One effective tool that allows students to learn how to write essays is to have them read essays and grade them based on rubrics. This is especially effective in Advanced Placement classes. Students can be given actual graded AP essays available from the College Board along with the official grading rubrics. They then assign the essays grades based on the rubric. As a class, have the students discuss each essay and see how they compare with the actual scores. Students can even practice writing their own essay and then using the rubrics to grade it themselves. By seeing effective and ineffective essays, they will improve their own writing skills.
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