Planning A Discussion Essay

Before you start writing your essay, it is important that you plan it. Below is an example of what an essay plan should look like (including explanations and tips), and how much detail it should contain. You can use this as a guide for your essay plans.

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Essay Question: Was the Russian Revolution a genuine revolution or was it a coup?

Word Limit: 2,000 words

Introduction (10% of word limit): 200 words

Introductions should never be longer than 500 words, so this 10% guide only applies to essays shorter than 5,000 words.

To be considered an Introduction, an Introduction must do two things:

Answer the question – It was a genuine revolution.
This must be done first. An Introduction must answer the question. This is how you put forward a strong argument.

List the evidence your essay will put forward to prove your answer – This can be seen through an examination of the sections of society which supported the revolution. workers, peasants, soldiers, national minorities. Any major topic or subject that you plan to discuss in your essay must be introduced in the Introduction.

Body of the Essay: 400 words each

How long you spend writing about each subject should reflect the importance of each subject. If all four topics are of equal importance, write roughly the same amount of words on each. If a topic is more important, write about it first and write more words on it. If a topic is less important, write about it last and write fewer words on it.

Topic 1: workers

Topic 2: peasants

Topic 3: soldiers

Topic 4:  national minorities

Conclusion (10% of word limit): 200 words

Conclusions should never be longer than 500 words, so this 10% guide only applies to essays shorter than 5,000 words.

To be considered a Conclusion, a Conclusion must do two things:

Answer the essay question again (using different words than in the Introduction, don’t repeat yourself exactly) –  It was a genuine revolution.

Recap (repeat, summaries) all the evidence you have given to prove your answer during your essay– workers, peasants, soldiers, national minorities

A conclusion must not contain any new information, you are only summarising what you have already written.

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 As with any genre of writing it is important to grab the reader’s attention from the outset, and discussion texts are no different. Fortunately, there are a number of tried and tested methods of achieving this. Here are a few that may be suitable openers for your students’ discussion writing:

●     open with a quotation relevant to the topic being addressed. A well-chosen quotation can grab the attention of even the most distracted of reader and compel them to read more!

●     a surprising fact is another great way to grab the reader’s attention and illuminate the topic that is to be discussed. Not only is it engaging, but informative too!

●     a joke. Everyone loves a laugh and a joke can provide an excellent in to the student’s writing. But, encourage your students to be careful here, the suitability of a humorous opening will largely depend on the topic being discussed. As jokes may not always be appropriate to the material they must be used wisely.

The Arguments

In writing a balanced argument, it is important that students consider the positive and negatives of the issue. The body of the text should be focused on presenting the pros and cons, the for and against arguments, relating to the central issue. This is why the oral starter activities can be so useful as pre-writing exercises.

After the student has laid out the topic in their introduction by providing the necessary background information, it is time for the student to consider laying out the case for the argument.

The use of time connectives is a great way for students to organize their information. Adverbs of time, such as firstly, secondly, next, then etc and phrases such as, in addition to, therefore etc can be a great help for students to structure their information chronologically and coherently.

Depending on the length of the text, it is normally recommended that each paragraph consists of a single point. It is important to remind students that in the presentation of a balanced argument they should not express their own bias, or even their own point of view, rather they are laying out both sides of the argument for the reader and should give equal weight to each point of view. When exploring each point, whether for or against, the PEE method can be a helpful way to aid students in structuring their paragraphs and to give their arguments direction:

P = Point (Student makes their point at the beginning of the paragraph)

E = Evidence (Student provides evidence that underpins this point)

E =Explain (Student explores point further and ties back to the central issue)

When the student has considered each of their points for the argument, for example three separate paragraphs each making three separate points for the argument, it is now time to consider, and do the same for, the argument against. The purpose here is to set up an opposition to the previously made points; to offer the other side of the story.

Encourage students here to use words and phrases that set up this contrast, for example, however, contrastingly, on the other hand, etc. Displaying these words and phrases in a word bank can also be a great way to help weaker students to organize their writing.

Conclusion

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