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Essay Writing Made Easy!

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paula cordova

on 7 July 2011

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Transcript of Essay Writing Made Easy!

Essay Writing Made Easy... and tasty! So why the hamburger metaphor? Well, if you think about it (and you're also hungry while you're thinking about it), an essay is like a hamburger. An essay can be divided into THREE parts:

1. The Introduction
2. The Body
3. The Conclusion But we'll get into that later.... Also, we enjoy hamburgers (or cheeseburgers, or turkey burgers, or veggie burgers...) when they're pleasing to our senses, right? When a hamburger is pleasing, we generally like to award it with an enthusiastic thumbs-up...or two. Teachers enjoy reading essays that are awesome and pleasing to the senses. Only they generally award such things with enthusiastic grades. But before we get into all the details, let's do a simple introduction game. It'll also be a good excuse to practice parts of speech. Who can tell me what an adjective is? First, you will each choose an adjective that starts
with the same letter or sound in your first name.

For example, if your name is Anthony,
you can be "Amazing Anthony". Then we'll go around the room, introducing
ourselves with our adjectives. I will start,
and the person after me must say who I am
and introduce themselves before moving on. Sound easy enough? Go ahead and
brainstorm some adjectives for your name. So why do we write essays? Why
do our teachers make us write these
lengthy papers filled with examples,
details, and stories, all within rigid
rules of structure? Why talk about
essays? Why, oh why did someone
sign you up for this class when you could
be riding the new Star Tours at Disneyland
(which is amazing, by the way)? Let's do a mini-brainstorm/list about why on earth we write essays... to practice forming arguments. to practice using facts, examples, details, and supportive arguments To logically convince parents that you DO have a point... to get others to see your side of things to practice your sentence structure and word choice, or to enhance the structure of your sentences or to polish and refine your choice of words and the order in which they go... to practice your splling and grmmer I'm warning you that texting will be the death of your English skills. Just sayin'. to express yourself! to tell a story, to change someone's mind to communicate what you REALLY
want so you can GET it. Also, to pass your class with an A, go to college where you will write more essays, get more A's and graduate so you can get a job, a house, a car, and the ease of knowing you have a hefty nest egg in your bank account. But the truth is, no one is a perfect writer (except maybe Stephen King). We all struggle and stare at blank computer screens, erase whole paragraphs, and question our skills as communicative human beings. That's why planning, preparing, and multiple drafts are essential with essay writing. Prewriting What is it? So, here's the scenario: You are assigned to write a
5-paragraph essay describing one exciting day
of your summer vacation. Thinking about it... Talking about it... Imagining everything you can
possibly imagine about the subject... Thinking about it in the shower, while driving, while eating, while daydreaming... Scribbling little notes about it... Making a cluster cloud Freewriting...until your hand wants to literally fall off... Outlining your thoughts... Drawing a picture... Where do you start?? First, don't think about what you're going to write, what your thesis will say,
and what three points you want to make. Start out by just thinking about exciting days you've had in the summer.
You could think about birthdays and holidays, what you did for the 4th of July, what you did on the last day of school, or where you went on vacation. Allow yourself to think about it for awhile. Don't push the assignment to the back of your mind. Talk about it with your friends. Ask them what THEY did during the summer. It could spark some ideas. Ask your parents or relatives what they enjoyed the most. When you feel like you have a good moment to write about, put your pencil to work. Start out by scribbling some notes in a random, haphazard fashion. Sometimes the BEST ideas are the ones that are stuffed in the back of our minds. Writing freely helps them to come out. Sample Freewrite: Summer is an exciting time. I feel like I'm always outside during the summer, even if it's hot. But what have I done in the summer that I can write about??? I went to a few parties, I went to the zoo, and I went to the beach that one time...But what stands out??? Summer is so hot, but for some reason I love the weather. I remember when I stood in the hot, hot sun for hours just to ride the new Star Tours. THAT was fun, and exciting, and definitely unique. I should write about that. My hands hurts! So I will write about what happened that day. First I drove to Disneyland and was so excited to ride Star Tours. Then I waited in line FOR 4 HOURS! And then I rode the ride, and it was amazing! Next, give your scribblings some structure! You can make a rough outline. Just woryy about the details later. At this point, just try to plot ideas in their place. Example:

Introduction (I'll think about that later)

Body Paragraph #1: Traveling to Disneyland and feeling excited

Body Paragraph #2:
Standing in line for Star Tours

Body Paragraph #3: Finally riding Star Tours

Conclusion (I'll think about that later) But how do I decide how
to arrange my points? Here are some logical ways to organize your points. Pick whatever fits
the assignment best!

