I've thrown some example essays - GED style 250 word essays - up among my google docs for anyone to use. (See my Tools for pre-GED folder.)
These essays are mostly longer and wordier than what our learners need to write for the test. And they aren't pretty essays. I suspect they would be marked lower due to their mechanical nature. That shouldn't be the case. The dullness is what makes them crystal clear. But, you know how these English Lit. majors are....
When I give them to a learner, I often use coloured markers to show the bone structure of the essays - the repeat and summation of key ideas, and the part played by examples or supporting details, and so on.
What I especially like about marking them up like this is that they help show learners why they need to figure out their two or three middle or body paragraphs first. Once the body is roughed out - even in outline form - it becomes possible to write the opening and closing. On the other hand, learners who start their essay without a clear outline typically end up in trouble: repeating the same ideas in multiple paragraphs; straying off topic or changing their minds part way through; stating opinions for which they can find few or no examples or support.
One of my favourite thing is to get learners to write three different things about one topic - a good movie, a favourite time of year, a pet peeve, the ubiquity of computers - on three different 4" x 6" cards. Then, I get them to write (on another piece of paper) one sentence summing up each card. Finally, I ask for a sentence summing up the three sentences they just wrote. That last becomes their opening or topic sentence, followed by the three summary sentence, to form an introduction. Next comes the three card-paragraphs, arranged from weakest to strongest. And then I have them re-word (slightly) and repeat the intro as a conclusion.
This is my favourite way to introduce essay writing, and you'd think it would work.
You would think it would work.
Well, anyway. I'm convinced the theory is sound.
So, here they are:
They were uploaded from Word, and should download the same. Feel free to edit them or chop them up or use them however you might to give someone a helping hand. A word to the wise - they don't display as two columns in my web-browser (Firefox 4), but after downloading they appear as I intended them. I'll try viewing them in other browsers later. For now, I guess, don't try working in your web browser. Instead, save them to your desktop.
(That whole "cloud computing" business is still just hype.)
Oh, and if you're not coming to these through my qualities ~ communities ~ literacies blog, then I can't make any guarantees about what you're about to download. These are free essays on the web: somebody is going to scrape them and try to peddle them to you along with who knows what malware. Browser beware!