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Thread: Teaching Five Sentence Paragraphs

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    Something Or Other... Array panhunger's Avatar
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    Teaching Five Sentence Paragraphs

    As I have said before, I'm not a professional teacher. There is really no one within my EP to discuss certain methods or lessons, so I take them here.

    I am considering teaching a very restrictive form of paragraph writing. If you don't mind, I'd like some thoughts on it.

    Presently, I'm working with my M5s on paragraph writing, topic sentence, details, concluding sentence. I'm finding many, not all, but many of the students getting lost in a simple paragraph. They end up wandering around with multiple run on sentences, eventually ending the mess with an abrupt halt!

    I've observed these students on countless occasions. They give little effort to the whole endeavor. They often write as fast as possible to get the thing done with as many words as possible, as if more is better! They take little time with word choice. They rarely read their work aloud. They always seem to give writing the least of their efforts.

    I've found making them write multiple drafts, making corrections and rewriting the corrected work, has improved their awareness, but only slightly. Most just do not care.

    So I was going to introduce the five sentence paragraph. I don't like restrictive forms of writing, and the five sentence paragraph is very restrictive. Topic sentence; three details in three sentences; and a concluding sentence. However, this just might be a way to 'restrict' the mistakes by restricting the blind assembly line word race.

    Any thoughts on this or other writing instruction tips?
    "Goddamn it Lord, bless oh ye this bacon..."

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    President of the Galaxy Array zaphodbeeblebrox's Avatar
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    Re: Teaching Five Sentence Paragraphs

    You might want to teach your students outlining prior to writing. This will allow them to segregate their various ideas into individual paragraphs. I actually learned in a five paragraph approach (I'm taking this from a European history class which I credit for teaching me extemporaneous writing): Introduction, 3 supporting paragraphs, and a conclusion. This reduces rambling. Paragraphs can be long or short, depending on how much detail is necessary to support the specific subtopic. A 5 paragraph paper places a structure on the entire writing.

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    Senior Member Array Hootad Binky's Avatar
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    Re: Teaching Five Sentence Paragraphs

    I tried to paste some materials I use but they wouldn't format properly; PM me and I'll send as an attachment, if you want

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    Re: Teaching Five Sentence Paragraphs

    Pan this week I've done this with my P6 and M1. Get a story in picture form. Get every student for each picture to write a sentence about each one in the present. Next add in interesting adjectives. Then change the verbs to the past. then put it together. all my P6 have 300 word stories.
    Me personally, trying to get a perfect paragraph is not the way to go. If you show these skills over the week then give the students a different picture board and tell them to write you a 500 word story. I want my students to make mistakes and go back and see them. you need to get something stimulating for them to write about. Meeting a famous pop star etc something they can relate do. As I say the expectation for My P6 (All of them is nothing less than 2-300 words of writing. 5 lines sounds a bit low for a M5. just my thoughts, not sure of your levels though.

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    Something Or Other... Array panhunger's Avatar
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    Re: Teaching Five Sentence Paragraphs

    Zap, I love that format, especially for speeches...

    HB, I'll PM you...

    Pee, my students are very capable of writing a lot of words. They are capable of very creative writing. I'm trying to get them to clean up their work. I'm trying to get them to see their mistakes, correct them, and re-write their work with those mistakes eliminated. It's a challenge to get them to value the process and to actually get them to become aware of their mistakes in their writing. I'm thinking that a more restricted writing format will help in this process.

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    Re: Teaching Five Sentence Paragraphs

    PM me for details...

