My students at the University of Wisconsin told me that they found the acronym MEAL to be helpful to them when they were writing in-class essays. MEAL is a way to remember how to structure your paragraphs if you are stuck or if the writing process does not happen organically for you.
M - Main Idea - Each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence introducing what the paragraph will discuss
E - Evidence - What facts, quotations, artifacts, articles, etc. do you have to support your main idea?
A - Analysis - You cannot just present the evidence, you must tell the reader why your evidence supports your topic
L - Link - How does this paragraph support your overall thesis?