Essay Writing Tips for Students and Lesson Tips for Teachers {with a FREEBIE}

Now that you have had the chance to get to know your students over the past few weeks, it is time to get into the books and teach your students the fundamentals of essay writing. That's why today's blog post is filled with essay writing tips for students and teachers.

Essay writing is a struggle for many students. Just as our students find essays to be a daunting task, teachers find the grading aspect of essays to be equally overwhelming. Good news, though! I have come up with some helpful hints and essay writing tips for students and teachers, which will help to make the essay writing (and grading) process a lot smoother.

On the lookout for essay writing tips for students and teachers? Then you're going to LOVE the tips included in this ELA blog post! Your 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students will be able to write with ease, AND you'll find grading tips to make your life easier as well. But it gets even better - there's a FREE download too! Great ideas for the middle school or high school English teacher or anyone who assigns essays.

Essay Writing Tips for Students

When students are assigned an essay, it may look quite challenging at first glance. Where to begin? How do I properly cite the sources? How do I create a Works Cited Page or bibliography? What writing format do I use and how do I use it?

These are the questions students ask themselves, over and over. In an effort to make this process easier, you may consider sharing these tips with your students!

1. Plan THEN Write:

The best way to tackle an essay is to break it down into smaller parts, or paragraphs, then work on each section one at a time. Plan out what each paragraph should look like. Next, create an outline with bullets or use a graphic organizer to help get your thoughts in order. To help you get started, here is the link to my free Essay Writing Organizer (I faithfully use this every time I teach students how to write an essay). 

2. Peer Editing/Revision:

Students can peer edit their essays in class. This is beneficial, because not only do they provide constructive criticism to their classmates, but it also helps with their own writing as well. I deliberately have students (who may have difficulty with the essay writing format) share their papers with students who have a clear understanding of the format. Alternatively, students who have stronger writing skills, are paired up with students who have similar strengths.

3. Grammarly.com:

Students can access this online extension to help with grammar mistakes. Aside from the fact that it not only catches mistakes that a built-in word processor may not, it also explains why it is considered to be a mistake. This is a free service that's also available on a smartphone or tablet. You can type directly into the program (and check your errors instantly) or upload a document, then review your errors and edit one-by-one.

4. Sonofacitationmachine.com:

This website provides both help and assistance to your students who might need a little extra help in learning how to incorporate citations and create a Works Cited or bibliography page. 

5. Purdue Owl:

This website provides extensive information regarding the different writing styles, such as MLA and APA. It breaks the formats down, in a step-by-step manner, so they are not as confusing for students. 

Essay Writing Tips for Teachers

How can you reduce your marking load? Once your students have had an opportunity to practice and polish their essay writing skills, it's now time for you to grade them! Enjoy these essay writing tips for teachers.

1. Grammarly:

(Again!) Using one of your browser's extensions (Chrome, FireFox, etc.) the program will help you to catch plagiarism, as well as grammar mistakes quicker than you normally would. I agree that it is important that students be able to develop the skills necessary to edit their own work, so instead of students using the program to review their own work, you can have them email you a copy of their essay instead, then you can use the program to help you catch those errors you may have initially missed. SImply, save the essay, then open it in the Grammarly program after you have downloaded it to your computer. The document will be formatted a bit differently once in the program (such as the title not being centered in the above example), but the errors will be clearly highlighted on the right-hand side, as well as their suggestions for edits. 

2. Peer Editing:

Encouraging and allowing for peer editing time means less time focusing on writing mistakes and more time to focus on expanding their ideas. This extra time can be put towards more time for constructive feedback and positive regards on their papers. In order to make this task a bit more engaging, I created a FREE Peer Editing Scavenger Hunt activity.

3. Checklists:

Provide your students with a checklist that must be submitted along with their final writing piece. This will help to ensure students are not missing any material or information. This will save you time from having to review a paper twice and it will save the student time from re-writing sections from their essay due to unnecessary mistakes. You can download this free essay writing checklist HERE.

 4. Variety:

Providing students with a variety of topic choices will alleviate some of the tediousness of reading the same essay topics over and over again. Whether it's a personal narrative, literary or persuasive paper, a choice of topics is an easy way to engage a variety of interests.

5. Rubrics:

Use a writing rubric for more efficient and effective grading. RUBISTAR is a great starting point for you to create your own rubric or better yet, you can search for more teacher-made rubrics already on the site. 


I enjoyed writing this post and learning a bit more about how we can make the life of both students and teachers a little easier when writing and grading essays. Hopefully, these tips work for you, as well as your students! 

Are there any essay writing strategies that have worked with your classes?


Looking for more reading strategy ideas? Check out these ideas from the other Secondary English Coffee Shop bloggers!


37 comments

  1. Loved your post! I really like the peer editing scavenger hunt. Having a list of specific essay elements to evaluate makes the peer editing process so much more meaningful. Thanks! :)

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  2. So many great tips, Sparrow. I find that I need to "force" the revision process by making it part of class activities; otherwise, they don't always do it. However, once we show them that the process works, many of them will start to do it on their own.

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