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Bricks and Mortar Essays

Tuesday, July 16, 2013
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This is a fun and kinaesthetic way to introduce the Edexcel Unit 4 essays to a class- and I'm sure could be easily adapted to other exam boards too. Students will work individually and as a group to 'build' a complete 'wall' of an essay.

I was trying to think of a way of introducing the A2 Edexcel Unit 4 essays to a group of students currently completing their final few weeks of year 12. And then Twitter saved the day! I discovered an idea called 'Bricks and Mortar', and adapted it into a perfect way to introduce the clear essay structure to my class (who were slightly nervous and confused about these mysterious things called 'essays').

I can't find the original blog post now- so apologies to the person who thought of this fantastic idea- if anyone does know please let me know & I will edit this post.

I've adapted the activity slightly to fit my needs, and the lesson works as follows:

1.Get students into groups of 4 and put a 30-mark essay question on the board

2.Give each student a red brick and tell them to write out a full 'explanation' paragraph to answer the question on their brick (they need to make sure, in their group, that they each pick different topics)

3.After 12 minutes, students need to swap and read through each other's red bricks and then write an evaluation point to give with it on a blue brick

4.After a further 12 minutes, the students, in their group, have effectively created a complete essay

5.Then hand out and go through an example of a really good essay as well as the levels markscheme. Go through these with the students and then get them to mark their work

6.Stick all the bricks together and put them up as an 'essay wall', to act as a visual reminder of essay structure

I used two simple powerpoints for this lesson- one for the activity and one explaining how to mark essays (this is the 'method' I always use when marking unit 4 essays). These can be downloaded below:

Bricks and Mortar PowerPoint

Essay Paragraph Marking Guidance PowerPoint

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