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Secondary level English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers and content area teachers are called by their curricular objectives, suggestions for professional best practice, and state mandates to help students develop their skills as writers of academic essays. This research outlines a scaffolded approach to writing instruction. The teacher and researcher used content and academic word vocabulary lists, prewriting graphic organizers, and writing templates. The multi-step approach helped secondary English Language Learners (ELLs) improve their ability to write academic essay forms for social studies. The research was done in a sheltered ELL social studies classroom over the course of six months. The study reviewed 46 student essays examining the frequency of vocabulary word use and identified common stylistic elements in intermediate ELLs' academic writing. The research supports the use of a strongly scaffolded approach for teaching academic writing skills.