1 The Big Mac Method for Writing Essays 1. Overview Writing an essay is like eating a hamburger.

Main Point Evidence Example Explanation + Relevance • • • You bite into the top bun first which is the main point linked to the topic. Next you reach the meaty filling, which is the evidence or examples used to back up your main point. Finally you bite into the bottom bun which is the explanation of the relevance of your evidence to your main point.

Thus: • Each paragraph in your essay is like the Big Mac. • The essay overall is an extra large Bic Mac.  the introduction and conclusion are the buns holding together your argument.  the other paragraphs are the meat of your argument, seasoned by details and evidence. This method of approaching the writing of paragraphs is also known as the SEE method. S = Statement of your main point using key words from the topic (a topic sentence). E = Evidence and Examples such as details, statistics, facts, quotes and references. E = Explanation, Elaboration and discussion of how the evidence supports your main point. Another way of looking at this is the LEER method, usually required for year 12 and 13, so that the argument is more analytical. L = Lead statement making a point relevant to key words in the topic. E = Evidence and Examples E = Explanation, Elaboration and discussion of the evidence. R = Relevance of these to the overall argument, therefore a more analytical discussion.

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2. • • • • • • • •

A Good Essay Structure Is made easier by prior planning Makes it clear how you are going to address the question, where you are going and why Sets out your main ideas clearly Makes it clear how the main ideas relate to each other Takes the reader through your answer in a logical, progressive way Helps the reader to remember what you have said Organises groups of related information in paragraphs Uses connecting words and phrases to relate each point/idea to earlier and later points

A Model Essay Structure Introduction • • • Explain how you interpret the question set using a clear statement of opinion Define or explain key terms if necessary Identify the issues that you are going to explore with a brief summary of the main points in your argument

Argument/Main Body Contains the points outlined in your introduction, divided into paragraphs: • Paragraph 1 o Covers the first thing you said you would address. o The first sentence (the topic sentence) introduces the main idea of the paragraph. o Other sentences develop the topic. o Include relevant examples, details, evidence, quotations, references. • Paragraph 2 and other paragraphs o The first sentence links the paragraph to the previous paragraph then introduces the main idea of the paragraph. • Further paragraphs link back to the main opinion and/or argument in the introduction.

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The Conclusion • • • • • State your general conclusions in terms of the main points made Make it clear why those conclusions are important or significant to the topic Do not introduce new material In the last sentence, sum up your argument very briefly, linking it to the topic Set the issues in a broader perspective/wider context

3. Analysing the Essay Topic • • • • • • • Read the question several times. Underline the key words that tell you what approach to take, such as: discuss, compare, evaluate, show how. Highlight key words relating to the subject matter. Note any terms that you need to define. Write the question out in your own words. In your introduction say how you interpret the question (e.g. by rephrasing in your own words) In your conclusion, refer back to the question; show the reader that you are still answering the set question.

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4. Instructional Words in Essay Topics You might find that title you have been given does not contain any of these words. You will have to look carefully at the way the question is phrased, along with any accompanying guidance as to what is expected, to establish what sort of approach is required. Account for: Give reasons for; explain why something happens. Analyse: Break up into parts; investigate. Comment on: Identify and write abut the main issues; give your reactions based on what you’ve read or studied in class. Avoid just personal opinion. Compare: Look for the similarities and differences between two things. Show the relevance or consequences of these. Conclude which is preferable if necessary. Contrast: Bring out the differences between two items or arguments. Show whether the differences are significant. Give reasons why one is preferable if necessary. Critically evaluate: Weigh arguments for and against something, assessing the strength of the evidence on both sides. Use criteria to guide your assessment of which opinions, theories, models or items are preferable. Define: Give the exact meaning of. Where relevant, show you understand how the definition may be problematic. Describe: Give the main characteristics or features of something, or outline the main events. Discuss: Investigate or examine by argument; sift and debate; give reasons for and against; examine the implications. Distinguish between: Bring out the differences between. Evaluate: Assess and give your judgement about the merit, importance or usefulness of something. Back your judgement with evidence. Examine: Look closely into something. Explain: Make clear why something happens, or is the way it is; interpret and account for; give reasons for. Explore: Examine thoroughly; consider from a variety of viewpoints. Illustrate: Make something clear and explicit, giving examples of evidence. Interpret: Show the meaning and relevance of data or other material presented.

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5 Justify: Give evidence which supports an argument or idea; show why a decision or conclusions were made; answer the main objections which might be made. Narrate: Outline what happened. Outline: Give the main points/features/general principles; show the main structure and relationships; omit details and examples. Relate: a. Narrate. b. Show similarities and connections between.

State: Give the main features briefly and clearly. Summarise: Draw out the main points only; omit details and examples. To what extent: Consider how far something is true, or contributes to a final outcome. Consider also ways in which it is not true. Argue a case with evidence to show the degree to which you agree with the statement. Trace: Follow the development or history of an event or process. 5. Linking Words Used in Essays Sometimes it is difficult to think of different words to use to link, expand or list points in an essay. Try to learn different words that can be used to link ideas other than ‘and’ and ‘therefore’. The table below shows common linking words and different ways of saying these. USUAL LINKING WORD(S) HOWEVER ALSO FOR EXAMPLE ON THE OTHER HAND IN OTHER WORDS NEXT THEREFORE although in addition namely alternatively in view of this additionally it can be seen OTHER WAYS TO SAY THIS despite furthermor e for instance on the contrary to look at this another way also as a result nonetheless besides such as in comparison rather though similarly including although in that case firstly secondly thirdly then at the same time as well as in particular rather with this in mind finally because of this

another so

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6 IN CONCLUSIO N

on the whole

to sum up

overall

thus

to summarise

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7 Other Useful Linking Words and Phrases

To indicate a contrast: however conversely another possibility despite this for all that on the other hand On the contary but In spite of yet alternatively In fact better still nevertheless Although in contrast rather worst still notwithstanding all the same instead in comparison

To provide an illustration for example in other words typical of this including chiefly that is namely as such especially mainly that is to say such as a typical/particular/key example not least most importantly in particular for instance as follows

To extend a point similarly furthermore besides equally indeed above all likewise in the same way as well in addition too also

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To show cause and effect/conclusion: so as a result in this/that case for this reason it follows that in conclusion therefore resulting from this consequently owing to the fact this suggests that it might be concluded from this accepting this this implies to conclude accordingly thus as a consequen ce of this because of this/that hence

this conveys

To show the next step: first(ly) second(ly) first and foremost another finally to begin/start with first and most importantl y then ultimately in the first/second place

after lastly

next last but not least

afterwards

third

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9 6. Tips for Planning Your Essay A Planning Acronym • Always plan before writing. Use a mind-map, spider diagram, bullet points or brainstorm the ideas.

P - Plan and Prepare the ideas that link to key ideas. L - Link the ideas by sorting them into the order you want to use. A - Arrange and Annotate the ideas with details and evidence. N - Nut out the introduction and overall development of the ideas. Make an outline plan • • Keep the question in sight. Try using a visual mind-map or spider diagram to brainstorm relevant points – both what you know and what you need to find out.

The Planning Process • Once you have brainstormed or jotted down a number of ideas and points that spring to mind, your next task is to work on these key ideas using some of the following techniques: Spidergram Linear Model Cluster Model Keyhole Model Experiment and see which of these techniques suits you best. 1) 2) 3) The Spidergram is useful as a mapping technique. It’s simple but not sequential. The Linear model is more sequential (in that you can trace through and order your ideas in a more progressive, logical way). Cluster models can be varied greatly according to length and type of essay, or number of paragraphs required. They also have the advantage of encouraging you to write your actual topic sentences and quotes/evidence and to supply the paragraph linking words. These visual models offer a way of organising and seeing your ideas

If you find essay writing difficult, you should spend much more time on planning and the planning process so that you master the format and structure.

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Mapping samples Sample topic: Discuss your views on whether censorship is necessary. These visual models offer an easy way of organising and ‘seeing’ your ideas.

Linear model

Individual right to choose 1) censorship impinges on those rights 2) adults able to value own decisions 3) who can say what is appropriate

parental responsibility in case of children 1) better to be open 2) parents role to educate

increased violence in society linked to violence on film 1) crimes against women and children 2) incidence of increased violent acts in children – various studies

need for stricter etc. laws to stop pornography 1) debases women 2) often warped view of gender roles

Spidergrams
violence on film - links to violence in children - links to violence against women - increased social violence

stricter laws - how to enforce them

violence on TV - desensitises people - should be censored

individual rights - individual should be able to choose - infringement of human rights - arrogant and high-handed

Censorship
spread of pornography on the increase underground - debases women - encourages depravity - mostly violence against women and children

society’s role to decide - who can say what should be seen - who should say what is acceptable

parental responsibility - to control children’s viewing - denial of parents’ rights protection for vulnerable otherwise - those who are too young to decide - warped views
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11 THE CLUSTER MODEL Introduction Topic Introduction

link word

link word

link word

link word

Topic Sentence

Topic Sentence

Topic Sentence

Topic Sentence

Topic Sentence

example/quotation

example/quotation

example/quotation

example/quotation

example/quotation

example/quotation

example/quotation

example/quotation

example/quotation

example/quotation

example/quotation

example/quotation

example/quotation

example/quotation

example/quotation

Conclusion

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12 Keyhole Essay choose the most appropriate essay topic plan the points you wish to write about write your introductory paragraph list the main points you will discuss in each section (paragraph) find evidence which supports each point write your conclusion

Topic: Introduction: Point 1. Point 2. Point 3. Point 4. Point 1. Evidence a. Evidence b. Point 2. Evidence a. Evidence b. Point 3. Evidence a. Evidence b. Point 4. Evidence a. Evidence b. Conclusion : Task Choose one of these models and use it to plan an essay. Point 1. Point 3. Point 2. Point 4.

