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Back to Basic Writing

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  1. Mini Unit: How to write a paragraph Back to Basic Writing MAD 2013

  2. Day 1: What is a Paragraph? What does a model Paragraph look like? • Opening: What is a paragraph brainstorming – divide into groups and use post-it paper to compile things that make up a paragraph. Discuss. • Work Session: Using sample paragraphs (attached) discuss the positives and negatives. Does it have all the things you listed? Using highlighters identify the topic sentences from various sample paragraphs. Begin this as a class then break into groups and finally individuals. • Closing: Pick students to share what highlighted and to restate what makes a good paragraph. MAD 2013

  3. Paragraphs • A paragraph is a group of sentences that presents a main idea and related details to a reader. • A paragraph can stand alone or can be combined with other paragraphs to create a longer paper. • The first line of a paragraph is indented. We do this so that readers know that a new idea is being introduced. MAD 2013

  4. Paragraphs • A good paragraph has the following key elements: • A focused topic • A main idea expressed in a topic sentence • Details supporting the main idea • A concluding sentence • Paragraphs vary in length. A meets paragraph is 5-7 sentences long, where a exceeding paragraph is 7-9 sentences long. MAD 2013

  5. Example Walking to Physical Fitness Walking is my favorite way to exercise. Walking thirty to forty minutes every morning is a great way to relax. When I walk with a friend, I can talk about the day ahead or share some challenges I am facing. When I walk by myself, I can meditate and get rid of my stress. Walking regularly also improves my general health. Fitness experts recommend an exercise routine to keep the heart strong. Furthermore, walking every day lessens my risk of disease. I know the positive effects walking has made in my life, and I will continue my walk to physical fitness. MAD 2013

  6. Example • “Walking to Physical Fitness” has all the elements of a good paragraph: • A focused topic: walking as a form of exercise • A main idea expressed in a topic sentence: Walking is my favorite way to exercise. • Details supporting the main idea: a great way to relax, walk with a friend, walk by myself, improves my general health, keeps the heart strong, lessens my risk of disease • A concluding sentence: I know the positive effects walking has made in my life, and I will continue my walk to physical fitness. MAD 2013

  7. Limiting a Topic • Limiting a topic is the first step in writing a strong paragraph. • Many topics are too broad to talk about in 7-9 sentences. • We must focus or limit the topic so that we can talk about it completely in a single paragraph. MAD 2013

  8. Limiting a Topic • 3 ways to narrow the topic “Childhood”: • Childhood • Birthday parties • The best birthday party I ever had • Childhood • My friends • My friends in the seventh grade • My best friend in seventh grade • Childhood • Summer vacations • Family trips • The time my family went camping • The night it rained and our tent collapsed MAD 2013

  9. Example Topic: Sports Sports • Indoor sports • Soccer • Girl’s Soccer • Girl’s soccer at Sandcreek Middle School • The girl’s soccer game at SMS on a specific date • The best shot in the girl’s soccer game at SMS on the above date MAD 2013

  10. Transitions • Help your paragraphs flow together. They link ideas so that they relate to one another in the same way similarly likewise while on the other hand although however as a result therefore finally in conclusion in summary lastly in addition MAD 2013

  11. Day 2: What is a GOOD Topic Sentence? • Opening: Topic Sentence PowerPoint (attached – tweak for your classes) • Work Session: Have a number of topics available (attached) to choose from. Have students select three topics and write, revise, and edit their topic sentences. Have them choose one to use for the rest of the week. • Closing: Have students share their topic sentences and get verbal feedback from the class and yourself. MAD 2013

  12. Topic Sentences MAD 2013

  13. Writing a Topic Sentence The topic sentence of a paragraph expresses the single main ideathe writer wants to communicate to the reader. All the other sentences in a paragraph explain the topic sentence. It keeps the writer on track as they write. It helps the reader understand the message of the paper. MAD 2013

