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5 teaching strategies to help your students’ minds stay focused.
As a teacher, you’ll probably find yourself assigning and grading more than a few essays over the course of your career. However, without guidance, you might find your students’ papers to be a little lackluster. After all, very few people know exactly how to write right away, and many spend at least part of the time in which we work on their assignments staring helplessly at a blank screen or piece of paper, trying to get thoughts flowing. This hitch in productivity, though, can be handled so that students can get more out of their work, leading them to be less overwhelmed when they are faced with a writing assignment. All you have to do is to know, use, and teach a few easy steps to get those creative juices flowing. Here are 5 teaching strategies that will help you get the most out of your assignment writing!
- Pick Your Topic. In many cases, teachers will give their students a topic to write about. However, if you have a more open-ended assignment, stress to your students how important it is to know what they’re writing about before they sit down to write. To force this, some teachers require a sort of mini-paper from students giving a proposal of the topic they choose to focus on in their assignment. From there, you can give your students a guiding hand on their topic and the steps moving forward.
- Structure Your Thoughts. There is a basic structure and flow to any piece of writing. Whether you are writing a one-pager or 100 pages, there is a structure to the topic, and more importantly, your thoughts. When it comes to how to write an essay structure, it is important to consider the following:
- Introduction. This is where you take the topic of interest and state your thesis or what it is you hope to accomplish throughout the coming paragraphs and pages.
- Supporting Points. There is no restriction when it comes to how many supporting points you can have. What is important is having the information that will support what it is you are writing on. Whether it be referring to existing research on your topic or citing other works, supporting points are the meat of any report, assignment or paper.
- Conclusion. When all is said and done, a writer who has brought a strong argument will know that when it comes to any essay structure, the conclusion ties everything together. From introduction to supporting points, the conclusion gives the final push to explain, justify or support the topic.
- Know Your Style. Not all pieces of writing are the same. Just as there is an array of genres in poetry, there are is array of writing styles to choose from. Knowing whether you are writing a narrative, a Q&A, or even a fact sheet will dictate the structure of your paper. It is important to realize that knowing and having a style of writing is not limited to just one style. When done properly, a combination of styles can actually enhance and create a new level of sophistication to work. A writing assignment can have a mix of long-form essay format to fact sheets or bullet point. Once again, you can simplify this by asking for a specific type of paper (i.e. a research paper) or you can leave it more open-ended, allowing students to personalize the style to fit their topic.
- Turn off Distractions. We are constantly bombarded by technology, from the many social media platforms to new ways of keeping us connected digitally. All this technology swirling around us can actually be hindering our ability to write. When it comes to writing, it is important to turn off all distractions, but more importantly, it also means putting yourself in an environment that supports your writing and creative juices. If you find that you need noise to focus, go to a café or if you find noise distracting, why not go to a library? A park? The options are endless – and remember, you know yourself better and what will help nurture your writing. This can be a little frustrating as a teacher because while you can control the distractions in a classroom, it is impossible to control student actions once they leave. All you can do is to stress the importance of focusing and turning off distractions. If you want to go the extra mile, you can even dedicate class time to working on assignments, allowing students to work in a controlled environment.
- Set Goals and Milestones. At one point or another, we will have all experienced that last-minute dash to hash out a paper. Whether it was during high school, university, or our first real adult job, there are deadlines that just need to be met. To maximize your writing productivity, having goals and milestones throughout the process will not only break it up, but make the whole process so much easier. From giving yourself a deadline on when to pick a topic to how to structure an essay, breaking up the process can actually help accomplish the paper faster. Not to mention that creating goals and milestones allows you to give yourself that buffer to review, revise and revisit. As a teacher, you know how hard it can be to set these deadlines for yourself, though, especially if you are teaching a younger group of students. One way to get them into the practice of these mini deadlines is to set them yourself. Have assignment milestones along the way and eventually your students will pick up the process on their own as well.
Whether you are writing a “How to write an essay structure” or the next great J.K. Rowling series, there are always tips and tricks to help make the most of your time writing.
Michelle Brooks is the content editor at the educational website Essaypro.com. Her expertise includes education, business, and lifestyle. She considers herself a citizen of the world, and likes to place great emphasis on how everything is interconnected. With that in mind, tutoring and helping others expand their horizon has and always will be one of her greatest hobbies.