How to Write Your First Persuasive Essay

You might have heard of this elusive ‘essay,’ but have never had the pleasure of writing one. It may seem overwhelming or daunting, but trust us, it isn’t!  Essays are just a way to argue a point. A persuasive essay is even more fun because it is just a way to argue in order to convince someone that you are correct — and we all love to be correct!

Often teachers will introduce the format of an essay by asking students to write an opinion or persuasive essay. The typical format of an essay while in middle and high school is usually 5 paragraphs: an introduction paragraph, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion paragraph. So, before you start getting anxious, follow these 5 steps and conquer your first essay!

#1 Select a Side

Considering Both Sides

Sometimes it’s hard to pick a side when writing about a particular issue, but essays require us to argue for one side, and one side only. So, before you pick the side you think is the strongest, why not prove it to yourself by making a T-Chart. Write the two sides of the argument (sometimes this is pros vs. cons, but not always) at the top of the T-Chart. Then, try to come up with at least 3 arguments for each side. The side with the objectively best arguments should become the basis of your essay.

#2 Prepare Your Plan

Prepare a Plan

Graphic organizers are the best. Whether you are just mapping out the sub-arguments, or if you are filling out a graphic organizer in complete sentences, organizing your work is immensely helpful. The internet is full of amazing graphic organizers, so snoop around and find one that you love! We also love using Inspiration because it is so colourful and customize-able!

#3 Think Through Your Thesis

Think about your thesis

Your argument should be summed up in one sentence, and that sentence is called your thesis statement. The thesis statement is usually found in the last sentence of your introduction paragraph, and it provides your audience with a clear understanding of what your essay will be arguing. It’s okay to change the wording or specifics of your thesis in the revising and editing processes, but just make sure it reflects your central point.

#4 Provide Proof

A.P.E.: Argue, Prove, ExplainProof for an opinion essay comes in the form of common knowledge, real-world examples, and/or personal experiences. Each paragraph needs a least one piece of proof, and often has three pieces of proof that supports each body paragraph’s sub-argument. We suggest using the APE Strategy to ensure that you don’t forget to introduce your proof and explain how it supports your overall argument.

#5 Revise and Edit

Revision and Editing

Revision and editing is the last step of all written expression, and for good reason. This step is crucial because you can catch silly little mistakes you might have made along the way. We recommend reading your essay out loud. You can choose to read it out loud to yourself, or to a friend or family member. We also recommend that you check for homonyms and other word errors while you’re proofreading. Common word errors are: their/there/they’re, affect/effect, then/than, and accept/except.

Still think you need some assistance with your writing?  Contact Ruth Rumack’s Learning Space to inquire about our newly developed online Essay Coach Program to help!  You’ll be introduced to each of these strategies and more during our extensive, skill-based essay writing programs. We offer online one-on-one, as well as group classes. 

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Navigating the First Essay of the Year

It’s that time of year again. The leaves are starting to change colour, the weather is getting cooler, and you’re settling into your new school year routine.

As September speeds along, school work picks up again and, in the back of your head, you know that sooner or later you’re going to be asked to write a dreaded… dun dun dun… ESSAY! Don’t sweat. Even if essays are totally not your thing, we’re here to help with some helpful strategies to get you through the first essay of the year.

#1 Create Soft Due Dates

Soft Due Dates

As soon as you get the assignment, start planning out when you will work on it and what you need to do to complete the task. Give yourself lots of time. Do not write it the night before. Use a calendar or an agenda and give yourself ‘soft due dates.’ For example, you could make sure that you complete the outline two weeks before the hard due date (when you will need to submit it to your teacher).

 #2 Check Your Thesis

If this is your first essay of the year, or if this is your first essay ever, make sure that you have a thesis! We recommend asking your teacher before you finish your essay outline if he/she approves of your thesis. That way if your teacher thinks you should change it, you won’t have to rewrite everything! The thesis is the heart of your essay, so it is crucial for your success. Remember: ‘thesis’ is just a fancy word for argument, and most teachers want to find your thesis statement in the last sentence of your introduction.

