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What's Been Happening, and, Introducing a New Line of Resources for Writing Essays!

An ancient Chinese curse says, if I have it correct, "May you live in interesting times." Well, we all certainly do live in interesting times today! School districts, as well as entire nations in some cases, are still trying to work out how to best serve our students in the coming months as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Yet, here in the States, professional sports are returning and reopening, which begs a question: how are the football players going to huddle up while maintaining social distancing? Let alone the fans? The players may wear face shields on their helmets, which may help, but the fans? You can't even get them to keep their clothes on when it's snowing in the stadium! Do we really believe they will keep masks on? And will they really remain 6 feet apart? And how will you drink your beer and eat your hot dogs with a mask on? "Get hots! Get 'cher Red Hots!" Riiight...

I have returned to Texas from Tennessee, and I have to say that it is good to be back! Just wish Suzanne were here with me. I did get to get into my new classroom for a meeting with one of my mentors and APs yesterday - thanks, Jeff! So I feel a lot better about the start of the school year. We will begin a week later than normal, and all online initially in my district. After a month (plus or minus a week), we will go to a hybrid of online remote learning and in class learning, which we expect to be about 50% of our students. As a first year interventionist - 8th year teaching - I am still stressing about how I will get to work with my students one-on-one during the first phase, but we will figure it out!

One great thing, and this is a shout out to my Teacher-Author Entrepreneur support group friends, I learned a new digital skill over the last week or so! In order to better meet the needs of online learning, and due to a complaint about our using the word FRAMEs in our Writing with FRAMEs line, I have learned how to make editable/fillable PDF forms! I also revisited the Writing with FRAMEs resources, and comments from customers, and have revamped the old format. So, we have released the first in our new line of essay writing resources! The line is Mapping Essays with Templates. Thanks to Michael De Main of the Wheel for the Template recommendation, and Gregg Williams of Amped Up Learning who suggested the same use of Templates. These guys independently suggested using Templates, and who am I to argue when great minds think alike? So, without further ado, ELA in Middle School proudly presents:

Mapping Essays with Templates is available on
Amped Up Learning, The Wheel Edu, and Teachers Pay Teachers
Use our Linktree to select your preferred store!

The price of the resource is $4 (US) on any of the storefronts, AUL, The Wheel Edu, or TpT. It is a fully digital resource, and can be used remotely by uploading as a fillable PDF, or in person either as a PDF or by printing out and creating hard copies. The resource includes:

  • Two Versions of the Mapping Essays with Templates PDFs –
  • One with a completed Teacher/Master Essay Example
  • One editable for you to create your own Master Essay
  • Both are fully Digital and Fillable for use with on-line learning platforms such as Google Classroom
  • PDFs are ready for printing as well, so you can either upload to your school platform for distance or remote learning, or you can print and go for in-person classroom teaching!
  • Teachers Notes for implementation

Each of the different Mapping Essays with Templates begins with the WHY. Specifically, why are we using this format and writing package? After all, handing a student a 12-page packet, or having them open a 12-page fillable PDF, seems very intimidating! So, when they understand that a lot of the information in the packet is designed to DEMONSTRATE to them how to create an essay, it alleviates a lot of the concern!

This Template, for writing Personal Narratives or Essays, is broken into three major sections: outlining and preparation; writing a first draft; and then writing a completed and (hopefully) polished essay. The outlining and preparation section begins with a quick analysis of a sample writing prompt, a take on one that our students see all too often, but that they still struggle with. We do a fast analysis of what the sample prompt is asking for, then space is provided for the student to write/enter the prompt you have given them and instructions for how to analyze it. This is a great chance for an “I do, We do” lesson if you are doing this in person or in an online meeting format such as Zoom or Google Meets! We then walk through how to create a fast and simple outline for an essay.

The second major section is on the actual writing of a first draft. As I explain what goes into each paragraph, I demonstrate by writing a personal narrative/memoir of my own that answers the prompt. This is a REAL essay that I am writing as I walk the students through the process! In addition to sharing my experience with the students (which makes a connection to them), I also analyze in the first paragraph a successful buried hook, and WHY I choose to use this. In the body paragraphs we look at sensory details, and also natural transitions to move their writing from formulaic writing patterns on “First, second, then, next, finally” transitions. There is nothing wrong with using those formula transitions, but let’s be honest – our kids can do better!

Finally, I trick them. The last three pages are for the students to rewrite their essays, allegedly to “get rid of what I did” and they can turn it in. This is a perfect opportunity for you to have them edit and revise, or peer edit for revisions! Feel free to grab our FREE editing and revising checklists for this!

You may also check out the free preview available by clicking this link! I will have the second title in this line active by the end of the weekend, so watch for Mapping Essays with Templates: The Persuasive Essay!


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