Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Easy Essays Step 1

Dawn Capes
Bay District Schools


This is the first lesson of a three-step Unit Plan: Easy Essays in Three Steps, designed to guide teachers through teaching the five-paragraph essay to students.


The student organizes information before writing according to the type and purpose of writing.

The student drafts and revises writing that -is focused, purposeful, reflects insight into the writing situation;-conveys a sense of completeness and wholeness with adherence to the main idea;-has an organizational pattern that provide for a logical progression of ideas;-has support that is substantial, specific, revelant, concrete, and/or illustrative;-demonstrates a commitment to and an involvement with the subject;-has clarity in presentation of ideas;uses creative writing strategies appropriate to the purpose of the paper;demonstrates a command of language (word choice) with freshness of expression;has varied sentence structure and sentences that are complete except when fragments are used and purposefully; andhas few, if any, convention errors in mechanics, usage, and punctuation.

The student selects and uses appropriate formats for writing, including narrative, persuasive, and expository formats, according to the intended audience, purpose, and occasion.


-Work folders for students
-Chart paper/markers
-Copies of handouts (see Associated File)
-Transparency of the handout, Brainstorm (see Associated File)
-Index cards with student scores on them (See Extensions)
-Sample student essays. Obtained from Florida Writes! Report on the Assessment. These should be available at your school, or you may contact the county office or go to .
-Florida Writes! Adapted Rubric (see Associated File and Teacher Preparation for more information)


Note: Prior to beginning this lesson, the Diagnostic Assessment should be administered and scored with each student's score written on a separate index card.)

1. Make copies of handouts. Be sure to have at least two copies of the Brainstorm per student.

2. Make transparency of the handout,Brainstorm (see Associated File).

3. Obtain a copy of the Florida Writes Report (see Materials section). Create a Packet A of expository essays which needs to contain four essays (suggested scores 6, 3, 4, and 2). The score and scoring information should be cut off the bottom. Arrange essays in no particular order but number them 1-4. Prepare at least one packet per child/or one classroom set. (This can be reused from year to year)

4. From the same book which was used to collect the expository essays, create a Packet B of persuasive essays. This time provide only four essays. Suggested scoring levels: 5, 3, 3, and 2. Arrange them in no particular order and label them 1-4. Prepare at least one packet per child/or one classroom set. (This can be reused from year to year.)

A. Create an Adapted Florida Writes! Rubric for grades 6-8. This will need to be done prior to beginning the diagnostic. It will be helpful to have a simplified rubric to use when scoring student essays.
B. You will need to download (or get from your Florida Writes! Report, a copy of the rubric). It will be in paragraph form. This is hard to read and harder still to score by. If you will take a look at the Adapted Grade 4 rubric (in the attached file) and the Grade 4 rubric from the Florida Writes! book, you will see how the important information from the book was transferred into a more readable version, the Adapted rubric. It is HIGHLY suggested that you take the time to create a grade 8 rubric. (It can also be used with grades 6 and 7.) Once it is created, it can be used multiple times. One has been started for you in the attached files. By creating this Adapted rubric, you will be breaking down the rubric into its simplest form, thereby affording you the opportunity to learn more about it.

6. It is suggested that the teacher store student work in folders so that their growth from beginning to end can be noted and charted.


(This unit, Easy Essays, can be done as either a review for students who already understand the process, or it can be used for students whose diagnostic tests have shown a need for instruction. The unit may take slightly longer if students have had no instruction in essay writing. Also- this unit focuses on the 5 paragraph format as one option that a student can choose to use.)

Note: On Day One of the unit, the diagnostic assessment should be administered and assessed. It is suggested the diagnostic be administered on a Friday to allow time to score the essays.

Note: The Florida Writes! referred to in this unit is the essay portion of the FCAT test.

Day Two of the unit, Easy Essays
Scoring Anchor Papers
1. Prior to beginning the day's lesson, explain to students that their diagnostic assessments have been used to create a plan of action in the studying of essays. Explain that the diagnostics are merely to see where students are at this point in the essay writing process. Tell them the essays will be returned at the end of the class period and then placed in their work folders.

2. Inform students that they will now be getting valuable practice in using the rubric which was used to score their diagnostic assessments. By using the rubric to assess papers and seeing what the papers actually scored, students will be able to :
*See what actual test papers have scored and compare that score to students' opinions of the score and discuss why there's a difference
*Review the criteria of the rubric.
*See samples of student work and compare them to the rubric.
Students will be exposed to expository and persuasive essays and see levels of essays ranging from 2-6 when scored according to the Florida Writes! Rubric.

3. Have students take out a piece of paper and writing utensil. Then, pass out Packet A. Read essay 1 and have students write down the score they think the paper should receive. Allow students to share their scores and then share the real score. Share the reasoning behind the score. (This is located in the Florida Writes! book along with the score at the bottom of each essay.) Allow students to continue this activity with each essay in packets A and B. Each time the actual score is revealed, read the scoring information to the student and refer them back to the rubric. The purpose of the activity is for students to make the connection between the rubric and an example, see the connection between writings that have and have not been organized appropriately according to type and purpose, be provided an example of essays that are focused, complete, organized, supportive, clear, etc. (Essays scoring high will reveal themselves to be organized according to their type and purpose; while lower scoring essays will lack organization and attention to type and purpose.)

