Middle School Writing Intensive — Essay Writing
The ability to write an effective essay is a fundamental aspect of secondary education. In this course, students will learn how to write a variety of essays that can be applied to a wide range of subject areas. These strategies for organizing and conveying ideas can be applied when writing essays now, in high school, and in college.
This class focuses on expository writing. Work will begin at the paragraph level and build to the five-paragraph essay. Types of writing will include comparison/contrast, informative, descriptive, cause/effect, and problem/solution essays, with particular emphasis on persuasive writing. A primary area of focus will be how to structure essays, as doing so is the basic building block of effective essay writing. The course will address various topics relevant to this type of writing, such as thesis statements, outlines, audience, active versus passive voice, support for ideas, tone, and introductions and conclusions. Students will follow all steps of the writing process, from brainstorming through publishing (reading work aloud in class), including peer reviews.
Homework will involve engaging in various steps in the writing process, including drafting and revising. Students should also expect homework to include research and related activities as needed for certain writing projects.
Note: This course is intended to provide focused instruction and repeated practice in writing paragraphs and essays. Students should expect to write multiple persuasive essays in the course, for example, so as to build and practice their skills. While grammar and spelling corrections will be addressed as part of the writing process, there will be no direct instruction on these concepts; this writing course should not be confused for a comprehensive language arts class. It is also important to note that this is not a creative writing class.
This course assumes that prospective students already write grammatically correct sentences and demonstrate both willingness and ability to stay current in the course. To get the intended results from the class, students must submit assignments on time. If the course grade drops below a B or if a pattern of late work emerges, a parent conference will be the first step required for the student to remain in the class.
Applications of the Course
The principles taught in this course have far-reaching application. Beginning in middle school, students will be expected to formulate opinions, defend ideas, and present arguments in a manner that is thorough and logical. Understanding how to approach an essay prompt is the first step in this process. Whether in a middle school speech class, in a high school civics class, on an AP US history exam, or in a college literature class, students can apply the techniques taught in this course to plan and generate powerful essays for the rest of their academic careers.
I have a B.A. in political science from Columbia University and an M.A. in The Teaching of English from Teachers College, Columbia University. Classroom teaching experience includes grade 5-8 as well as college, and in addition, I have been teaching online college English courses since 2007. I have published multiple test-prep textbooks that prepare middle and high school students for end of course reading and language arts exams in various states and recently consulted as a subject matter expert in grammar for a software company developing an interactive grammar tool for college students.
Course Details, Cost, and Supplies
Class size: Minimum of 10
$83/month for 9 months
Pay by the semester for a discounted rate: $312 in September and $390 in January
$25 materials fee due in September
*Note that I only accept payment via PayPal (credit/debit cards accepted).
No textbook required
Students should bring the following to class each week:
a three-ring binder (between 1"-2" in size) and loose leaf paper, as well as pencils or blue or black ink pens and a different colored pen to use in the peer review process.