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Crafting an Essay with Curiosity

Authored By: 
Ian Rusten, History teacher

How do we become historical writers who don’t merely write about facts, but write strong informational essays that develop ideas, arrange facts, and provide supporting evidence and details, all while making connections and drawing conclusions?

Every year, I ask my students to write several informational essays. Essays that require research and research questions, a topic sentence, a main idea, supporting evidence, an introduction, and a conclusion. Inevitably, upon receiving the assignments, students panic and feel unsure of how to address at least one of the stages of the writing process. Sometimes the struggle is with getting started, developing research questions, or writing a strong and relevant topic sentence, and other times it’s with finding sources or adding and citing supporting evidence.

However, the skills required to craft an effective and powerful informational essay are not just important for your high school history class, they are skills and tools that can be used both in college and beyond.

One key skill we must cultivate and always treasure is curiosity. As William Arthur Ward wrote, “Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.” Curiosity is what ignites our learning. It’s what should push us to our topics - to begin to ask meaningful and thoughtful questions. Informational essays must begin with curiosity. If we are curious about our topic, we will WANT to ask questions, we will WANT to do the research, we will WANT to learn the answers, and we will WANT to ask more questions.

Albert Einstein said, “If we knew what it was that we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?” Research is about not just looking for the answers we know, but also about finding questions we never knew we wanted to ask.




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