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  Weekly Feature (February 1, 2009)


Prewriting and the Essay
Jennifer's Weekly Feature


The way to make the essay easy is to brainstorm.

I used a combination of brainstorming plus a four-column chart to write the following “My Best Friend” essay in class. First, on the back of a piece of paper, we wrote the topic “My Best Friend”. Then for five minutes, we all wrote down anything we could think of about this topic. Then, once the five minutes were up, we took a couple of minutes to read back over the ideas we’d written. We crossed out some ideas out that wouldn’t work, and underlined the three best ideas to be our essay main points.

We transferred those main points to the first three boxes on the four-column chart page, so they were easier to see and more organized, but with space for the details we needed for Body Paragraph support. Then one by one, we thought about how we could show, not tell, those three points. We wrote the details and examples down on the chart under each main point heading. Then we put the ideas into sentences, and wrote first Body Paragraph 1, then 2 and 3.

We wrote the thesis for the introduction by looking at the first three headings on our chart, and including those main points in our thesis. Lastly, we went back to the chart, and used the fourth column to write our restated thesis. We wrote “Conclusion” in the top box, and used the three boxes underneath the word to write the synonyms we were going to use to restate our thesis in the first line of the Conclusion. The students wrote great essays!

My three Body Paragraphs are shown below. As an exercise, read them, and then write an Introduction and a Conclusion. If you need more help to write the Introduction and Conclusion, go to the Weekly “Mirror Image: Writing the Introduction and the Conclusion. Ask a teacher for help to mark them.

My Best Friend: 3 Body Paragraphs

My best friend is generous. For example, she is generous about spending time with me. No matter what her busy schedule is like, there’s always time for us to get together. She is also generous about giving presents and always buys me dinner at a favourite restaurant when it’s my birthday. Moreover, once recently I’d just had some bad news and was feeling blue. My friend realized words alone wouldn’t be enough to cheer me up, and so gifted me with sugarless chocolates. She gives freely and is fun, too.

I really enjoy spending time with my friend because we always have a lot of fun. For example, on the weekend we had dinner at a really good restaurant on Burrard Street in Vancouver called Incendio West, and then we drove to Granville Island and got tickets to a play by the Vancouver Theatresports League. We saw, Raiders of the Lost Improv, parodying the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark with Harrison Ford. It was very funny and well worth the $16.00 ticket price. She is always fun to be with, and she’s helpful, as well.

My best friend is one of the most helpful people I know. For example, she helps me by giving very good advice. Once I had a problem with my boss at work. I had accidentally offended him, and I felt very badly about it. Her advice was to simply go straight in to see him in the morning and apologize to him, face to face. I did; he accepted. Our relationship was restored, and I felt so much better. She always helps me when I need it most!

Good Luck!


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The Train of Death

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