Apply more than one bullet to each point of your thesis statement.

Let's look at an example of Option 2....


STEP ONE: DETERMINE THE PURPOSE OF YOUR THESIS STATEMENT.

Your thesis statement has two goals:

Goal 1: To tell the reader what you will be proving in your essay.

Goal 2: To set up the organization of your essay.

Since your thesis sets up the organization of your essay, it tells you what your body paragraphs will be about.
Your body paragraphs should be in the order you list them in your thesis.


Therefore, if your thesis is,
"Superman is cool because
he is strong(1)
,
helps people in danger(2)
,
and he can fly(3)
",
your body paragraphs should be in that order.

Body Paragraph 1 is about how strong Superman is. You should cite concrete examples of his strength.

Body Paragraph 2 is about how Superman helps people in danger. Show your reader specific examples of this.

Body Paragraph 3 is about Superman's ability to fly. How does he use this? How does it make him cool?
Let's say this is your prompt:

Why is Superman so cool? Use evidence from the text to support your answer.
In this essay you must:
explain the character traits that make Superman cool
give examples of how these traits make him cool
use evidence from the text to support your answer
Note: The third bullet in these prompts will always be "use evidence from the text to support your answer. No need to mention it in the thesis!

To write your thesis, combine bullets one and two:
Superman is cool because he is strong, helps people in danger, and he can fly
,
each of which has clear examples.


This type of question also needs a thesis statement.
Answer: Underline important parts of the prompt.

Underline the central question- What is the question you are being asked to answer?
Underline all of the different things you will have to do to get full credit.
Example:
Why is Superman so cool? Use evidence from the text to support your answer.
In this essay you must:
explain the character traits that make Superman cool
give examples of how these traits make him cool
use evidence from the text to support your answer
You ALWAYS have to use evidence from the text, so after some practice, you may not need to underline it!

STEP THREE: LET YOUR THESIS PLAN THE ORGANIZATION OF YOUR ESSAY.
Thesis: Superman is cool because
he is is strong
,
helps people in danger
,
and can fly
,
each of which has clear examples
.
Body Paragraph One:
Superman is strong.
Body Paragraph Two:
Superman helps people in danger.
Body Paragraph Three:
Superman can fly.
Clear
Examples
An introduction has 3 essential, or
must have
parts:

1. A hook

2. Background Information, including title, author, and genre

3. Thesis statement
Background knowledge, including title, author, and genre:
This gives the reader some basic information about the topic of your essay. It can be one or two sentences long, and doesn't go into great detail. We save details for body paragraphs! Let's call this a TAG (short for title, author, genre).

Example One:
In Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster's comic book
Superman
,
we follow the adventures of Clark Kent, an average man with an incredible secret. By day he is a mild-mannered citizen, but when danger calls, he becomes the coolest superhero on Earth: Superman!
Title
Author(s)
genre
Background Knowledge
It acts like a welcome mat, inviting readers into your essay!
Hook:
An interesting idea, image, or thought provoking question.

Example One: An interesting idea
Being a superhero is one of the greatest responsibilities a person could have. After all, you have to save the world every day!

Example Two: An interesting image
Buildings are tumbling around him. Fireballs rain down from the sky. The world is crumbling. And in the middle of it all is Superman.

Example Three: A thought-provoking question
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have to save humanity from disasters every single day? That's what life is like for the superhero.
Thesis Statement: Remember the thesis statement you made before you began writing? The one that tells the author what you're trying to prove in your essay? Make this the last sentence of your introduction, so that the reader knows what the purpose of your essay is and what they can expect in the body paragraphs.
Superman is cool because he is strong, helps people in danger, and he can fly, each of which has clear examples.
Now let's tie it all together using a hook, TAG, and a thesis from our examples:
Buildings are tumbling all around him. Fireballs rain down from the sky. The world is crumbling. And in the middle of it all is Superman. In Jerry Seigel and Joel Shuster's comic book
Superman
, we follow the adventures of Clark Kent, an average man with an incredible secret. By day he is a mild-mannered citizen, but when danger calls, he becomes the coolest superhero on Earth: Superman! Superman is cool because he is strong, helps people in danger, and can fly, each of which has specific examples.
And there you have it, an introduction is born!
Rule 1: Follow the order of your thesis statement.
Remember our thesis statement? Here it is again:
Superman is cool because he is strong, helps people in danger, and can fly, each of which have specific examples.
There are three points in your thesis statement, and each one will get its own body paragraph.

