5-paragraph essay

Discussion in 'General Education' started by DaTeach, Jan 17, 2009.

  1. DaTeach

    DaTeach Comrade

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    Jan 17, 2009

    I'm having great difficulty teaching this year's class writing. Nothing I have done works for about a third of the class. I've tried graphic organizers, I model a lot, we work in small groups, peer-editing/revising. I'm ready to throw my hands up and give up. I've never felt this way before. All of the other classes got it, almost every one. We have been doing this since October. Yesterday I told a student to rewrite his introduction, and he asked me,"What's that?" UGH! Our state test is the 2nd week of March. Does anyone have a unique graphic organizer or any links that will help?
     
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  3. queenie

    queenie Groupie

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    Jan 19, 2009

    Have you tried four square? Sorry to elaborate if you have, but this worked well for my second graders this year.

    You fold a sheet of notebook paper into four squares and then unfold it. You draw a line over each crease. Then you draw a long rectangle in the center that takes up the width of the paper from red line to red line and for about 2 spaces tall.

    Now, number the center rectangle 1, the top left corner 2, the top right corner 3, the bottom left corner 4, and the bottom right corner 5.

    In the center rectangle (1), the students write their topic sentence.

    In squares 2, 3, and 4, students write their three main ideas with bulleted details under each.

    In square 5, students do their "wrap-up" or conclusion.

    They can decide which transitional words or phrases to use for each paragraph and even add them right on to the organizer. When the G O is finished, they must simply put their ideas into complete sentences!

    Of course my students don't write more than a paragraph yet, but we will be making the transition soon (I hope!) and I can see that this would work VERY well with five paragraphs!

    Message me if you need more info about this!
     
  4. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    Jan 19, 2009

    I like the 4 square idea!

    I have no tips, but a vent. I 'won' an hour of my P teaching my class during a staff meeting. She taught writing the other day. She completely ignored my plans (which I don't mind), but told them that they will never use a 5 paragraph essay in their careers :mad:. The next day, they told me this. I was angry! I picked up a copy of Little Women. I told them when they learned to read, they did not pick up a book like that. Instead, they read picture books. They have worked up to big books. It is the same way with writing. I just hope I don't hear "but we don't need to do this" from some kids in the future.
     
  5. DaTeach

    DaTeach Comrade

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    Jan 19, 2009

    yes, I've tried 4-square. Some of my students just don't get it....
     
  6. DaTeach

    DaTeach Comrade

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    Jan 19, 2009

    I agree with you about the 5-paragraph essay. My students are basically learning writing for the first time. This is the best way to teach beginning writers to write, especially when most of my FOURTH graders cannot write a complete sentence and PUNCTUATE IT AND BEGIN WITH A CAPITAL LETTER! They have been corrected a million times. They can correct it on a test, but when they write, they do not follow grammar rules. It is so frustrating I want to shake someone!!!
     
  7. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Jan 19, 2009

    The 5 paragraph essay has it's place in teaching...the problem is when that becomes the ONLY thing they learn how to do. It irks me to see high school jr's and sr's writing in this formant, but definately not elementary school kids.
     
  8. Writer's Block

    Writer's Block Companion

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    Jan 19, 2009

    I don't like teaching the five-paragraph essay.

    What if the kid says what he has to say in three paragraphs, it's organized, focused, good spelling and sentence structure...etc.? Does that mean he fails the assignment?

    What if they need six or seven paragraphs to make their point?
     
  9. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Jan 19, 2009

    This is true, but doesn't take away from the fact that the 5 paragraph essay is a good starting point. If done "right" kids should have outgrown the need for such a thing within a few years of its introduction. You have to start somewhere. Smaller kids, particulary the age range the OP teaches, need something to help them get organized. As the kids grow and mature in both life and writing, they shouldn't need the form anymore.
     
  10. DaTeach

    DaTeach Comrade

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    Jan 19, 2009

    I don't have to worry about that problem, Writers Block! The few of my students that can manage 5 paragraphs barely do the minimum! If you have better suggestions please lay them on me. I'm open to anything.
     
  11. LiveNLearn

    LiveNLearn Comrade

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    Jan 19, 2009

    I do a "paper bag" writing assignment at the beginning of the year that is very guided so that the kids do it right.
    Each child brings 3 things from home that tells us something about their personality.
    Introduction: Introduce self and list 3 things in bag.
    Body Paragraphs: 1 Paragraph per item. Describe the item and why you brought it.
    Conclusion: Now you know a few things about me, etc.

    Throughout the year, when we do 5 paragraph essays, I continually refer back to the "paper bag" writing assignment. It makes sense to them because everyone did it correctly.
     
  12. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Jan 19, 2009

    That's a nice assignment, LiveNLearn. I agree that while the only place students will ever need to write a 5-paragraph essay is in school (my university profs call it "phony academic writing"), we need to give them a structure to build on. When I tell my seniors that I do not want the 5P essay, they want to know why it's been crammed down their throats for so many years. I tell them it's like building a house - you need a foundation before you can put up the walls, and you have to make sure those are solid before you can paint and decorate.
     
  13. Dills

    Dills New Member

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    Jan 19, 2009

    Your 'paper bag' assignment is terrific. Is it original? I love it because it's personal to each student and therefor very motivating. More interesting and structured than, "Tell me something about yourself."

    I'm an RSP teacher for students 2-6 (currently), and writing is the most difficult topic for them, probably because it's usually more idea driven. Even expository writing, dealing with reasons, details and facts, requires writing that is either sequenced, organized, cohesive, and synthesized, and maybe all of those.

    I intend to introduce the paper bag topic when we're finished with our current writing projects. It's a great strategy. Thanks so much.
     
  14. sue35

    sue35 Habitué

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    Jan 19, 2009

    I do the hamburger method. The bun is the intro, the lettuce is the first detail paragraph and so on.
     
  15. mustang sally

    mustang sally Rookie

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    Jan 19, 2009

    I use the hamburger method, too. MOST of my students have done well with this graphic. The problem I have is getting them to understand you must indent each paragraph at the beginning of the line--not in the middle!! They have come so far. At least they know what sentences and punctuation are!!
     

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