This month's Teaching Tip comes from How to Write a Paragraph, Grades 3-5.
They say that the longest journey begins with a single step. It is also true that the longest book, story , article, or essay begins with a single paragraph.A paragraph is the unit of a larger piece of writing just as a fabric square is the smaller unit of a quilt.Once you know how to write a good paragraph, you will be able to write many different kinds of things with confidence. So what is a paragraph? A paragraph is a short unit of writing that has a beginning, a middle. and an end. When you talk to your friends, you begin by getting them interested and letting them know what it is that you are going to be talking about. You might begin by saying, "Guess what!" or "You won't believe what just happened!"Next you go to the middle, which is where you give them all the important details, and in between the details, you say things like, "And then...." After you've given your friends all the details, you come to the end by saying something like, "And finally I...."
Now that you have an idea about how a paragraph works, here are the basics.
The first sentence of a paragraph is the topic sentence. It tells what the paragraph will be about. A sentence like, "I go to school," is a rather weak topic sentence because it doesn' t tell anything about what you will be saying about going to school. A topic sentence that says, "I go to a very strange school," is not only more interesting, it tells something about what you will be saying.
The sentences which follow the topic sentence add specific details to tell more about the topic. The details need to make the topic more interesting or help explain what you mean. Every sentence in the middle of the paragraph, or the body, needs to be about the topic stated in the topic sentence. If you were to use the topic sentence about going to a strange school, a middle sentence might say, "From a distance my school looks like a space ship."
The last sentence of your paragraph is the concluding sentence, or closing. This sentence reminds the reader of what the topic is about and what it means.For the paragraph about a strange school, this could be a closing sentence: "Because of its shape, location, and the strange noises coming from the factory down the hill, it is clear that I go to a strange school."
Just remember that every paragraph, just like every story or book, has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
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