I am currently teaching the way to write an essay as this:
Step 1, write the topic sentence of the whole essay. Then, in the following first paragraph, develop the ideas that you are going to expound later on. E.g., writing an essay on Macbeth, write the topic sentence "Shakespeare shows us through the story of Macbeth the possibility for ambition to turn to greed, and for power to corrupt us." Then, write about the ideas going to be expounded "Macbeth's ambition for kingship made him kill the king." and "Even when Macbeth was king, he still murdered, to secure his kingship and establish his power."
Step 2, Write your first paragraph, and make sure that it's a paragraph on the first idea that you introduced in your introduction paragraph. That is, if you first introduced "Macbeth's ambition for kingship made him kill the king.", then write your first paragraph on that idea. Then, write your other paragraphs expounding the rest of the ideas, in sequence.
Step 3, finish with a conclusion that sums up all that you have written in the above paragraphs, and make sure that your conclusion reaffirms the topic sentence.
I'm wondering what are some other tips I can give my students? As in, someone once suggested that including the manners, customs and practices of the time around Shakespeare to help explain some of the ideas.... Do you have any other ideas?