Visualising essay structures

I’m in the throws of A-level revision at the moment and as ever struggling to teach exam technique so my students get it and more importantly remember it.

I see things in pictures so in the last week I’ve tried to visualise essays and create memorable images that will help my students. It’s had two reactions

1. They’ve liked it and can see its benefit

2. They think I am stupid but at least they remember it so fingers crossed it’ll have a positive impact at some point anyway

Here’s a few I made. Feel free to steal, criticise…

main paraThe picture above is aiming to make it clear to students that main paragraphs are the bread and butter of a history essay, the sustinence, the bit that keeps you going.

para structureThis is the structure of a main paragraph. Good history essays have argument running through, represented here by a red thread. Decent paragraphs open with a signpost sentence, something that tells the reader what the paragraph is about, e.g. “There are a lot of political reasons that the Soviets won the war…”. Then at the heart of any history essay is evidence, in this case gold bullion. But I’ve been trying to emphasise that bullion alone will only get you a D/C, you need the links, the bits after the evidence where you link it to the question explaining its relevance or significance.

conclusionFinally I’ve been going on for ages about the fact that you need to end an essay with a ‘kick ’em in the balls’ statement. There is no point leaving an essay on a damp squib “In conclusion, there were many factors…” Urgh. Punch ’em. Kick ’em. Make them remember you.

I really want a visual for introductions something which visualises both giving context and being really judgemental. Any ideas please comment below or tweet me!

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3 Responses to Visualising essay structures

  1. I think it’s great to show essay writing in a visual way. Essay writing is often only taught for the person with a linguistic mindset, but the reason so many struggle I feel is that we all learn differently.

    I personally take an approach to essays that is more iterative, like shaping and slowly refining clay. The actual process is that I write the rough draft as fast as I can based on an outline and then I go back and rearrange paragraphs, like I’m putting together an essay puzzle.

    How about you?

  2. Pingback: Literacy in History | The Kenradical School of History

  3. A Finemess says:

    It’s tricky isn’t it? We spend much of our time telling our able kids that History is a matter of balance and that the evidence should be weighed up and then we tell them that REALLY good essays give a clear and even controversial opinion! I had a poster in my room which stated “There is no ‘I’ in History”. Some wag had drawn an arrow to the “i” and written … “Yes there is!”. I suppose the solution is to develop their understanding of the use of evidence such that they can use a phrase such as “The evidence, for example …blah blah, clearly demonstrates that …

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