#3 Ask Questions

Asking Questions

Your teacher is new to you, and you are new to your teacher. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! From an educator’s perspective, we LOVE when students come to us and ask questions. It shows that you are motivated, trying, and engaged!  Teachers are a wealth of knowledge and are always there to help.

#4 Proofread

Spelling error correction in writing

Give yourself lots of time by setting soft due dates and, whatever you do, don’t forget to proofread!  It’s so incredibly important and you’ll be amazed at the silly mistakes you’ll find. We always suggest reading your essay out loud while you proofread because it’ll be easier to catch awkward sentences, omitted words, and repeated ideas or words.

Here at RRLS we offer incredibly thorough programs that teach the essay writing process so that students not only leave with a finished product, but they also leave with pertinent writing skills they will use for the rest of their lives. We offer three different Essay Coach Programs: opinion essays, literary essays, and research essays. 

5 Ways to Help Prepare Your Teen for High School

hallwayHeading to high school is a big step. It’s a new chapter in your teen’s life with  new teachers, new classes, new hallways, new expectations… and that can be intimidating. Too many kids are totally unprepared for what awaits them at their new school in the fall and so their first experiences can be stressful.

We suggest that you help your recent elementary grads by sprinkling in some hidden skill-building fun while basking in the summer sun!  It’ll ease the stress of September and build confidence!


Write More!Creative

Letters might be a lost art, but I’m calling for a revival. There is nothing better than the joy of finding a letter in the mailbox. Encourage your teen to write postcards and letters while on trips or when visiting Grandma and Grandpa. Note: Texting doesn’t count as a letter.

Daily writing can be therapeutic. Suggest writing in a journal nightly. Learning to express yourself clearly through writing is a valuable life skill, so the content doesn’t really matter, it’s all about the effort. Sometimes kids need a little encouragement, so here are some summer journaling ideas from Simple as That.


Get an agenda

At the beginning of the school year, most schools will either provide each student with an agenda or one will be available to purchase.  However, many kids don’t know how to use it. Getting into a routine of using a calendar or an agenda is incredibly helpful for people of all ages, and summer is the perfect time to start.  Encourage your teen to begin by adding all of the fun stuff — camp, sleepovers, birthdays, trips — and then add tasks or chores they are responsible for. Check in once a week to see how they’re doing!


Visit the school

If your teen is expressing some anxiety about not knowing where things are in a new school, take a tour! Most schools are still open a week after the last day of school, and a week before the first day of school.  Squelch worry by brainstorming ways to make new friends, and how to ask for help from teachers!


Read… Anything!8435321969_c1eea0631a_o

This just in: reading books in the summer doesn’t cause allergic reactions! Not a single hive or rash to be found. Incredible news, right? Reading is a great way to relax, and a fantastically fun way to exercise those brain muscles. It doesn’t matter if your teen is reading Shakespeare’s folio or a favourite sci-fi author — just keep reading. Lead by example by bringing a book to the beach or have dedicated reading time at night.

Need some book suggestions? Check out our blog, Throwback Summer Reads — Tween Edition for some great titles.


Hone Those Skills

If your teen had trouble last year academically in any area or lacks confidence, find a program this summer that will help build the skills needed  boost confidence. Don’t wait until the middle of the school year!  There are so many wonderful programs and academic summer camps that foster and develop foundational skills.  Of course it is hard to hit the books while on summer vacation, but spending a week learning how to organize an essay will save your teen (and you!), from a lot of unnecessary stress during the year.

Don’t forget to get outside this summer and explore. Some of the best learning comes from exploring the world around you. Remember to enjoy your vacation — it doesn’t last forever, so make every second count.

There are a plethora of fantastic programs  and one-on-one classes offered by Ruth Rumack’s Learning Space to help your teen hone skills before high school. This summer we are offering two essay coach camps where teens can build the necessary essay-writing skills to help them confidently tackle any essay a teacher throws their way! Happy learning!

5 Strategies to Help Prepare for University

The change between high school and university is dramatic, no matter where you go to school. Many high school students feel a mix of excitement, stress, and fear in the months leading up to post-secondary.

Ease your anxiety by preparing for university with these five strategies:


Organize

Agenda
Agendas help to keep you organized!