Body Paragraph One: Superman is cool because he is strong.

Body Paragraph Two: Superman is cool because he helps people in danger.

Body Paragraph Three: Superman is cool because he can fly.

Let's think about our first paragraph. What should it be about? Since "he is strong" is the first point listed in our thesis, that should be our first paragraph.
The first thing we need to do is write a topic sentence for this body paragraph. We do this combining the first part of our thesis statement with the first point we are making.
Superman is cool because

he is strong
,
helps people in danger
,
and he can fly
, each of which have clear examples.
Topic sentence 1:
Superman is cool because

he is strong
.
How do I know what to write about?
Rule #2: ...have 2 quote sandwiches
Rule #2: Have a topic sentence....
A quote sandwich is a way of using text-based evidence in a body paragraph. Picture a hamburger (or veggie burger), with a nice, juicy quote from the text in the middle. Before it, we introduce the quote. Afterward, we write an analysis, or detailed explanation of the quote. It looks like this:
introduce the quote
direct quote from the text (evidence)
analysis (detailed explanation)
quote sandwich!
Let's try one!
First things first: What is an essay?
An
essay
is a formal piece of writing that answers an important question.
Formal
means
that it is intended for a serious audience-unlike
a Facebook post or a text. Essays
should have a
structure
, meaning they are
well-organized into paragraphs with
ideas that make sense together.

Let's try making a quote sandwich:
1. Pick a quote: Since our body paragraph is about Superman's
strength, or quote should be a strong quote about how strong he is. Here's one from Matt Styles blog post:
"Among Superman's abilities was his super-strength that outmatched any foe he encountered."
This will be our meat, or evidence.
2. Now we need to introduce the quote. The easiest way to do this is to discuss where it came from and what it is describing.
In Matt Style's blog post, he describes the different traits that make Superman an amazing superhero.
3.Follow the introduction with the quote you have chosen, after an introductory phrase like, The text says.,"
The text says, "Among Superman's abilities was his super-strength that outmatched any foe he encountered."
4. Lastly, give the reader analysis of the quote. Why is it important? How does it prove your thesis, that Superman is cool?
The fact that Superman can beat any of his opponents shows that his strength makes him cool.
Put it all together, and you've got a quote sandwich....
In Matt Style's blog post, he describes the different traits that make Superman an amazing superhero
.
The text says,"Among Superman's abilities was his super-strength that outmatched any foe."
The fact that Superman can beat any of his opponents makes him cool.
And now, your delicious quote sandwich....
Introduction
evidence
analysis
There you have it...
...the quote
sandwich!
So, here's what we have so far...

Superman is cool because he is strong.
In Matt Style's blog post, he describes the different traits that make Superman an amazing superhero. The text says,"Among Superman's abilities was his super-strength that outmatched any foe." The fact that Superman can beat any of his opponents makes him cool.
Using Matt Style's blog post, see if you can create a second quote sandwich.
Step 1: Introduce the quote. Tell the reader where it comes from. Try not to use the same language as the last quote sandwich.
Step 2: Include your evidence (meat). Start with a phrase like "The text says,"
Step 3: Give the reader some analysis. How does the quote in the middle of this sandwich help prove your thesis?
Step 4
Tying it all together
By now, you should have your topic sentence,
and two quote sandwiches. You're almost done! All that's left to do is write your concluding sentence.

A
concluding sentence
ties together a body paragraph. It should connect back to the thesis, while summarizing your body paragraph. Chances are, it's going to sound an awful lot like your topic sentence. Here are some examples of possible concluding sentences for this paragraph:
Clearly, Superman's strength is an important factor in making him cool.

Superman's strength is an important part of what makes him cool.

Since Superman is so strong, his coolness cannot be debated.
Notice how this one uses the transition word "Clearly". Nice touch!
Try writing your concluding sentence now!
central question
Step 5
Superman is cool because he is strong, helps people in danger, and he can fly, each of which has examples.
We have already written our first body paragraph. What was it about?
Body paragraph one was about Superman being strong, because that was the first idea in our thesis.
Superman is cool because
he is strong
, helps people in danger, and he can fly, each of which has specific examples.
1
Notice how we used the first idea, "he is strong",as the subject of our first body paragraph because it appears first in our thesis.

