As humans, we complicate things. As we accumulate more and more ideas and knowledge, we feel smarter. But are we wiser? Find out what a Middle School student can teach a University student about writing below.
As we accumulate more and more ideas and knowledge, we feel smarter. But are we wiser? Click To Tweet
I am excited to be partnering with Suzanne Davis to bring you a joint blogpost. You can find the second half here.
Middle School students are taught a specific structure for an essay.
It is called “The 5-Paragraph Essay” because it consists of five paragraphs.
Introduction (one paragraph)
Body (three paragraphs)
Conclusion (one paragraph)
Most of the action happens in the body of the essay.
You make one point and then add two to three supporting or explanatory details.
The thesis holds the most value in the essay.The thesis holds the most value in the essay. Click To Tweet
A thesis must be arguable.
Someone needs to be able to challenge you on what you have said.
A thesis is a conclusion you have made based on reasoning and evidence.
The point of the essay is to use your body paragraphs to explain and prove your thesis and convince your reader.
👇🏻Here is an awesome video about theses. 👇🏻
All of this is old hat to you, eh?
However, in college, essays can run very long.
It is hard to see the forest through the trees.
You are dealing with complicated issues with layers of evidence and reasoning.
Still, even the most complicated essay still has to follow the rules of essay writing.
When grappling with this, I find it helpful to think of my larger essay as a series of mini essays.When grappling with the long essay, I find it helpful to think of my larger essay as a series of mini essays. Click To Tweet
I have one large thesis.
Then my body points, mentioned above, serve as smaller theses supporting the main one.
I am responsible for explaining and proving each thesis.
How better to do this than with a well written paragraph of one point and two to three supporting details?
If you remember nothing else, then remember everything you write should point back and support your thesis.
It is easy to do that in a 5-paragraph essay, why not let that help you write better, longer essays?
Types of Essays
The term “essay” umbrellas many forms of writing together.
Let us tease out the different types of essays.
Persuasive – You aim to convince the reader to agree with your opinion or belief through reasoning and evidence.
Analytical – You are closely reading a text or event, then producing an argument from your analysis of that item.
Explanatory – You are telling a story or explaining something. This does not have an argument. You are giving a detailed description of the topic for the reader.
Comparative – You have two texts, people, or events. You go back and forth between them, discussing their similarities or differences. You make a conclusion and thesis from this comparison.
Although in Middle School students may focus on one type of essay at a time, you as a college student are not required to do so.
Advanced writing allows you to magically put together many kinds of writing to create diverse texts.
Why would a musician want to stick with just one chord progression?
So, the next time you write an essay, try to marry together many types to create a more diverse and persuasive piece.
Start out with explanatory. Progress into comparative. End with persuasive.
Have one section that analyzes through comparison.
Forms of essays can serve as tools in your toolbox to help you write better.
Punctuation and Basic Syntax
In Middle School, a new world opens up to the student.
They have spent their whole life talking and writing in English, but now they are learning about grammar and punctuation.
Things which were formerly random now have meaning and intentionality.
True, most young students cannot appreciate this discovery, favoring video games and ice cream over dependent clauses.
Still, a college student may have a different problem.
They may take for granted all that grammar knowledge they labored to acquire years before.
Sentences with decent grammar become automatic and unintentional.
I do not want to teach you punctuation or syntax here, but I would like to show you how putting attention on it and refreshing your understanding — like a Middle Schooler would do — can transform your writing.
Adverbs and Verbs
I vehemently hate a sentence which overuses the word “is.”
That is easy for him to say.
It was a beautiful day.
I am happy to write this.
The thesis is the most important part.
TO BE TO BE TO BE! I cannot endure. It is not meant to be!
Adverbs and action verbs aid you to viciously annihilate “to be” forms from your writing.
That is easy for him to say. 👉🏻 He easily said that.
It was a beautiful day. 👉🏻 The day shone beautifully.
I am happy to write this. 👉🏻 I am writing this happily.
The thesis is the most important part. 👉🏻 The thesis clearly stands out as the most important part.
If you struggle to understand what an adverb is, then do what a Middle Schooler would do. Watch a funny video about it.
👇🏻I suggest Schoolhouse Rock. 👇🏻
How daunting it is for any student to comprehend all the usages of the comma. Click To Tweet
How daunting it is for any student to comprehend all the usages of the comma.
Just put a comma when you take a breath, right?
Well, it can help in more ways than one.
1) You can lengthen sentences with it, and encourage the reader to continue the thought.
2) You can add additional information, such as this clause here.
3) You can clarify pieces of information within the sentences, which may cause confusion.
For a full list of usages of the comma, I suggest Purdue Owl (Link).
The TakeawayRelax and consider grammar and punctuation as colleagues in your writing endeavor. Click To Tweet
Grammar and punctuation are there to help you write more clearly.
They are FOR you.
Use them or do not use them, but do not think about it like a contest.
You are not winning points for the more commas you use or the number of three-syllable adjectives.
If that were true, I would be failing!
A Middle Schooler is not losing sleep over their semicolon usage, I promise.
A proofreader will tell you that your grammar should clarify your speech and reflect on you.
It should not overwhelm your writing or be hyper-correct just for the sake of it.
Relax and consider grammar and punctuation as colleagues in your writing endeavor.
For a humorous and often times emotional look at punctuation, read this:
There is a fun — yes, fun — podcast on grammar. Check it here:
I have covered a lot here.
The innocence and simplicity of the writing of a Middle Schooler, who is just starting to layer on the sophistication, offer a lot of value to the University student.
So many things that young adults take for granted can actually be a huge tool for success.
Try some of these in your own writing today.
👇🏻Read the other half of this article on Academic Writing Success. 👇🏻
I have a passion for helping students, young and old, improve their writing and study skills. I am a tutor and proofreader.