Teaching the 5 Paragraph Essay - Great Details in Support Paragraphs - Part 5

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It's All in the Details: Making Your Burger Taste Great-Part 5

 

How are the top buns? Are they toasted sesame seeds or the gourmet ciabatta? Teachers, by now your students should be able to write both Simple topic sentences as well as Detailed ones. As I advised earlier, the Detailed topic sentences will be easier to transition and support throughout the rest of your students’ essays. For this article I will give examples of paragraphs that start with both Simple and Detailed topic sentences.

 

Simple Does Not Always Mean Easy

 

      The Simple topic sentence is easy to write because all your students are doing is introducing the topic. This topic sentence is open ended and can be supported with a variety of details. This might sound easy, but when you look at the finished product, you will see the paragraph might not flow or transition fluidly from supporting detail to supporting detail. To make any paragraph work, students will have to organize their thoughts and follow the path they set out before beginning the writing process.

 

      Friends are people who are important in our lives. They make us feel special. They listen when we have problems. They have similar interests. Friends want to be with you all the time, no matter how you feel. Friends can be just as important as family.

 

The above paragraph is short and to the point. This is what you would expect from a Simple topic sentence. It is open ended, as the word important can be interpreted differently by each student. However, important also shows that the reader is going to take a more direct path.  The following is an example of a Simple topic sentence, that does not transition or flow.

 

      Homework, what’s the point? Teachers give students homework for no reason. I think teachers give homework because they are lazy. They want us to work at home too. This is ridiculous. I have other things I need to do. Homework is not important. When I go home I need to relax. I need to watch TV or chat on FB. Teachers are old, they don’t have a clue. I think they give us homework, because they are mean.

 

This Simple topic sentence paragraph feels like one run on thought. This is the kind of paragraph you should expect from your less eager students.  This is ok, because this is a step in the right direction.  From here it is your goal to guide your students to the Detailed topic sentence. Help them set up their path, and plan their writing. Once they have mastered the simple topic sentence paragraph, they will be on their way.

 

Condiments are Details too:

 

Let’s look at these paragraphs again, however, let’s provide each with a Detailed topic sentence. The Detailed topic sentence changes the flow of the paragraph. It gives voice to the author, and provides the reader with an idea of what is to come.

 

      --Friends are important, special, and make you feel good. A friend is a person who is important to you and you are important to them. Friends make us feel special. They listen when we have problems. They have similar interests. Friends want to be with you all the time, no matter how you feel. Friends can be just as important as family.

 

      --Homework is not a lesson, it doesn’t teach anything, and it is such a waste of time. I think teachers give students homework because they are lazy. They probably don’t want to teach the lesson in class, so they give it for homework. Don’t they know that without instruction, homework is not a lesson? I already learned how to multiply, I don’t need to do it again a thousand times on a worksheet. Homework doesn’t teach us anything, if anything it is a waste of time. This is a time that I could be talking with friends or spending time with my family. Homework sucks the life out me. If teachers were smart they wouldn’t assign anything, or they would assign something that has real value. Homework, what’s the point.

 

The following worksheet can be used to practice Detailed topic sentences with first supporting detail. Have your students complete the worksheet.

 

Main Ideas

 

Chinese New Year              Christmas             New Clothes                iPhones

Video Games               Sports            Teachers               Animals

Internet                 Bullies            Friends          Family

 

 

 

 

Directions: Choose five main ideas and write a Detailed topic sentence followed by one detail sentence.

 

  1. _________________________________________________

 

 

  1. _________________________________________________

 

 

  1. _________________________________________________

 

 

  1. _________________________________________________

 

 

  1. _________________________________________________

 

Now, extend the lesson by taking what they have written and build the burger. On a separate piece of paper have your student pick their clearest, most detailed topic sentence and have them start filling in the details.  Please use the following guidelines to set up the details.

 

Lettuce – Ketchup, Onion – Mustard, Tomato – Relish

 

  1. Write out your Detailed topic sentence.

 

  1. Write out your first detail sentence to support the topic sentence. It should be the first point you mentioned in the Detailed topic sentence. You can add another detail to further support this detail.

 

  1. Write one or two sentences to support your second detail.

 

  1. Write one or two sentences to support your third detail.

 

  1. **Write a final statement that concludes (ties everything together) your paragraph. In this statement you will need to restate your topic sentence (remember to use different words).

 

** In the next article I will discuss in detail how to write a conclusion.

 

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