A Teacher's Guide: Tips on Writing an Organized Five Paragraph Essay
As a teacher of elementary and middle school students, one hurdle is teaching the skills to write an organized five paragraph essay. While there are many different methods to choose from, there is a simple formula that can be applied every time. By creating a strong thesis statement, using a graphic organizer, and implementing the introduction-body-conclusion format, your students can produce a well written five paragraph essay for any writing assignment.
The Thesis Statement is the backbone of any well written essay. As defined by Webster's Online Dictionary; "A thesis statement is the main point that is to be proven by an essay. Usually backed up by examples, the thesis statement is the theme of that whole piece." By dividing the thesis statement into three parts, you have effectively mapped out the three body paragraphs of the essay. This is often referred to as a 'three-prong' thesis statement. Each 'prong' or point mentioned in the thesis identifies the the topic sentence of one of the three body paragraphs. For example; If you are writing about soccer, your thesis statement might read like this: 'Commitment, strategy, and team work are important elements of a winning soccer team.' With this one sentence, you have told the reader that the main ideas of your body paragraphs are commitment to the sport, strategy of the game, and the importance of team work.
Once you have established a strong thesis statement, it is important to organize your thoughts and any supporting information. One of the most effective ways to do this is by using a graphic organizer. A good graphic organizer is simple yet effective, providing space for the writer to list all the facts relevant to their chosen topic. It provides a visual map to follow while writing the final essay. The most effective graphic organizers use shapes such as circles or squares, connected with lines to show the flow of information. It is important to remember that many students will need multiple copies of the graphic organizer as mistakes will be made. In addition to the thesis statement, and supporting details, the graphic organizer should help to organize the opening and closing thoughts. Remember that people usually remember the first and last thing that they read from any document.
As the author, it is important to grab the reader's attention with a strong attention getter or 'hook'. The most common attention getter is the question. 'Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a valued player on an amazing soccer team?' Another effective way to get the readers attention is to create a mental image that the reader can become part of. 'Crisp morning air whipped at my face, the smell of fresh cut grass in the air. Focus! Focus! Tom takes the ball. He is dribbling toward me, his feet moving fast. I center myself, ready and waiting. He passes! With one swift kick, I send the ball sailing passed the goalie to score the first point of the game!' The introduction of any writing assignment should begin with an attention getter, and once the reader's interest has been piqued, it is important to keep it. The introduction should tell the reader some basic information about the topic and then finish with the thesis statement. The following body paragraphs should give facts to support the three main points mentioned in the thesis statement. One paragraph dedicated to each point will create the three necessary body paragraphs. Each body paragraph should have a topic sentence, at least three supporting facts or details, and a closing sentence. The final paragraph of the essay is the conclusion. This is where you need to 'sum up' the information given in the body. One way to create a solid conclusion is to restate what is said in the introduction. Take the basic information, and even the thesis statement, and rewrite it. Be sure to include reasons why the information is important or helpful. Make the reader feel that their time was well spent. After completing the written assignment, it is important to remember to edit, edit, edit! A well written essay can be ruined by too many mistakes in grammar and sentence structure.
As a teacher, is is important to give students the strongest foundation for writing possible. Using the simple formula based on the three-prong thesis statement will give them a pattern to use with any writing assignment. By teaching them to use a graphic organizer to organize their thoughts and information before writing, the process becomes much easier. And, of course, following the standard five paragraph format will ensure that they are prepared for assignments throughout their education.
Sample Five Paragraph - Graphic Organizer: