English I and II STAAR EOC Test Prep- Writing

I have taught both English I and English II in Texas. Both grades have an English STAAR EOC test that includes a writing portion. On the English I test students have to write an expository essay. On the English II test they have to write a persuasive essay. I’ve put together the strategies and models I’ve used in my classroom into these materials that you can use. They can purchased in my TPT store. You can either buy a bundle for both ENG I and ENG II or purchase the one you need.

I am in Texas and originally created this for my English II students to help prepare them for the persuasive  or expository essay they would have to write on the STAAR English II or I EOC test. The advice and common mistakes are aimed towards the goal of passing that writing test. However, I have a PhD in Composition and have tried to create this unit to fit best practices for persuasive essay writing in any situation (whether for a standardized test or a dual credit class or in general).

I did not include a rubric because what you are evaluating can change greatly between standardized test, dual credit courses, or general classroom writing goals. If you are using this to prepare students to write a persuasive essay on a standardized test go to your state testing website and look for a rubric. Texas STAAR has a rubric and lined writing paper for the English I expository EOC essay or English II EOC persuasive essay. You can find released Texas STAAR tests here on the state website. You can find the rubrics for the writing portion of the STAAR English I and II EOC here along with other state writing resources.

Here is a preview of what it is in the persuasive bundle:
This writing kit is good for any persuasive essay needs, not just the Texas STAAR test! It has been updated and is now 27 pages long.

It includes:
– 5 pages of writing instructions handouts with detailed examples. It goes paragraph by paragraph.
– It has two versions on the example. One version has notes about the organizational structure.
– Tips & Common Mistakes to Avoid
– A list of transition/linking words
– A persuasive essay outline map for students who need a short structure guide
– Outline with the organization structure labeled
– Blank outline (some states allow blank organizers to be used on standardized tests)
– A list of types of evidence with definitions
– A list of 12 persuasive writing prompts
– 12 Persuasive Essay Writing Prompt Cards
– Notes for the teacher on how to use this kit

Here is a preview of what it is in the expository bundle:
This expository essay writing kit is 25 pages.

It includes:
– 4 pages of instructions on how to write the essay. It breaks the essay down paragraph by paragraph with examples. Includes the introduction with an attention getting device and thesis statement, body paragraph structure, transitions, conclusion, etc.
– An example essay with and without a dissection of its parts
– An outline graphic organizer with the components labeled
– A blank copy of the graphic organizer (some states allow this on state tests)
– A list of common mistakes and advice
– A handy outline map to briefly remind students of the structure (handy for students with IEPs for additional handouts)
– A list of transition (linking) words for student reference
– A list of 12 expository prompts
– A set of 12 expository prompt cards that can be printed and laminated for student use
– Notes for the teacher with tips on how to use this kit.

+More about the writing prompt cards+
The prompt cards allow for practice with various prompts. You can print each prompt on a different color paper (the duplicate of that prompt should be the same color as the original). You can laminate them then have students choose a topic at random to write about. The second time around they merely pick a different color to ensure they get a different topic. Included is a blank set of cards for your own prompts.

Crafting the Syllabus

A syllabus is an important document. It introduces your students to your class, your policies, and your expectations. I give students a copy of it. They also get a home contact sheet where I collect their parent/guardians information and have both them and the student sign a statement on it that they received the syllabus and understand the policies. I also make the syllabus available on our Google Classroom for easy student reference.

For the high school classroom consider including these policies and expectations in your syllabus:

  • Break down of grades (categories, weights, etc.)
  • Late work policy (or statement that late work is not accepted)
  • Makeup work policy
  • Technology policy (think about cellphones, smartwatches, tablets, etc.)
  • Restroom use policy (unless your school has a campus wide policy that you follow)
  • Cheating/Plagiarism Policy (or a statement reminding them that this policy is in the school student handbook if that applies)
  • Class Rules/Expectations
  • Supply List
  • Remind sign up info (or whatever site you use if you use one)
  • Any information for a class website, Google Classroom, etc.
  • Expectations for how to turn in work (Do you have a bin? Do you take assignments electronically? When is an assignment considered late?)

If you search Pinterest or teacher blogs you will see several beautiful syllabi with images and magazine style layouts. Those are eye catching but don’t feel pressured to make yours look like that if you don’t have the skill or the time. What’s important is the content in the syllabus rather than the way your syllabus looks style wise.