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13 The Structure 1) • • Introduction The opening paragraph - should use the key words of the topic

defines topic - should show an understanding of the key words states direction- make a general response to the topic/give an overview of the main ideas you will cover to support your line of argument - should only be 3 – 4 sentences long The Main Body Topic sentence paragraph1 link Topic sentence paragraph 2 link Topic sentence paragraph 3 link Topic sentence paragraph 4 link Topic sentence paragraph 5 …      contains several paragraphs, sequentially organised contains the main arguments in your essay each main idea should be contained in a separate paragraph this main idea should be expressed in the topic sentence in each paragraph the rest of the paragraph should elaborate, explain, develop and illustrate the key idea through offering of examples as evidence each paragraph should link the next to give the reader a sense of your essay developing.

2)

7.

Examples From Student Essays

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A.

Here is an example from a Year 13 Geography essay.

Topic: How does the process of tourism development operate in New Zealand? Key Words: Process Tourism development New Zealand

Instructional Words: How ……. Operates Sample Flow – Chart for Planning

Diagram Showing a Simplified Process of Tourism Development

Natural & cultural attractions e.g. geysers & bath houses

Demand from tourists to visit the attractions

Supply of infrastructure and services

Entrepreneurial investment and economic growth $

Growth and Development of supply elements accommodation amenities attractions activities accessibility

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Bullet Points developed from the flow chart to use for paragraphs • Natural and cultural setting in Rotorua – main point.  Examples of Rainbow/Fairy Springs  Whakarewarewa  Waimangu Valley Discuss how these were developed. • Surge in ‘domestic’ demand from tourists – main point.  need for accommodation and better roads  government funding to improve road, amenities and infrastructure Discuss how this came about. • Changing market – increase in international tourists and more youthful travellers.  upgrading of older developments needed  supply of other activities developed  more infrastructure • Economy and politics influence tourism.  Political redevelopment by Rotorua Regional Council of Amorangi Museum and Blue Baths.  Asian downturn and exchange rates affect spending (economy). • Growth and development of tourism wanes over time(conclusion). Sample Paragraph Main Point: The fourth phase of tourism development in Rotorua has been characterized by diversification and the upgrading of older developments. Evidence: Changing market demand from more free and independent travellers and youthful adventure tourists has led to the supply of activities such as lugeing, rafting, zorbing and 4-W-D adventures which have become attractions in their own right. Explanation and evidence: The agrodome is another major attraction that represents diversification and was developed in the area because of the already high visitor numbers. More evidence and explanation: A wider range of accommodation such as backpackers, homestays and luxury lodges has also been developed as entrepreneurs seek to cater for particular niche markets.

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B.

Samples of paragraphs from a range of subjects Year 11 Geography Topic: Describe migration movements within New Zealand’s Population and the issues it raises Introductory Paragraph This highlights all the points that will be discussed in the essay. Instructional Word: Describe (supply the main characteristics) Key Words: Migration movements New Zealand’s population Issues raised • • Read the paragraph and write on a piece of refill the sentences that relate to each of the key words. Has the student followed the instruction to ‘describe’? How do you know?

Migration is the movement of people. In New Zealand, the population distribution is constantly changing as people move from place to place. New Zealanders are very mobile people with over 30 percent of the population shifting residence between each census. There are three main types of migration within New Zealand, northward drift, rural to urban drift and migration within cities. People make these types of moves for many reasons, which are referred to as push and pull factors. These factors will also be outlined in this essay along with the various issues that arise when people follow a migration trend. Year 11 English Topic: Explain how the main idea of the text was conveyed by characters and or events Paragraph from the body of the essay Instructional Word: Explain (make clear why something happens; give reasons for; interpret) Key Words: main idea characters events

