14 Engaging Strategies that Students Can Use to Begin an Essay
If you don’t know much about my background, I spent 2 decades as a K-12 teacher and university professor. One of the hardest things to do was to teach students to write effective essays. As a special education and social studies teacher in K-12 and a professor of education at the university level, I stockpiled lots of tips for helping students to develop outstanding essays.
Today, I want to talk about the methods that I taught students to use to begin their essays. As we all know, an effective introductory paragraph can mean the difference between an essay that motivates and persuades or one that fails to connect with its audience. It lets your readers know what your essay is going to be about and sets a tone that can encourage them to keep reading.
There are tons of ways to begin an essay effectively. Here are the 14 introductory strategies that I taught my students to use when starting a new composition. These are merely suggestions, and I have had plenty of students to use them as inspiration to create their own methods.
- Begin with a joke, anecdote, or humorous quotation, and connect this with something about your subject. Throughout your essay, you can include callbacks that reference or tie back to the original joke or humorous statement.
- Make a contrast between reality and image—that is, between a stereotype and the actual truth.
- Succinctly describe a process that leads to your subject.
- Utilize a delay: which means putting off introducing the theme of your essay to pique your readers’ interest without overly frustrating them. The tension entices readers to brace for the big reveal.
- Contrast the past and present of your subject to introduce it to the reader.
- Discuss your thesis succinctly and directly but avoid being obvious (“This essay is about…”).
- Ask a question related to the subject and then invite others to answer it. Another variation would have you to ask and answer the question.
- Utilize a historical event in the present tense. This means that you will be discussing and framing it as if it were occurring now.
- Introduce your essay as a new discovery or revelation.
- Discuss a unique fact about the subject that you plan to discuss.
- Describe the setting of your essay.
- Reenact an event that exaggerates or satires your subject.
- Tell a secret about yourself that no one knows.
- Talk candidly or frankly about your subject.
What did I miss? What strategies do your students use to begin their essays? Place your advice in the comment section below.