Your class has read and analyzed the text, and now it’s time to write the essay. In essay writing, of course, output depends on input, or pre-writing. Continuing with our Anglo-Saxon unit, we’re going to prepare for an essay on Beowulf. One of the more constructive aids can be found at Edsitement: a table for filling in the Elements of the Epic Hero Cycle (pdf file). You can make copies of the table to use as handouts for your students, but maybe you’re trying to cut down on all those handouts. There is also an interactive exercise at the same site, which is useful for the individual student, but not for you, or the class as a whole.
Why not utilize Google forms to capitalize on all that useful input.
Once all the students have participated, publish the results. The output from the input form is a winner in two ways. First, you have an online document which shows you at a glance whether or not your students have completed the first steps toward writing the essay. It will also be very apparent what they don’t understand as a whole, or individually. All very useful information.
Best of all, though, is how they help each other. By making the input document public, all students can see what the other students entered, and make adjustments to their own understandings, or lack thereof.
You’re going to like the output!