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17 Read the paragraph below and write on a piece of refill the sentences and/or phrases that show: a) The main point that links to the topic b) Explanation and discussion of the point c) Evidence/details/quotes to support it d) Further discussion of the relevance of the details that link to the topic e) Identify phrases that link to the key words: characters/main idea/events Harper Lee uses events as well as characters to develop the theme of courage. When Atticus is appointed to defend a black man against a rape charge, it requires a lot of courage for him to see it through. Before and throughout the trial, Atticus receives racist abuse from neighbours, townspeople and even members of his extended family. He explains his decision to defend Tom Robinson by saying to his family, “I wanted you t o see what real courage was… It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway, and see it through no matter what.” Real courage is doing what you know to be morally right – whether you win or not. Year 12 and 13 Exemplars Year 12 Classical Studies Topic: Examine how Homer portrays the relationship between gods and men in ‘The Odyssey’. Paragraph one immediately after the introduction Instructional Word: Examine (look closely at the issue) Key Words: relationship – gods and men -The Odyssey. Read the paragraph below and write on a piece of refill the sentences and phrases that show: a) The main point that links to the topic b) Explanation and discussion of the point c) Evidence used to support the point d) Further discussion of the relevance of both the evidence and other explanations to the lead (main) point being made [Tip: Relevance statements often start with ‘This Shows’ or “This is because’ or ‘This conveys’ or ‘This implies’] We can see the role these Gods played in human life in the opening scene of The Odyssey. The Olympic Gods have met at Mount Olympus, and are discussing the fate of the mortal Odysseus. From this we instantly gather that the Gods have complete control over every man on Earth. Athene, daughter of Zeus, is a great supporter of Odysseus, and feels he should be sent back to his native land. This is because at the Battle of Troy, Odysseus did not sack Troy upon victory, therefore Athene believes he is noble and worthy of the God’s help. This shows that even though the Gods control human lives at will, men like Odysseus can earn divine favour by acts of honour and courage. This is how the reciprocal nature of the relationship between Gods and humans is shown in Homer’s tale.
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Year 13 History Topic: Describe the place of popular religion in the lives of ordinary people in early modern England. Evaluate the extent to which popular beliefs and practices became more or less important in the lives of people between 1558 and 1667. This is an essay with two aspects to cover. Aspect 1 Instructional Word: describe (list the main characteristics) Key Words: popular religion ordinary people early modern England

Analyse the following paragraph using the same questions set for the year 12 example on page 16. Popular religion was a set of popular beliefs that the majority of the people believed in. It consisted of a belief in Catholic rituals and festivals, witchcraft, astrology and magic charms. It was based on superstition and was concerned with the dangers of day-today life and its popularity changed as time did. In Elizabeth’s reign, the 1559 Elizabethan Settlement did little to suppress the people’s popular beliefs and practices. In James’ reign most people maintained their popular beliefs and Charles I’s sumptuous Armenian church encouraged ritual and ceremony. The Interregnum in 1649 saw harsh Puritanical reign and when Charles II came to power in 1660, they welcomed the official state religion of Protestantism with open arms. Aspect 2 Instructional Word: evaluate (assess and give your judgement about the meant of something; support your judgement with evidence). Key Words: popular beliefs and practices -became more or less important (judge this) –focus on dates between 1558 and 1667. Analyse the following paragraph using the same questions set for the year 12 example on page 16. Historians’ views differ greatly over the extent to which popular beliefs and practices became more or less important in the lives of people during Charles I’s reign. Charles introduced the Church of Laud, and Armenian church that was very similar to the traditional Catholic churches of days gone by. Some historians thus argue that Charles helped maintain popular beliefs through the ornate decoration and ceremony that came with this church. Other historians, however, claim that the population disliked the Armenian church as they had already shed many of their popular beliefs.

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Year 13 Business Studies Topic: Discuss how businesses in your country might be influenced by government intervention. Instructional Words: discuss how (investigate or examine by argument; give reasons for and against, examine the implications) Key Words: businesses Influenced by government intervention Analyse the following paragraph using the same questions set for the year 12 example on page 16. Government spending also affects businesses. If the government increases spending on education, the demand for educational supplies will increase, increasing the revenue of businesses in that market. Government training programmes benefit businesses as more skilled workers means the business may not have to run its own training programmes. A skilled worker force may increase productivity and therefore profitability. The government’s unemployment policy also affects business. If governments decrease the incentives to stay out of work, unemployment will decrease. With a large pool of skilled worker available, businesses will not have to increase pay incentives to recruit employees and retain current employees. Businesses may not be forced to decline expansion opportunities due to head count issues (Microsoft). Businesses requiring a large pool of unskilled workers may be able to keep their pay rates to a minimum but still be above unemployment benefits. Other tasks to do • • • • • Find examples of linking words used in the samples. Plan your own paragraphs using the Big Mac / SEE / LEER methods. Check that your paragraphs focus on the topic and key words. Write practice paragraphs, then full essays based on topics from past papers. Practice! Practice! Practice!

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