From the Forums: On IEW and the Essay

Aug 06, 2019 | Posted by the IEW Blog Team


Our online forums are a welcoming space where you can ask questions, share support, and feel encouraged. A community of people who share a common goal—teaching writing—the forums are supported by not only the community of members but also by a team of experienced IEW support staff.

Recently we received a question in the forums about essay writing: Does IEW address how to write all different types of essays? The answer is a resounding yes! The most important things to keep in mind when you are determining how to write a particular essay are structure and style. If you know the various structural models and are able to incorporate stylistic techniques, you can do any kind of writing. Don’t overthink the genres. Think structure. Once you are able to determine the appropriate structural model to use, you will be able to turn your attention to gathering your research (if applicable) and organizing your outlines to create an essay that is well constructed and stylishly written.

To learn some of the ways different essay types fit within IEW’s units, check out Jill Pike’s response from the forums.

All essays follow the same basic model; it is the content that determines what kind of essay is being written. IEW presents a basic essay model that can be adjusted to write an essay on any prompt. Unit 7, Inventive Writing, teaches how to compose essays that do not require research; Unit 8 teaches how to construct research essays and those that require an opinion.

Below is a short list of essay types showing how a student would tackle each one.

Cause and Effect Essay (Units 7 or 8)
A cause and effect essay explains how things affect and depend on each other. An effect might have one or many causes. Unit 7 requires no outside sources. It is a useful unit to refer to when a student is writing an essay that responds to a prompt or a descriptive essay about the student’s personal experience. In contrast, Unit 8 utilizes outside resources to support the student’s opinion and is very useful for constructing essays that require research.

Classification Essay (Unit 8)
This essay breaks a general subject into classes (categories or groups). The subject can be a thing or an idea. The introduction gives background information and defines the subject. The body paragraphs’ topics go from general to specific. The conclusion returns to general.

Comparison-Contrast Essay (Units 7 or 8)
This essay covers two aspects of a subject: how things are alike and how they are different. There are two formulas that are best for writing one:

  • Compare the two (or more) items by topic in each paragraph.
  • Compare with back-to-back paragraphs per topic.

Definition Essay (Unit 8)
This essay explores the meaning of a word, term, or concept. It would include its dictionary definition and the connotations of the word.
The topics could provide examples of how the word is used and the various meanings and nuances involved.

Descriptive Essay (Unit 7)
This essay paints a picture with words. The topics often appeal to the senses (sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell) or emotions.

Illustration Essay (Units 7 or 8)
This essay provides illustrations of the subject, that is, examples of the subject in practice or real life. For example, an illustration essay can provide specific examples of irony or stereotyping.
The conclusion would not analyze the illustrations. It would just sum up how one could determine if another example fits the subject.

Literary Analysis (Unit 8)
This essay analyzes the components of fiction. It makes the thesis clear in the introduction. Body paragraph topics develop and prove the thesis idea and are supported by examples from the literature, along with explanations of how the examples prove the topics. The conclusion sums up the main thing we learn from this analysis and might show its relevance to us today.

Narrative Essay (Unit 7)
A narrative essay tells a story that can be fictional or real-life. To make it an essay, a story would be sandwiched between an introduction (giving some background on the story) and a conclusion (explaining what was learned or what was interesting about the story). The story may be told using the Story Sequence Chart or by depicting a sequence of scenes, similar to Unit 5.

Persuasive Essay (Units 7 or 8)
The persuasive essay attempts to persuade the reader to adopt the writer’s position. The IEW persuasive model follows a specific pattern that is truly persuasive. It makes the question clear in the introduction. The topics then slant from promoting the con to promoting the pro. The conclusion states the author’s position and supports his argument.

Process Analysis Essay (Units 7 or 8)
The topics of this essay are the steps of a process from beginning to end. The introduction gives the background on the process, and the conclusion explains what you will have when the process is complete.

Do you have questions about IEW? Do you want to share your excitement about the progress one of your students is making in writing? Or are you looking for some general support as you navigate teaching writing to your students? Join our forums! They’re a great little corner of the Internet for all things IEW. We’ll see you there!


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