If our first body paragraph is about Superman being strong, what should our second paragraph be about?
If you said, "he helps people in need", you'd be right!
Rule: The thesis organizes your essay. The ideas in your body paragraph should be in the order of your thesis.
Do you remember how to write a topic sentence? Let's try writing a topic sentence for body paragraph two.
Superman is cool

because
he is strong,
helps people in danger
, and he can fly.
take your central idea...
...and the second topic in your thesis...
...then combine them with the conjunction "because".
Go ahead, give it a try!
Refer to the topic senctence from body paragraph 1 if you need help!
Your topic sentence for body paragraph two should read:
Superman is cool because he helps people in need.
Now you have to continue writing your body paragraph. Remember the outline for the essay requires that each body paragraph has a topic sentence, two quote sandwiches, and a concluding sentence.
Body Paragraph Outline:
1.Topic Sentence
2. Quote Sandwich
3. Quote Sandwich
4. Concluding Sentence
Here's a sentence by sentence outline:
Body Paragraph:
1. Topic Sentence
2. Introduce Quote
3. Quote
4. Analysis
5. Introduce Quote 2
6. Quote 2
7. Analysis of Quote 2
8. Concluding Sentence
Remember that for every body paragraph, you must have
text evidence
in the form of quotes from the text.



Each body paragraph should have quote sandwiches.
2
Each body paragraph starts with a topic sentence and ends with a concluding sentence.
Please write your body paragraphs 2 and 3 now!
In a five paragraph essay, there should be five sentences in the conclusion. They are:
1. Restate thesis
2. Summary of Body Paragraph 1
3. Summary of Body Paragraph 2
4. Summary of Body Paragraph 3
5. Final Thought

If you do not have each of these in your conclusion, you have not completed your essay!

Let's start with restating the thesis.
When you restate your thesis in the conclusion, try to make it different from the thesis in your introduction.
Here's our original thesis:
"Superman is cool because he is strong, helps people in danger, and he can fly."
In order to change this, I may want to use synonyms (words that have the same meaning as other words), vary my sentence structure, or use different language altogether. Let's look at an example:
"Superman is cool because he has superhuman strength, assists people in need, and has the ability to fly."
Notice how we've expanded the definition of "strong" to include "superhuman strength". We've also changed "helps people in danger" to "assists people in need". "Assist" is a synonym for "help", so it works nicely. We've also changed the ending of the sentence so that it sounds different from the original.
Now, we need to summarize each body paragraph.
The trick here is not to go into very much detail. If you've written strong body paragraphs, then you don't need to do any explaining in the conclusion. Simply remind the reader what they read in the body of your essay. Here's an example of a summary of paragraph 1:
Superman's strength is one of the elements that makes him so cool.
Notice how this doesn't sound anything like the topic sentence for body paragraph one. We used the word "elements" instead of "things" because it's more formal.
Now you try! Write a summary sentence for body paragraphs 2 and 3.
Lastly, add a final thought.
A
final thought
in an essay is similar to a hook, because it is meant to stimulate, or spark interest in, the reader. This time, you want to leave the reader with a question or idea that will linger, or remain, with the reader long after they have finished reading the essay.
Here are some examples of final thoughts for this essay:
Perhaps if we all used our powers for good and cared about people like Superman does, the world would be a better place.


Superman may be an alien, but his desire to help others makes him a human at heart.
-OR-
Now you try! Don't forget, you want the reader to remember this essay long after they've read it.
Remember to your checklist. Your conclusion MUST HAVE:
1. Restate Thesis
2. Summary of Body Paragraph 1
3. Summary of Body Paragraph 2
4. Summary of Body Paragraph 3
5. Final Thought
At this point, you should be done with your graphic organizer and ready to move to your rough draft. In order to move to your rough draft, copy everything from your graphic organizer to lined paper. Remember to DOUBLE SPACE so that you can edit and revise your work.
USE IT!
Good luck and Happy Writing!
-Mr. Starr
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