Our Essay Outline Generator has been an invaluable tool for us as we support student essay writing. It allows students to complete an electronic graphic organizer and then, with one click, the organizer becomes an outline for their essay. However, up until now, it has only been available for essay building in MS Word. But thanks our school's former tech coach (she is now with a different school district), our Essay Outline Generator is available for Google Docs -- and completely customizable so that you best meet the needs of your students!
Setting up the Essay Outline Generator takes a bit of time but it will save you and your student's time in the end. We'll take you through step-by-step.
First, you need copies of each of these documents:
Once you have made the copies, create a folder (ours is called: Essay Outline Generator) in your Google drive and putting all three items into it (Essay template, Spreadsheet, Form).
Within that Essay Outline Generator Folder, set up another folder called Student Essays (or FDR Essays or Persuasive Essays 2019, etc. -- whatever works for you); this folder is where your students' essays will reside.
Then, open your copy of the Google sheet, go to the Add-Ons menu, select Get Add-Ons and launch autoCrat. Many of the job settings will have copied with the spreadsheet, but you need to go in a tweak a bit.
1- You'll need to ensure it is linked to the essay outline template that lives on YOUR own drive
2- You'll to to ensure it is linked to the appropriate destination folder on YOUR drive (Student Essays, in our example)
This screencast should help you get things set up correctly.
Next, share the link to the form with your students. When a student submits the form, a copy of their filled-in Essay Template is shared to their own Google Drive (they will find it in their Drive under "Shared with me") as well as appearing in your Student Essays folder and as a link on your Google Sheet. Students can then go in to add supporting details and further craft their essays.
Finally, go in to the Google sheet and access all of your student essays -- read, make comments, etc. And, remember, you can also look at them all in your Student Essays folder as well.
LIBRARIANS: why not support your teachers by setting this up for them? Create the document copies, set up folders, launch autoCrat, share the link that students will use to complete the form, and then make your collaborating teacher the owner of the materials within Google.
Note: Sometimes autoCrat gets persnickety and you'll have to run it manually (once your students have submitted their forms) in order to get the Google Sheet fill in with all of your student essays:
If you decide to use the Essay Outline Generator you'll also want to check out all of our writing resources. We typically use our Thesis Statement Writing Workshop to introduce our graphic organizer to students and to help them learn how to create strong thesis statements. Next, we use the Essay Roadmap to help students plan their essays before they use the Essay Outline Generator. We know that every class is different so we hope you can use some or all of the materials or that they might serve as a starting place to create your own materials. When teachers share, great ideas bubble up.
How do you help your students tackle essays? We'd love to hear from you!
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