Get a calendar or an agenda and start using it, daily. Incorporate it into your daily routine. Check your calendar when you wake up and when you hit the hay. Add appointments, dates with friends, and upcoming trips or events.  That way, when you get your syllabuses for your classes you can easily enter that information into an existing calendar.

If you don’t like using the antiquated method of paper and pen, look into calendar apps for your  smart phone. The teachers at RRLS are fond of iCal and Google Calendar.


Read 

Read with a buddy!
Read with a buddy!

Keep your thought-box in tip-top condition by reading a lot – all summer. Definitely pick books that pique your interest, but remember to challenge yourself by reading books with some unfamiliar vocabulary — it’s good exercise for that brain!

If you are taking classes in the humanities, try to find last year’s reading list. Professors usually choose a lot of the same books from year to year, so check it out and get a head start! It’ll save you a lot of time during the school year and your future self will definitely thank you.


Write 

Don’t let those writing skills of yours wane over the summer break — you will need them when September comes, no matter what your discipline of study is. We encourage you to journal about anything that interests you, blog about new movies, apps, or games, or write short annotations or opinion pieces about articles you’ve read recently. If you’re feeling really ambitious, write essays!


Goal-set

Take a day and honestly reflect on what you want to get out of your university experience. Make sure your goals are SMART (Specific, Attainable,  Relevant, Time-bound) and that you set a plan for how to achieve them. A good goal might be to improve your study habits, but unless you know how to do that, it’ll be frustratingly unattainable.


Strengthen Skills 

Tutoring
Foster the necessary skills over the summer

Taking the summer to fine-tune and foster important academic skills is smart. When you get to university, professors will expect you to already know how to research and write papers without being provided with scaffolding or graphic organizers. If you feel your skills aren’t up to snuff, or if you feel instant anxiety when you hear the phrase, 2000 word essay, find a program that will help you foster your writing skills before the school year begins!

The Essay Coach is a fantastic, online essay writing course designed to strengthen your essay-writing skills.  You work with a certified teacher one-on-one and leave with new strategies, skills, resources to use in the future, and a finished, polished essay! We are also offering group classes this summer. Contact us for more information. 

New Online Essay Coach Program From Ruth Rumack’s Learning Space Teaches College, High-School and Junior High Students How to Leverage Critical Thinking to Create Superior Essays

Taught by Certified and Experienced English Teachers, Students Receive Professional Online Coaching on How to Think About and Write College Common Application, Literary, Opinion, and Research Essays

By Ruth Rumack

Toronto, Ontario – For parents, teachers and school guidance counselors seeking professional essay counseling services for their students, Ruth Rumack’s Learning Space (RRLS) is now providing a seasoned team of experienced educators to coach students through the essay-writing process. Students learn how to write superior college common apps, literary, opinion and research essays. Click here to sign up.

The Essay Coach is a face-to-face, online teaching program designed to develop critical thinking skills and a thorough understanding of the essay-writing process for students in Grades 7 through 12, and those attending leading universities and community colleges.

Ruth Rumack Learning Space Essay Coach
Ruth Rumack Learning Space Essay Coach

Ruth Rumack’s Essay Coaches are experienced, certified teachers who instill students with the strategic thinking, research, and writing skills they need, not only to succeed on individual assignments, but also to become confident, capable writers in all areas of their lives. During the online coaching sessions, personal Essay Coaches encourage students to become discerning researchers; demonstrate how to structure ideas and research notes into well-thought out, organized theses or persuasive arguments; and teach them how to use APA, MLA or Chicago style citations to deliver written essays with impeccable grammar and formatting.

“Our Essay Coach program is a life-changer for kids who want to be the best students they can be, but need precise instruction in order to blaze a path toward successful writing,” says Ruth Rumack, RRLS’ Director of Education. “Parents also enjoy using our service as a buffer to have someone from outside of the family circle who can establish a structured and systematic approach to writing, which inspires self-discipline in the student, and relieves stress within the family. Our program is not a quick-fix; we are not an essay-writing service. Rather, we build a student’s writing skills for a lifetime of success.”

More information on Ruth Rumack’s Essay Coaching Services:

All lessons are delivered via Adobe Connect web conferencing service, which does not require any software downloads! It is as easy as clicking on a single link! Students can see, hear, and collaborate with their RRLS Essay Coaches in real time.