  14. Writing a Topic Sentence • A topic sentence is neither too broad nor too narrow. • If it is too broad, you will not be able to discuss it in a single paragraph. • If it is too narrow, you will have difficulty writing an entire paragraph about the topic. MAD 2013

  15. Examples Too Broad: Mystery novels are fun to read. Too narrow: The last mystery novel I read was 300 pages long. Just Right: The plot of the novel May Tomorrow Never Come is suspenseful. Too Broad: Eating correctly is important. Too narrow: Spinach is an excellent source of iron. Just Right: An important step in preventing heart disease is eating fruits and vegetables daily. MAD 2013

  16. You Try It! Is it focused? Good teachers can be found in any school. Everyone can benefit from regular exercise. Good movies are hard to find. A good teacher listens patiently to her students. MAD 2013

  17. Writing a Topic Sentence A topic sentence has 2 parts: It names the topic. It expresses an idea about it. Example: Topic Sentence: Successful students know how to manage study time. Topic: Successful Students What about the topic? Know how to manage study time MAD 2013

  18. Examples Topic Sentence: Knowing how to study for tests is important in high school. Topic: Knowing how to study for tests What about the topic? Is important in high school Topic Sentence: Taking notes in class is another essential study skill. Topic: Taking notes in class What about the topic? Is another essential study skill MAD 2013

  19. Locating the Topic Sentence • A topic sentence can appear anywhere in a paragraph, but is often the first sentence. • Provides a road map for your reader. • Reader’s attention is focused on the main idea from the beginning. • Rest of paragraph is expected to support that main idea. MAD 2013

  20. Locating the Topic Sentence • A topic sentence can also appear as the last sentence in the paragraph. • Leads the reader to the topic sentence with supporting details. • Attracts the reader’s interest or adds suspense. MAD 2013

  21. Examples First sentence topic sentence: One important study skill critical for college success is doing homework completely. Students who are working for academic success know that it is important to follow the directions for each exercise. For example, if the math instructor has asked students to show all their work on a homework assignment, then the students should complete all steps of each problem. Successful students also attempt to answer all the questions in every homework assignment. If a problem is easy, the student can place a check mark next to it in the margin. If one of the problems is especially difficult, the student can place a question mark next to it as a reminder to ask the instructor for help. All in all, students who work hard to complete their homework to the best of their ability are well on their way to success in the classroom. MAD 2013

  22. Examples Last sentence topic sentence: Anthony sighs as he thinks about his humanities test on Friday. How should he prepare for the test? He has never taken a test in college, and now he faces studying three chapters on the history of Rome. Fortunately, his instructor provided a review sheet with key terms and concepts from each chapter. Anthony finds each term and concept in his textbook and highlights the related information. Then he reads through his class notes. Finally, he makes an index card for each item on the review sheet and records the information he wants to recall on the test. Afterward, he spends several hours reciting and reviewing the details on his note cards. Even though Anthony has never taken a college test, he has already discovered the importance of reviewing his textbook and his class notes and preparing study cards before each test. MAD 2013

  23. List of Topics – You try My Favorite Sport The Problems of Old Age The Life of a Teenager The Perfect Job The “MUSTS” for a Healthy Body The Best Season of the Year MAD 2013

  24. Extending and refining Link the idea of a topic sentence to the idea of a thesis statement using the following slides. MAD 2013

  25. Thesis Statement • A thesis statement tells the reader what the entire paper will be about. • It sets the structure for the essay. • Like a topic sentence, a thesis statement will have two parts. • It will state an opinion on one main idea and • List the topics you will use to prove your opinion. MAD 2013

  26. Thesis Statement • A strong thesis statement will: • Take some sort of stand. • Justify discussion of your topic. • Express one main idea. • Be specific. MAD 2013

