The Essay Expo: Highlighting Student Papers

By August 24, 2019 August 25th, 2019 English

Question: How can I share my high school students’ research papers?

After ten weeks of working with 10th grade students on their extended essay research papers, my co-teachers and I presented an Essay Expo.   

In a nutshell, we taught two weeks of organization, two weeks of research, and six weeks of writing.  Add to that all the mini-lessons I developed and included, and it was quite a unit. The point of doing this was to prepare the 10th grade students for the International Baccalaureate (IB) essay they would do in 11th grade.

*Note: We had students at all levels of writing as well as English Language Learners at different levels.

The Essay Expo Day

  • In the spacious school library, tables were strung together along the outer walls with chairs set behind them.
  • Two colors (blue and salmon) of large, folded “name tags” were set on the table for each chair. Each tag included the student’s name and title of his/her paper.
  • When the Expo began, students whose names were on the BLUE TAGS went first. They sat down behind the table at their designated place and set their essay in front of their tag so someone stopping by could pick it up.
  • Guests visiting the tables asked students questions about their topic while others read their whole paper and then had a discussion.
  • SALMON TAG students who were waiting for their turn, were given a sheet of paper to fill out. They had to interview three of the BLUE students and their topics.
  • After twenty minutes or so, the BLUE TAG students exited their spots and students with a SALMON TAG sat down and had a chance to talk about their projects.
  • Near the end of the designated Expo time, refreshments were available for students and guests.

In the end, students really enjoyed sharing what they learned.  It made all of the research and writing worthwhile.

As teachers, we were supremely organized and so the Essay Expo went quite smoothly. I must admit though, after ten weeks of helping students, I felt like I’d just run a marathon!