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Common Essay Types You’ll Encounter in High School

Essay
Credit: Depositphotos

Last week we gave you a few definitions for essay jargon that you might hear your English teacher use. We hope that you found our simple explanations helpful and that you are now ready to tackle more! We discussed that an essay is just the written expression of an argument. Today we’ll explore a few types of essays that you’ll most likely encounter before graduating high school.

The Persuasive Essay 

This is the most common type of essay you will encounter in high school.  You argue a central point in order to persuade your reader. You prove your point  by providing research that supports your argument in a persuasive manner. You will need to use quotations or paraphrase your research in the body of your essay and cite these sources.

A persuasive essay might be about why homework should be abolished.

The Argumentative Essay 

This is an essay that is incredibly similar to a persuasive essay, but research is not always necessary.  You argue your opinion by exploring the pros and cons of an issue and arguing why your opinion is correct. You still want to back up your opinion by providing evidence, but you should be looking at both sides.

An argumentative essay might be about the pros and cons of going to school five days a week.

 The Analytical Essay 

This is an essay you will most likely encounter in English class. You will need to analyze a work of literature by looking at the literary devices and themes in the text. This type of essay will require the use of quotations and examples from the text(s) as evidence or proof of your argument.

An analytical essay might analyze how love is represented in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

The Expository Essay 

This is an essay that is usually a personal response to something.  You could be asked to discuss an issue or theme of an event, work of literature, debate, etc.

An expository essay might be your personal reaction to the anti-homework parade you attended.

Researching for an essay
Credit: Depositphotos

There are many types of essays and we recognize that it’s hard to keep them all straight. At RRLS we have created an essay-writing support program that is online and face-to-face.  Our certified teachers can help you tackle any type of essay.  We divide our essay types Opinion, Research, Literary, and Application Essays.  

Know Your Essay Jargon!

Teachers often assume that you know how to write an essay, and that you understand what they mean when they drop words like, “thesis statement.” It can be really discouraging and frustrating to hear terms you don’t understand.  Today we’ll take a look at some common English Teacher Essay Jargon and we’ll provide you with simple explanations for each!

Essay

Dun dun dun. When you hear the word, does your fight or flight instinct kick in?  Well, take a deep breath, it’s just a fancy word for a piece of writing that proves an argument. There, that wasn’t so bad, right?  Next time you hear the word “essay” you can just smirk to yourself and remember that it’s just the written form of those heated debates you have with yourself in the shower.

Thesis Statement  

calvin-susieAh yes, the thesis statement.  A thesis statement is simply your main argument that you are proving in your essay. A thesis statement can be as simple as, “Dogs are better pets than cats.”  You are just explaining what your argument is, and then you argue it. Where’s that “EASY” button?

Body

“Make sure you include that in the bodyofyouressay,” said Mr. Unhelpful as the bell rang and the students ran out of class. So we know that an essay is a piece of writing that argues something, and now it is alive with a body?  Does it have arms and legs too? Not quite. The body of your essay is the part between your introduction and conclusion paragraphs.  The body is where you argue your points to convince your reader that you are right.  In a five-paragraph essay, the body will consist of three paragraphs.

Citing

Essay-Writing-for-Dummies-Basic-Techniques-n-TipsWhat is this mysterious word, ‘citing?’  The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines cite as, “to write or say the words of (a book, author, etc.).”  Citing, most simply, refers to any content that you use in your essay that is not written by you. You use citations (quotations and paraphrased information) in the body of your essay to prove your argument. Knowing what citations means helps you to understand what a “Works Cited” page is.

Works Cited

A Works Cited page comes at the end of your essay.  It is a list of information of where your reader can find the texts (works) you cited in the body of your essay. A Works Cited page is required when using MLA formatting, but we’ll cover different types of essay formatting styles at a later date.

Essays can come in all shapes and sizes, and next week, we’ll tackle some different types of essays.

Essays are tough, but we can help.  RRLS is launching an online, face-to-face Essay Coach program designed to help students develop the skills necessary to tackle essays. Our Essay Coaches are experienced, certified teachers that work with students one-on-one.