  27. Thesis Statement Examples • Express one main idea. • Companies need to exploit the marketing potential of the Internet, and Web pages can provide both advertising and customer support. • This is a weak thesis statement because the reader can’t decide whether the paper is about marketing on the Internet or Web pages. To revise the thesis, the relationship between the two ideas needs to become more clear. One way to revise the thesis would be to write: • Because the Internet is filled with tremendous marketing potential, companies should exploit this potential by using Web pages that offer both advertising and customer support. • This is a strong thesis because it shows that the two ideas are related. Hint: a great many clear and engaging thesis statements contain words like because, since, so, although, unless, and however. MAD 2013

  28. Thesis Statement Examples • Take some sort of stand. • There are some negative and positive aspects to the Banana Herb Tea Supplement. • This is a weak thesis statement. First, it fails to take a stand. Second, the phrase negative and positive aspects is vague. • Because Banana Herb Tea Supplement promotes rapid weight loss that results in the loss of muscle and lean body mass, it poses a potential danger to customers. • This is a strong thesis because it takes a stand, and because it's specific. MAD 2013

  29. Thesis Statement Examples • Justify discussion of your topic. • My family is an extended family. • This is a weak thesis because it merely states an observation. Your reader won’t be able to tell the point of the statement, and will probably stop reading. • While most American families would view consanguineal marriage as a threat to the nuclear family structure, many Iranian families, like my own, believe that these marriages help reinforce kinship ties in an extended family. • This is a strong thesis because it shows how your experience contradicts a widely-accepted view. A good strategy for creating a strong thesis is to show that the topic is controversial. Readers will be interested in reading the rest of the essay to see how you support your point. MAD 2013

  30. Thesis Statement Examples • Be specific. • World hunger has many causes and effects. • This is a weak thesis statement for two major reasons. First, world hunger can’t be discussed thoroughly in seven to ten pages. Second, many causes and effects is vague. You should be able to identify specific causes and effects. A revised thesis might look like this: • Hunger persists in Glandelinia because jobs are scarce and farming in the infertile soil is rarely profitable. • This is a strong thesis statement because it narrows the subject to a more specific and manageable topic, and it also identifies the specific causes for the existence of hunger. MAD 2013

  31. Day 3: What are GOOD Detail Sentences? • Opening: Hand student groups a bag containing a topic sentence (labeled) and multiple supporting sentences (attached). Have them in a group construct a well- developed paragraph with the best support/detail sentences. Share and discuss. • Work Session: Have the students take their topic sentences and write detail sentences (3-5) to go with them. Have them share with their group and determine which three are the best then revise and edit those sentences to fit with their topic sentence. • Closing: Have students share what makes a good supporting detail sentence. MAD 2013

  32. MAD 2013 Main Idea & Supporting Details

  33. Main Idea • The main idea is the “big point” or the most important idea that the writer is communicating to the reader. • Often the reader can find the main idea just by looking at the title. • For example, a passage titled: “Why Students Should Have Less Homework” will include reasons for that idea. MAD 2013

  34. Read this short paragraph: Engineers create wealth for society. So, tennis is a game and the resources of the earth are scarce. Have you gone mad? Thus the only solution is to educate the public on being socially responsible. DID THIS MAKE SENSE?? MAD 2013 What’s the Point?

  35. It didn’t have a MAIN IDEA! We would go crazy if texts were written like this all the time. It was difficult to understand because it was made of different ideas that did not link. There was no common thread. The good news is that normal passages have main ideas! MAD 2013 OF COURSE NOT!!!

