What You Want Your Children to Know about Paragraphs September 29, 2009
(If your children or students are struggling with paragraphs… be sure to read “Teaching Children Paragraph Writing is Hard!)
The Different Kinds of Paragraphs
1. How-to Paragraph (Process Paragraph) – First, Next, Then, Finally
2. Compare and Contrast Paragraph – Eggplant is both good…and bad!
3. Descriptive Paragraph – It was a dark and stormy night, yet the moon had an enchanting glow.
4. Explanatory Paragraph – There are many reasons that “doctors” consider eggplant to be healthy.
5. Classifying Paragraph – There are two kinds of vegetables. There are bad vegetables and there are so-so vegetables.
6. Narrative Paragraph – It was a dark and stormy night, and Johnny had many chores that still needed to get done.
7. Persuasive paragraph – There are many reasons that parents should let children choose if they want to eat their vegetables.
8. Definition Paragraph – Some people think that being lazy is sitting around all day doing nothing. That is not true. A person might be thinking very deeply, and that is not lazy.
9. Evaluation Paragraph – Vegetables are not as good for you as many people think. In fact, there is much evidence indicating that vegetables are actually unhealthy.
Structure of a Paragraph
• Tell them, tell them, and tell them! Tell them what you are going to tell them. Tell them. Then tell them what you told them.
• You transitions smoothly and naturally between ideas.
• All of the sentences in a paragraph are connected. You should know how.
Strategies for Teaching Paragraphs to Children
• What idea does not belong in this paragraph?
• Which of these is not a paragraph?
• Follow this formula or pattern.
• Use this graphic organizer to map out your ideas and then write your paragraph.
• Explain, demonstrate, imitate, and practice.
• Topic sentence. Three details. Repeat topic sentence in a creative way.
• Use these words to create a paragraph.
• Pretend you are talking to someone who has no idea of what you are talking about. Maybe they are from another planet and you need to talk to them in a way that will make them understand… Understand?
Analogies of What a Paragraph Is
• A paragraph is a formula or pattern of ideas that you put together in a special way.
• A paragraph is a family of ideas that are all related and connected.
• A paragraph is a sandwich of ideas.
• A paragraph is a cohesive unit of ideas about one topic or main idea.
General Philosophies about Paragraphs
• A paragraph is 3-5 sentences.
• A paragraph is 5- 12 sentences.
• A paragraph is about one main idea.
• All other sentences in that paragraph must support that main idea.
• The sentences in the paragraph must be in a logical order.
• You start a new paragraph when you have changed to a new main idea.
• You can give information about the main idea OR you can explain the main idea OR you can give your opinion about the main idea.
• The topic sentence is usually the first sentence in a paragraph.
• The topic sentence usually contains the main idea of the paragraph.
• Topic sentence, supporting details, concluding sentence.
Main Idea and Topic Sentence
General and Specific
You can get children to repeat everything on this page like clockwork and have it all fly out the window when it is most important. If this happens, the reason is they don’t really understand what a main idea is or what a topic sentence is. They don’t understand “general” and “specific.” You have failed to get their mind around these concepts…
If they don’t truly understand these concepts… multi-paragraph writing will be VERY hard…
Fourteen years of teaching writing and I have perfected a way of making children understand these concepts and not just be able to repeat the words… (Be sure to go to the home page to check out the writing program…)