Organization is probably one of the most difficult things for students to do when they’re writing an essay. If they have good ideas, often they go off topic and one way to help them stay on topic is this technique called “the guiding hand.” It enables the students to come up with a topic sentence and actually address each of those ideas in the body of the essay. After we have discussed the actual topic that they will be writing about and making sure they have a clear understanding of what the topic is, then I have them draw their hand on a piece of paper. For instance, if they are writing about the positive or negative effects of television and would write, let’s say if it was positive, positive effects of television, so that right there they know they will be sticking to what those positive effects are.
They will pick three positives that they will be writing about in their essay. In their introductory paragraph, they would mention that they would believe there were positive effects of television, that television is educational, it provided relaxation, and provided entertainment, something like that and would obviously have maybe a sentence or two more in their introduction. Then, as they are writing, they would just do each finger. The first paragraph would be on educational, the second one on how television helped them to relax, and the third paragraph would address entertainment. And it’s wonderful because they don’t get off target, it’s all right there. And then of course the little finger would be the conclusion and they know that would be a summary of the three fingers.