The ideas below are not in any order of importance. You will need to select which ones you can use with your class. You may need to simplify the suggested ideas, as well.
Each idea may need you to teach a lesson on it with you actually demonstrating how to go about it, e.g. the concept of 'past, present and future'.
1. Brainstorm the title of the essay or speech. Just write down any idea that comes into your mind no matter how silly or irrelevant you think it may be.
2. Use the following simple group of suggestions to help provide ideas:
o How, when, where, why and/or what
o When - before, now, soon
o When - past, present, future
o Family, relations, friends, acquaintances, strangers
o Local, regional, state/provincial, national, international
o Home, school, outside school
3. Use Google to research your topic, if possible.
4. Create a basic plan/plot from the data you have gathered - a synopsis.
5. Plan and write a draft of your introduction.
6. Plan and write a draft of your conclusion.
7. Ensure there is a link between the beginning and the ending.
8. Put one idea/part of the story into each paragraph.
9. Write all the first sentences of each paragraph to ensure the 'story' is in the correct sequence.
10. Expand each first sentence into a paragraph to fill in the 'story' as you go.
11. When writing your first draft, leave a blank line after each written line to help the editing process. The teacher should demonstrate what is meant here for younger students.
12. Use the language and terminology of the subject discipline of the topic.
13. Vary the way you start each sentence to create interest.
14. The first draft should be written in simple language and phrases to get your 'message' across. In the editing process, add words that give extra meaning, emphasis and emotion.
15. It is important to read your final draft aloud to yourself to ensure that it makes sense and gets the 'message' across smoothly.
Extra Ideas For Speech Writing
16. As a speech, it is important to note that most speakers deliver their speech at one hundred words a minute. Therefore, that will determine the length of the speech according to the time you have available.
17. In a speech, it is important not to include too many ideas. It is better to have, say three ideas for your themes and support those ideas strongly.
18. Introduce your basic theme with a strong introduction and reinforce your theme in your conclusion.
19. Time your speech to see if it fits into the time allowed. In a competition speech, it is better to be a little short on the time than to be too long.
20. In a competition speech, there will be a warning bell so know where in your speech you must be at that time. Then adjust the speed of your speech or omit part of it to finish on time.
Now that you have read all these suggestions, you will realise that not all will be suitable for younger students. You will need to go through the suggestions to find those that suit the age, experience and ability of the students you teach.
With most of the suggestions, you will need to demonstrate to your class how to use them. With older students, you could select an essay or speech topic and work with the class on a strategy to create a draft plan. Then the students could continue through to the final writing stage.
If you teach your students these strategies, then they can never seriously say to you, "I don't know how to start."
Our author, Rick Boyce, wrote many essays during his university and school days and knows how hard it was to get started as a student. In his early teaching career he taught English, History and Geography to High School students. In his fifties, he joined a public speaking club where he learnt the art of public speaking. He was able during that time to win club speaking competitions and competed in state finals of Rostrum speaking competitions. For more information about what to do in your classroom, Rick has produced a website to help teachers.