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Guide to Writing a Basic Essay by Kathy Livingston


Activity Description

Essay Writing
Source: Guide to Writing a Basic Essay page (License: Protected by Copyright (c) [i.e. screenshot])

This site takes a student through the basic steps of writing an essay.



  1. Preview the Web Site (link below) to decide how you want to handle the topic.
  2. Decide if you want to assign a writing topic or let students choose one. (If your students are planning on taking the High School Equivalency test, it might be good practice to have them work with an assigned topic.)
  3. The Example Document, Guide to Writing a Basic Essay (above) will help students take notes while you go over the Web site as a class. Print it for students to write on during the discussion.
  4. The Example Web Site link (above) will take you to a sample essay from the Web site.


  1. Assign a writing topic to your students or let them choose one of their own. If they are choosing their own topic you may need to help them focus a very broad topic on a more narrow one, unless they are doing an overview.
  2. Hand out the Example Document, Guide to Writing a Basic Essay (above). This will help the students take notes as you go over the steps in writing an essay. Cover the basics of writing an essay: organizing ideas, composing a thesis statement, writing the body paragraphs developing the main idea, and writing the introduction and concluding paragraphs. You can cover these as a basic step-by-step presentation for class, or the site can be a resource for higher level students to access on their own.
  3. Another useful tool is the ReadWriteThink Essay Map which may also help your students organize their essay topics. The print version is found in Example Documents above.

Teacher Tips

  • Decide if the material is at the appropriate level for class.
  • Materials can be downloaded and used as print materials, or students can work through material on their own or in pairs using the online version.

More Ways

  • To include more technology use, have students use a computer with a word processing program to create their essay. Pre-teach word processing skills such as formatting text, touch-typing, file saving and printing.
  • Another possibility would be to put the finished product on a class or individual blog site, so other students can read their essay.
  • Under Links there are a multitude of other Web resources for essay writing that may be helpful.

Program Areas

  • ASE: High School Equivalency Preparation
  • ABE: Adult Basic Education
  • ASE: High School Diploma
  • CTE: Career Technical Education


  • Intermediate
  • High



  • Language Arts - Writing
    • Writing Conventions
  • Reasoning Through Language Arts
    • Essays
    • Mechanics (Capitalization, Punctuation, Spelling)
    • Organization
  • Writing
    • Mechanics (Capitalization, Punctuation, Spelling)
    • Paragraph Skills
    • Report Writing

CTE Sectors

  • Information and Communication Technologies

CTE Anchor Standards

  • Anchor Standard 4: Technology - Writing Standard: Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products in response to ongoing feedback, including new arguments and information.
  • Anchor Standard 10: Technical Knowledge and Skills - Writing Standard: Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products in response to ongoing feedback, including new arguments or information.


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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN220124 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.