Picture this: You’re planning your best friend’s birthday party. What will you serve? What entertainment will you provide for your guests?
When I ask my ninth grade students to imagine this scenario, they eagerly begin writing down their ideas. We have a lively conversation about what kind of food they will serve and what kind of entertainment (a rock band is a favorite!) they will provide.
This conversation is the perfect entry point for reviewing formal essay writing with my students. As my students think about hosting a party, I emphasize that this process is similar to beginning the formal essay writing process.
I introduce the five key steps of the writing process by following this metaphor:
- Preparing to host your party: beginning the writing process by brainstorming and starting a first draft.
- Inviting your guests: inviting people to read your first draft.
- Hosting: continuing to refine your writing based on feedback from your readers.
- Thanking your guests: going back to your readers for more input
- Cleaning up the house: preparing the final draft
This extended metaphor frames students’ understanding of formal essay writing in student-friendly, relatable language. I love those “a-ha” moments when my ninth-grade students who have struggled with essay writing finally “get it” with this metaphor. While I use this as a back to school activity with my early high school students, it’s also a fantastic way to introduce middle school essay writing.
This resource includes everything you need to bring this activity to your class, including a slideshow, graphic organizer, and answer key.
I’d love to hear from you! How do you introduce essay writing in your middle school and high school classrooms?
Learn more about this resource here.