  36. Main Idea - is like the heart of the text or a paragraph. It is the controlling idea. All the other supporting details in the text or within a paragraph should tell us more about the main idea. MAD 2013 MainIdea ma

  37. Ask Yourself…. WHO or WHAT is this passage about?” MAD 2013

  38. Many paragraphs have topic sentences that indicate the main idea. • Find the topic sentence in this paragraph: Homeless people have many problems. In winter, it’s hard to stay warm and it gets too hot in summer. It’s also hard to keep things safe without a home. Worst is the lack of privacy. MAD 2013 The Topic Sentence

  39. Supporting details prove the value of the main idea. What are they here? Homeless people have many problems. In winter, it’s hard to stay warm and it gets too hot in summer. It’s also hard to keep things safe without a home. Worst is the lack of privacy. MAD 2013 Supporting Details

  40. Sometimes, a paragraph has a stated main idea usually in the topic sentence. This means the paragraph “says” what the main idea is. Sometimes, a paragraph doesn’t have a stated main idea, but has an “implied” main idea. This means that you need to state the main idea in your own words because it doesn’t actually “say” it in the paragraph. Let’s take a look at two examples… MAD 2013 Stated and Implied Main Idea…

  41. “The students had fun on their field trip.  They Visited  the Marine Museum.  They were able to tour a tug boat and they bought souvenirs in the gift shop.  After the tours they ate a picnic lunch in the park and played with their friends.” The underlined portion of the sentence is the main idea and is stated for the reader. MAD 2013

  42. “The Native Americans used the trees to build their houses. They hunted and trapped animals in the forest for food. They found roots and berries that they could eat. Some plants found in the forest were used for medicine.” In this paragraph, the main idea isn’t stated. However, by reading the paragraph, the reader can determine the main idea: Native Americans used resources in the forest to survive. MAD 2013

  43. All of the sentences in a paragraph should support the main idea of that paragraph. Information that does not support the main idea does not belong in the same paragraph. Take a look at the example on the next slide. Find the “extra” information that does not support the main idea… MAD 2013 Too much information…

  44. “Maria offered to help her mother clean the house. She vacuumed the living room and dusted the furniture. She picked up the toys in the playroom. She ate a ham sandwich for lunch. Then, she mopped the kitchen floor.” Which sentence does not support the main idea? MAD 2013

  45. “Winter provides the opportunity for many outdoor activities. Many people enjoy ice skating on a pond. Swimming in the pond in summer can also be fun. Skiing can be a thrilling experience too. After a new snowfall, you can even build a snowman!” MAD 2013 Find the sentence that does not support the main idea…

  46. Day 4: What is a GOOD Concluding Sentence? • Opening: Have a paragraph on the Smart Board missing its concluding sentence (attached). Have students compose their own sentence for the paragraph. Share and discuss what makes a good concluding sentence and what doesn’t. • Work Session: Have students write a concluding sentence for their paragraph. Have them share with their group and revise and edit their sentence. • Closing: Have students share what makes a good concluding sentence. MAD 2013

  47. Think of a Closing Statement for this paragraph Egypt is most famous for their pyramids. There are over 100 pyramids in Egypt but that information is unknown to many people. The most popular and well known pyramids are the Pyramids of Giza. They are located in Cairo. Pyramids were tombs for pharaohs. To complete the pyramids, workers hauled and lifted millions of limestone blocks that weighed an average of 2 and 1/2 tons each. They didn’t have iron tools or wheeled vehicles. The workers carried each stone by hand, pulled them on sleds, and lifted them up mud ramps to be placed on the slowly rising structure. MAD 2013

  48. Examples of Closing Statements • Now we are glad that the Egyptians worked so hard so that we can admire the beauty. • The pyramids have been standing in Egypt for a long time, and they still stand for people to see. • You can see why the Egyptian would be proud of all this hard work. • We hope that someday scientist will be bale to figure out how Egyptians built these ancient structures. MAD 2013

  49. Day 5: Show What You Know • Opening: Have a number of topics (attached) on the Smart Board. Review quickly what makes a good paragraph. • Work Session: Have students choose one of the topics and compose a well-written paragraph using the skills they have learned this week. • Closing: Answer any questions /comments they have and discuss. MAD 2013

  50. List of topics Choose one of the following topics and compose a well-developed, well-written paragraph. MAD 2013