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Why Teach Essay Writing

Why teach essay writing in middle school? This is usually a requirement at some point in a student’s school career. Learn about this important skill.

Do you have to teach essay writing in your school curriculum? This is usually a requirement at some point in a student’s school career. 

To some people, essay writing might be a skill of the past. However, it is a vital skill that students must develop to be successful in the future.

If you’re here, I’m assuming you’re wondering that exact question. I’ll share with you my top 5 reasons for teaching essay writing and a super helpful tool you can implement today. 

Why Teach Essay Writing

Reason 1: High School & College

The most obvious reason middle school teachers should teach essay writing is to prepare them for high school and college-level writing. Although the topics covered in middle school may not be as in-depth as what they will encounter in higher levels, learning the basics and structure of essay writing in middle school will set them up for success in high school and college classes.

If students are taught a solid foundation of essay writing, they will be able to adapt that skill to whatever level of deeper thinking they encounter. When students understand the concept of basic essay writing- stating a fact and backing it up – they will be able to apply that to any style of writing.

Essay writing allows students to explore a topic on a deeper level. A lot of teachers feel that they can learn more about what a student knows from an essay than from a test. This is also helpful for students who are poor test takers; many students like that they can explain their answers instead of choosing from multiple-choice answers.

Overall, high school and college are stressful enough. Having a strong foundation in essay writing before entering high school or college can help alleviate some of that stress.

Reason 2: Scholarship & College Admission

Speaking of stress, the last two years of high school are jam-packed with deadlines, applications, and coursework, leaving most students overwhelmed and exhausted. During these years, students begin applying for post-secondary education and scholarships non-stop. 

Most scholarships require some form of essay and some post-secondary admissions requirements. When you teach essay writing and students master the skill (the basics, anyway), these essays won’t seem as stressful and will be completed much more quickly!

Have you ever tried writing about yourself? It’s not as easy as it seems! A large majority of scholarship and college admission essays are about the student personally. 

Argumentative and persuasive essays help students express why they should be picked and reasons to back them up. When money and your future are on the line, you want to do the best you possibly can!

Reason 3: Learning New Skills

Let’s face it. Essay writing is not a simple task, especially for middle school students. If you asked students their thoughts on essays, they would probably respond with, “Too hard! Takes too much time!” 

However, once they have a minute to think about it or have some time to practice, their mindset shifts and the responses change to, “It’s just writing paragraphs.” or “I would rather write an essay than take a test.” 

It can be intimidating and overwhelming when anyone starts learning a new skill! Think about it: What thoughts would you have if you tried to learn to ride a skateboard today? Or learn to drive a manual transmission car at 30 years old? You would probably have the same thoughts that students have when they first learn about essay writing!

As you teach essay writing and students learn the routine, they can apply that to other new skills. Essay writing is a process, and when students realize it is a similar process every single time, they tend to feel more comfortable with it. They apply this processing to other skills and eventually realize that every new skill is a process.

Research is a part of everyday life for a lot of people. Whether it is researching for a history assignment, a proposal at work, or gluten-free foods, it all requires an understanding of smart research practices. 

Essay writing is one of the best ways to learn how to research to find and apply sound and factual research. 

Reason 4: Job Application Essays and Cover Letters

Job application essays and cover letters are crucial skills for job applicants. The essay or letter needs to stand out from everyone else and prove why the applicant is deserving of the position. 

Applicants need to write in a way that is unique and factual at the same time while staying concise and not rambling. This is a skill that takes time and practice to master, and essay writing is an excellent way to achieve that!

The way an applicant introduces themselves in their essay or letter shows the employer the person’s communication skills and how they show professionalism. 

In some professions, a proposal is required along with other documents. This will show the employer if the applicant can write formally and communicate effectively for their company.

In some cases, the applicant will be given a topic to write about before their interview, and they have an allotted time to do so. This is stressful! Not only are you worried about getting the job, but now you’re having to write all your thoughts out professionally and quickly. 

From this, the employer can see many things: formal writing, time management, and how you compose yourself in a stressful situation. No pressure, right? A strong foundation in essay writing helps make this process a little less stressful. 

Reason 5: Effective Communication

 Have you ever read an email and been completely lost by the end, having no idea what the point was? 

That is where effective communication skills come in. I am in no way saying any email should be the length of an essay; however, the process of essay writing can still be applied here. 

When writing an email, the sender needs to have organized thoughts, explanations, key points, and possibly calls to action, and it all needs to be kept concise, just like in an essay. 

If a person can master the skill of essay writing, communication in the workplace should be a breeze.

Different career paths will require different forms of communication. Some jobs will require grant writing, idea proposals, letters, and other forms of written correspondence. No matter what the title of the writing is, the style of an essay can (almost) always be applied. 

Trust me; you’ll want to check out this ready-to-go resource!  

Essay Writing Unit

Not all units are structured specifically for middle school, but I’ve got you covered! I have created a unit to teach essay writing specifically for middle school students.

This Argumentative Essay Writing Unit contains a step-by-step process for teaching how to write a well-written structured paragraph and is focused on the skills necessary for middle school writing levels. 

The lessons within this unit are scaffolded for student success. You will get a unit overview, lesson plans, regular notes, modified notes, interactive learning, and more!

This scaffolded argumentative essay writing unit follows the gradual release model (I Do, We Do/You Do) for student learning. Teachers will teach the skill to the whole class and then give students time to practice this skill with a partner or by themselves before requiring them to use it independently. 

Students will learn how to write an argumentative essay. Each skill is broken down into a different lesson to help students grasp each new concept. 

Lesson Overview

  • Pre-Unit: Rant Unit
  • Lesson 1: What is Argumentative Writing?
  • Lesson 2: Anticipation Activity: Agree or Disagree?
  • Lesson 3: Choose an Argumentative Topic
  • Lesson 4: Writing a Thesis Statement
  • Lesson 5: Finding Reliable Sources
  • Lesson 6A: Types of Evidence
  • Lesson 6B: Collecting Research
  • Lesson 7: Formal Writing
  • Lesson 8: Introduction to Paragraph Writing
  • Lesson 9: Body Paragraph Writing
  • Lesson 10: Conclusion Paragraph Writing
  • Lesson 11A: Claim and Counterclaim (7th Grade Common Core)
  • Lesson 11B: Claim, Counterclaim, and Rebuttal (8th Grade Common Core)
  • Lesson 12: Formatting an Essay
  • Lesson 13: Creating a Works Cited Page
  • Lesson 14: Creating In-Text Citations
  • Lesson 15: Self and Peer Revising and Editing
  • Lesson 16: Publishing Day

Teacher Feedback 

“Very helpful resource! I have never taught grade 7/8 language before and this helped me know exactly what to do with minimal prep. Thank you!”

Find this resource on Teachers Pay Teachers USD or Shopify CAD.

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