Why Everybody Ought to Know About Essay Packets

Students Learning, Parents Talking, Teachers Buzzing=The Essay Packet

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Essay Packet: a workbook for students that contains all the steps of the specific essay assignment included; life saver for the teacher of writing; communication method for parents

I just finished creating my research packets for both advanced and general english classes. Research is one of my favorite units to teach, but also it is the hardest due to the number of steps and the depth of the skills that are taught when it comes to finding information, citing information, and following up with MLA formatting. Some say that it is controversial that I am teaching 6th graders to use MLA format...I will save that for another post 

As I hit save on the final research packets and started to upload them to my blog for students to take a peek at, I thought back to why I started making essay packets in the first place. I was at the Alternative Middle School in my area and I was dealing with a number of complications that often slow down the teacher of writing. Some of these were:

  • Issue #1: frequent absences/issues with attendance

  • Issue #2: varying of levels of skill in one class period

  • Issue #3: movement/individual timing through the writing process

  • Issue #4: need for more parent communication

Let me explain some of these issues. Issue #1 was immediately resolved with the essay packet because I could mark individual placement in a larger class. Issue #2 and #3 were remedied by the same concept. I could have Student A working on their introduction and Student B working on their first body paragraph. Issue #4 didn't necessarily come out until I moved to a general education setting. I found that my parents at home were able to keep up with classwork more often when they could see the end in mind. This resulted in less parent phone calls and fewer parent emails about how Student C can understand ELA class a bit better. 

These packets have evolved throughout the course of the years. I have revised many of them, and continue to revise each of them as it pertains to subject matter. Here are some of the essay packets including the research ones I finished revising today:

Now that you have seen a few examples, I am wondering what you use for teaching essays! I know that there are many strategies for reaching all students of writing. Some teachers have students keep a portfolio. Some teachers like to have students use checklists or clips to move status updates on writing process marker boards. 

Writing Mindset Reflection Question: How do teachers keep all students on the same page? What do you like about essay packets? What don't you like?