Chronological order
Least important to most important
Least convincing to most convincing
General to specific After you get some ideas out and plot them in a basic outline,
you might want to brainstorm for each of your points, so you know exactly what you can say in each body paragraph. After all this prewriting, thinking, brainstorming, and point-plotting, you might want to take a break... Introductory Paragraph (or, the top bun of the hamburger) Since the introduction is the first thing readers will eat...I mean, READ,
it has got to be appealing and engaging. You could start with a rhetorical question: For example:
"How do we really enjoy the hot summer months? How do we pass the time during the long summer days? My family enjoys barbecues and swim parties, but sometimes we like to do things out of the ordinary. One exciting moment that stands out in my mind is the time my family and I went to Disneyland on a short notice just to ride the new Star Tours ride. We live six hours away, and the ride had just opened, but we were determined to be among the first people to experience it. The day that we went to Disneyland to ride the new Star Tours was one of the most exciting days of my summer vacation." You also want to start out general and get more specific. In this way, the intro. kind of looks like an triangle... So what's a thesis statement??

The THESIS STATEMENT is the most important sentence in the whole essay. It tells the reader WHAT THE ESSAY WILL BE ABOUT. If you removed the thesis statement from the essay and read it alone, you would know what the entire essay would be about.
It's usually placed at the VERY END of the introduction.
(No pressure...) Now let's talk about some different ways to start an introductory paragraph... You could start with a story: For example:

"When I was five years old, I went to Disneyland with my family and rode Star Tours. My dad loved that ride, and he would laugh and cheer while we rode Star Tours. Once I started a family of my own, we waited for our son to reach the required height in order to ride Star Tours. I will always remember my son's face as he laughed and cheered just like my father had. That is why when we heard that the new Star Tours would open, we rushed down to Disneyland to ride it. The day we rode the new Star Tours, over twenty years since I first rode it, was one of the most exciting days of my summer vacation." You could start with a surprising statement. Shock your readers! For example:

"Most people do boring things during the summer, but not me! I like to be free to take off and do whatever feels right. That's why when I heard that one of my favorite rides at Disneyland was reopening, my family and I packed our bags, jumped in the car, and took off for the Happiest Place on Earth. We knew that we would remember this crazy trip and experience the rest of our lives. The day we rushed off to Disneyland on a moment's notice was one of the most exciting days of my summer vacation." You could start with a quotation: For example:

" We always hear that 'good things come to those who wait,' but for me, a spontaneous trip to Disneyland to ride the new Star Tours rewarded me with many fond memories that I will keep forever. While we did wait during the six-hour drive and again during a four-hour line, we felt so excited and looked forward to the moment we would finally ride Star Tours. Even though it was a spontaneous trip, the day we went to Disneyland to ride the new Star Tours was one of the most exciting days of my summer vacation." Remember, though, that the introduction (or, top bun of the hamburger) only introduces the essay. It doesn't give away all the good stuff; it only invites you to eat, err, READ more.

So make your introduction
but don't give away all your "juicy" details! Body Paragraphs
(or, hamburger patties) Always start with a TOPIC SENTENCE. This sentence will introduce what each body paragraph is about. For example:
"The exciting trip to Disneyland started off when we traveled for six hours." Then, fill in the paragraph with SPECIFIC details. Remember to use sensory details. Describe, if you can, what you saw, smell, heard, tasted, and touched, or what you felt. For example:
"First, we loaded up on salty chips and bubbly soda for the road, but we could barely eat and drink because we could hardly keep still from excitement. It felt like my heart was beating a mile a minute as we got closer and closer to Anaheim. To keep ourselves busy, we listened to some upbeat rock music and talked about all the rides at Disneyland. Out of my window, I watched the landscape change from the green pastures of the valley to the enormous mountains and finally to the city scene of Los Angeles. When we finally saw the sign that read, "Disneyland," I felt like I was about to burst." Then, give your body paragraph a CONCLUDING SENTENCE to close it off. For example:
"Even though it was a long six-hour ride, a big part of the excitement was just traveling there." Conclusion
(or, the bottom bun of the hamburger) The conclusion looks like the introduction, only backwards. First, restate your thesis in a FRESH, NEW way For example:
"Being one of the first people to experience the new Star Tours definitely made this an exciting day of summer vacation." Then, you're going to want to summarize, BUT don't just repeat the things you've already said! Say them in a fresh new way. Say it in a way that's meaningful and important, even if it's only important to you. For example:
"The exciting car ride helped us bond as a family and look forward to good times together; it taught me to enjoy the wait. While standing in line for hours, my family bonded by sharing stories and enjoying being together. Now we will always remember that we rode that ride as a family." Now, end your essay with a final thought. Say something wise, thoughtful, touching, or funny! For example:
"On this exciting day, I learned that family time enhances fun experiences, and we can always share the memories together for the rest of our lives." So you wrote your whole essay. Now what?! One of the most important qualities of an essay is THE TITLE. Imagine the name of one of your favorite hamburgers. If you went into a restaurant and the menu advertised "The Hamburger," would you feel excited to eat it? But if the hamburger was called "The Ultimate Bacon Ranch Turkey Supreme of Awesomeness," you would feel more inclined to try it, right? Same thing with essays. The title is the first thing your teacher reads. Make it appealing, exciting, and unique. For example:
We could title the example essay:

The Happiest Day on Earth and Alderaan:
An Exciting Day at Disneyland,


How a Day on the New Star Tours Ride Brought My Family Closer,

May the Force and Family Be with Us:
A Day at Disneyland with My Family Now it's your turn! Think about an exciting day you experienced during summer break. It doesn't have to be this summer; it could be one from the past summers. Talk with friends and family about it. Think about it as you're doing other stuff, but don't push it to the back of your mind! :) Until Thursday, practice some more prewriting. You could do a freewrite (no rules!), cluster cloud, or outline if you like. Come to class on Thursday with some idea of what you will write about. Today we're going to write a 3-paragraph
essay together. We'll go step-by-step until we have
a fabulous essay! First of all, have you thought about what was the most exciting
day of your summer vacation? Did any of you do prewriting? For those of you who did not do any prewriting, try doing some freewriting now. Write WHATEVER comes to mind. For those of you who have done prewriting, let's make a cluster cloud. Now, let's make a basic outline, like this: I. Introduction
II. My exciting day of summer vacation
A. The first thing that happened
B. The second thing that happened
C. The third thing that happened
III. Conclusion Now decide what kind of introduction you want to have.
Let's look back on the different kinds there are:
You can tell a short story
You can start with a surprising statement
You can start with a quotation
You can start with a question When you decide, go ahead and write your introduction on a new piece of paper. Remember that the LAST sentence of your paragraph will be your THESIS. It should be able to stand alone, and tell us what the whole essay will be about. Next, create a topic sentence for your body paragraph. It could look something like this:

"When I went to ________ during summer vacation, I did so many fun activities."
"The whole day when I __________ during summer vacation, I had so much fun."
"I will never forget the day I ______ because the day was filled with so many fun moments."

These sentences tell your reader that you are now introducing the "meat" of your essay and that details are coming soon. Next, we will write the "meat" of our body paragraph. Remember to fill in all kinds of specific details in a logical order. Start with what happened FIRST, then NEXT, and then LAST. Remember to use descriptive adjectives to illustrate ALL the senses you can. Describe what you saw, heard, smelled, tasted, and felt. For example:
I ate the juicest watermelon.
I rode a scary but thrilling rollercoaster.
I inhaled the aroma of fresh popcorn and butter. I listened to the crowd cheering, "Go, Giants!"
I felt my heart skip a beat when I tumbled down the
slippery waterslide. And don't forget your adverbs!! These basically describe how, where, and when you did something.
For a quick refresher, here's another video: Okay, go ahead and write your body paragraph, and use as many details as possible! Next, write a concluding sentence for your body paragraph. This sentence will close up your body paragraph. *Hint*: Sometimes it reflects on the topic sentence.

For example:
"With all those fun activities that day, I will never forget __________."
"The day I went to _________ was the most fun and exciting day of my life so far." Now for our conclusions. Remember how they go... Now, you give it a try! : ) Don't forget about the title! Remember what we talked about last time... Go ahead and experiment with a few different titles for your essay. Anyone who titles their essay, "My Summer Vacation" is fired. How do you know which words to capitalize and which not to? Always capitalize the first word. Any word that is a preposition or article, leave lower-cased. What's a preposition, you ask? Now, when you write essays for high school or college, the most important thing is to GET YOUR IDEAS OUT. Just write, as we did. Then, let your essay "sit" for a day or two. Come back to your essay with a critical eye, basically pretend that you hate it, and then edit it. Important Survival Tips for Essay Writing Now (and beyond!!) Do not procrastinate!!! Thinking about your essay totally counts as prewriting, as long as you really give it some thought. Thinking about for days before writing it makes it a million times EASIER when you actually sit down to write. Do lots of prewriting before you commit to a topic. Freewrite, cluster, brainstorm, change your mind, write a list, draw a picture, etc. Take a break after prewriting and before writing your introduction. Your intro. should be fresh and full of energy, so you should, too! Make sure that your thesis says what the whole essay will be about. You can even borrow the
language of the topic assignment. Take a break before you write your conclusion. You want that conclusion to also be FRESH and
full of energy! Never settle for a BORING title! Make yours unique
and eye-catching!
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