Then again, I’m always interested in how other people do the things I can already do; maybe you’re curious like that, too.
Before I start, I should note that what I describe in this post is a fairly formulaic style of essay writing.
Later, as students work on their own pieces, I would likely return to these pieces to show students how to execute certain writing moves.
Although many students might need more practice in writing an effective argument, many of them are excellent at arguing in person.
Once students have argued without the support of any kind of research or text, I would set up a second debate; this time with more structure and more time to research ahead of time.
I would pose a different question, supply students with a few articles that would provide ammunition for either side, then give them time to read the articles and find the evidence they need.
In my experience, I’ve found that students appreciate having a clear picture of what’s expected of them when beginning a writing assignment.
At this time, I also show them a model of a piece of writing that meets the requirements of the assignment.
It’s not exactly the 5-paragraph essay, but it definitely builds on that model.
I strongly believe students should be shown how to move past those kinds of structures into a style of writing that’s more natural and fitting to the task and audience, but I also think they should start with something that’s pretty clearly organized. One of the most effective ways to improve student writing is to show them mentor texts, examples of excellent writing within the genre students are about to attempt themselves.