    Anyway, one type of paragraph outline is this:
    I.The first body paragraph
    A.Sentence 1: The topic sentence.
    1.This first sentence states the idea you will analyze in this paragraph. Make it short, sweet, and to the point.
    B.Sentence 2: The first concrete fact.
    1.The concrete fact is a reason that supports your topic sentence. It must be clearly written, giving one reason why the topic of this sentence is important. Do not explain anything in this sentence.
    C.Sentence 3: The interpretation of the first concrete fact.
    1.Here is where you explain why the concrete fact is important. This sentence gives your reasoning as to why your concrete fact is important to you.
    D.Sentence 4: The link to the topic and thesis.
    1.Having a concrete idea with an excellent interpretation is good, but if you cannot link it to your thesis, then it means nothing. This sentence explains how your fact and interpretation support your topic sentence and thesis.
    E.Sentence 5: The second concrete fact.
    1.The concrete fact is a second reason that supports your topic sentence. It must be clearly written, giving one reason why the topic of this sentence is important. Do not explain anything in this sentence.
    F.Sentence 6: The interpretation of the second concrete fact.


    I wrote a booklet on paragraph and essay writing a while back. It might help. Let me know.

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    Re: Teaching Five Sentence Paragraphs

    Quote Originally Posted by panhunger
    Zap, I love that format, especially for speeches...

    HB, I'll PM you...

    Pee, my students are very capable of writing a lot of words. They are capable of very creative writing. I'm trying to get them to clean up their work. I'm trying to get them to see their mistakes, correct them, and re-write their work with those mistakes eliminated. It's a challenge to get them to value the process and to actually get them to become aware of their mistakes in their writing. I'm thinking that a more restricted writing format will help in this process.
    i understand Pan. One thing I sometimes do is write a dull unimaginative story and get them to develop it using adjectives, connectives etc. then the idea is already there, they have to bring it alive. the whole skills of proofreading, editing is a skill they have to be taught. blowing up and putting a students work on the board and refining it as a class is also effective. good luck.

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    Senior Member Array stfranalum's Avatar
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    Re: Teaching Five Sentence Paragraphs

    Quote Originally Posted by wangsuda
    Anyway, one type of paragraph outline is this:
    excellent ideas man. excellent.


    ive been teaching writing here- and pan- i know your situation. they can write (if in the mood) but getting it on paper is another story.

    heres what ive done:

    mindmap (connected bubbles).....each branch of the map is a connected thought. minimum of 6 bubbles per link.

    this will help get their lexicon revved up. it will also make them an invested participant in their writing. my students have mindmaps with minimum of 100 bubbles (A3 paper)

    we then write a 5 paragraph essay.

    i showed them how to write a supporting sentence, and thats it. im not going to be a stickler with grammar- its a never ending struggle.

    but the fine tuning of the paragraph is a tough nut for me to crack. wangsudas post was right up my alley with what i want to accomplish after the midterms.

    i think you just gotta set the bar high and not expect them to be perfect. they need to produce and learn PROCES writing.

    so back to my class....

    we have the big ol' mindmap....students write one fact essay and one opinion essay.

    they do a Peer Edit....and a second revision.

    Peer Edit II....and then a final copy.

    PM me if you want a copy of the peer edit forms i use. not bad, and to be frank, much imporessed by how well these thai uni student embraced the notion of giving advice to their classmates. quite successful if i may be so bold.

    this weekend i want to write a thread on 'lessons ive learned so far'...and will talk about this. but basically, they need to learn process writing. the idea that they write a piece and be done with it gives them a lot fo negative affective factors that affect their writing poorly---they simply overthink and want to be perfect. in writing, you need to just get it down on paper and WORK on the writing. this is a new concept for many thai students.

    it also gives the teacher ample examples to help them with. if we can see their thought process in writing, we can help steer them. a simple 1x essay is tough, because theres too many grammatical mistakes there to understand whats going on in their heads.

    oops- we also did a general "proposal" after the 100 bubble mindmap.

    the map and proposal serve as a guide for the peer edit. the editors look at the logic of the map- as well as their goals in the proposal. these give a rather good guide for the editor to make suggestions.

    also i didnt mention that these are small group projects. a group mindmap (60 bubbles) where each individual takes 1 branch and uses that as a start to their 100 bubble map.

    so...peer edit 1- done outside the group. a little "distance" for the rougher draft
    peer edit 2 done withing the group- working on more global ideas...so a group partner is a bit more familiar with the topics and direciton.

    process writing. its where its at

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