expository · non-narrative writing · nurturing · paragraphing · personal essay

Boxes & Bullets: Framing Personal Essays

In order to keep my demonstrations fresh, I’ve come to believe that I have to craft a NEW piece of writing each and every year for units I’ve taught in the past. If I don’t, then I find my teaching becomes stale. Plus, I believe kids can sense when their teacher is recycling and old piece of writing.

I was creating my news & announcements charts (Morning Meeting) for the upcoming week this morning. I began creating Monday’s chart and found myself framing my new essay right on to the chart paper. (Hence the reason there are so many strips of white correction tape visible on image you see here.) I decided to try a more complex thesis statement this year since many of my students really pushed themselves to craft heavy-duty thesis statements thanks to the graphic organizer I provided them with yesterday.

It’s hard work to create a strong thesis statement for a demo that has reasons that match. I took a crack at it on the chart, but will be showing the kids how I revised it by the time the Writing Minilesson arrives. I want them to see that you can clarify your thinking and make reasons really match a thesis statement by revising even before you start to actually write (an essay).

I used boxes and bullets to help me frame my essay. The box contains my thesis statement/claim. The bullet points contain the topic sentences for each of the body paragraphs I plan to write when I craft my essay. As you can imagine, I repeated the stem of my thesis and the word “reason” in all of my bulleted statements since I’ve found that repetition helps kids when they’re framing their essays.

8 thoughts on “Boxes & Bullets: Framing Personal Essays

  1. Thanks for your kind words about DEAL WITH IT Mindy. That is so kind of you.

    It was a blast. Something I don’t think I’ll ever be able to replicate. The girls I had the chance to work with were incredible. It’s hard to believe they’re in junior high school now!


  2. I just got Deal With It. It is great for me since I don’t have any mentor essays from previous year. What great writing and what fun you must have had leading the girls through it.


  3. Starmax:

    We’ve had a lot of trouble with comments going to Spam that should’ve been posted. Perhaps yours was spammed. We try to check the spam comments a lot since many REAL comments go there (e.g., Poetry Friday Commenters often go there.), but alas, when there’s such a high volume of spam comments (about 50/day), we often miss some. My apologies if yours got deleted with the spams.



  4. I believe too that to create each unit, lesson (year) is the only way to stay fresh. An side: I’ve been posting and commenting for years on the net. YOu are the first to ever delete a comment I left. Why?


  5. Terri:

    I’m not authorized to share my students’ writing in this forum. My apologies.

    The best I can do is refer you to DEAL WITH IT, the book that my students published in 2007. That contains several personal essays. (And the proceeds from the book go to my former school’s visiting author fund.)

    Hope that helps,


  6. Do you have any samples of student writing to share? Writing that you would consider as on grade level? Our standard score of “3” means on grade level in our district. I am trying to gauge what others think is average and great writing for my grade (5th).


  7. Thanks for sharing! It is always nice to see how other teachers help their students organize their writing. I truly look forward each day to read ing your posts! You are helping me be a better teacher and a better writer. Thanks


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