4. Before students turn in their paper with scores on them, have students write a short paragraph explaining what they saw in the higher scoring papers that made them score well. Have students turn in their work. Formatively assess student work. Students should note items, such as focus, organization, complete, supportive, clearly written, appropriate word choice, varied sentence structure, and few convention errors. Students should be able to mention many of these items. Please note those who do not mention these items, but instead focus on other things, such as handwriting, margins, neatness, etc, as they may need additional assistance.

5. Pass back the Diagnostic Assessment for students to note scores. Put work in student's work folder.

Day Three of the unit, Easy Essays
1. Talk to students about preparation and why it is important. (I usually speak to students about going on a trip. I tell them that if they didn't prepare for the trip they might be in a little trouble. If they go into their closet ten minutes before they are leaving for the trip and just throw stuff into a suitcase and close it up, they might get a big surprise when they unpack. How much use would a sweater be at Grandma's house on the beach in July? How much use would a fancy dress be camping?)

2. Now, relate this idea of preparation to writing an essay. Just like planning for a trip, you need to plan/organize for writing an essay. Discuss why planning is important. (Possible answers: It helps to remember everything and to be organized). Pass out the rubric and point out portions: writing is focused, purposeful, and sense of completeness.

3. Next, I usually remind students that the first thing they want to do is read the prompt carefully. They need to be able to determine the purpose of their essays. Will they be writing an expository essay or persuasive essay? (It may be necessary to review what the difference between the two is.) The prompt they will receive from Florida Writes will have two sections. The Writing Situation gives information about the prompt. Students should read this carefully, as it will give important information to consider. The second section, Directions for Writing, will explain how to write the essay and may also give more clues.

4. Pass out the handout labeled, Brainstorm (see Associated File) and display the transparency of the handout. Point out all sections and areas of interest on the brainstorm sheet. Make sure the students understand the main idea, reasons, and details. (The teacher may want to list these definitions on chart paper that can be posted in the room.)

5. Tell students that you will be filling in the brainstorm as a class using a practice prompt. Inform students that what you write, they will write.

6. Pass out the handout labeled, Practice Prompt One (see Associated File). Remind the students that they must read the prompt carefully. How can they determine if they have an expository or persuasive essay? What key words can they find? Model this for students as you read the prompt together. Discuss and make sure all students understand the prompt.

7. Now, fill in the brainstorm together. (Time may only allow for the Introduction and Supporting Paragraph One and Conclusion to be modeled.) The class will want to discuss different possible reasons and decide together which ones they could say the most about in the middle paragraphs. Have students think about whether they had enough to say about the idea and also decide if the three reasons were different enough from each other so that they didn't repeat each other.

8. Remind students of the following musts:
They must read the prompt carefully.
They've got to pack before they write.
The brainstorm must be filled in completely before they begin writing their essays.

9. Give students the handout labeled, Practice Prompt 2 and another handout labeled, Brainstorm (see Associated File).

10. Have them read the prompt carefully and fill out the brainstorm on their own.

11. Students turn in the brainstorm. Assess the brainstorm using the handout labeled, Brainstorm Rubric (see Associated File).

12. If student's brainstorm is not acceptable, figure out where the weaknesses are and reteach accordingly. Ideas for reteaching include grouping non-successful students with successful students and providing another prompt for practice. Students could work with partners in filling out the brainstorm.


Note: LAB233 is only being reviewed in this lesson.

Formative Assessment is continual and ongoing thoughout the course of the two days of this lesson. Students should be able to understand that organization is key and that type and purpose of writing must be considered. The teacher should question students individually, as well as large group in order to understand who understands the concept and who does not.

A brainstorm rubric is used to decide if students have learned how to brainstorm effectively for this particular model of essay. They either CAN do the brainstorm effectively or they CANNOT.

Students need to be able to do this step effectively in order to continue with the essay-writing process. If they are having problems doing this, then more instruction is necessary.


1. One extension could be to offer different pre-writing strategies, such as outlines, webs or clusters. Then, students could have the freedom to choose the brainstorm which works best for them. Also, this lesson can be used with 6th, 7th, or 8th graders. If using with 6th and 7th graders, a "mock" test may be used to establish student readiness for the 8th grade Florida Writes! The mock test would be given just like the Florida Writes test is given following scripted directions, time allocations, and scoring.

2. The Beacon Unit Plan associated with this lesson can be viewed by clicking on the link located at the top of this page or by using the following URL: Once you select the unitís link, scroll to the bottom of the unit plan page to find the section, Associated Files. This section contains links to the Unit Plan Overview, Diagnostic and Summative Assessments, and other associated files (if any).

Web Links

Web supplement for Easy Essays Step One
Florida Writes Rubric

Attached Files

This file contains the handouts referenced in this lesson.     File Extension: pdf

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