Teaching a Quick Essay
501 Writing Prompts is a great book for teaching the skill of writing a short essay quickly to those homeschooling high school. We used 501 Writing Prompts regularly through Junior year. First I showed them the video on essay writing, from the "Advanced Communication Series." That step is not necessary if your child already knows how to write a short essay, but I wanted my children to have an overview. This is an excellent skill to prepare homeschoolers for college.
Once the skill was taught, we started practicing. More difficult than learning "how" is the actual "doing." Three days a week, right after lunch, I would give them a pencil and two pieces of notebook paper. I handed them a writing prompt from the book, and set the timer for 25 minutes. They knew they needed to write a brief, perhaps 5 word outline, on scratch paper. Then they had to start writing. At 25 minutes, I took the paper away, whether they were done or not. We did that three days a week for the entire Junior year.
True confessions time: I didn't grade the essays, my husband did. The book does make grading easy, because it has so many visual examples of what a good essay will look like. All their writing prompts with visual examples are in bold. Here is a link to download the book for free.
Look on page 5, question 24. See how it is in bold? That means they have examples of what that essay SHOULD look like - and what it shouldn't. Skip to page 27, and you will see that question again. This time it's followed by a perfect essay, score of 6, an average essay score of 4, and a really rotten essay with a score of 1. You can use the rubric provided on page 19, but I did better having a visual example. For that reason, it can be easier to start by using JUST the bold prompts until you become familiar with what a good essay looks like.