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Thursday, August 29, 2013

DIY 5 Paragraph Essay Templates: A Creative, Metacognitive Tool


Although there is a common formula to writing a five-paragraph essay, students soon learn that each teacher has their own unique preferences.  I can remember a teacher that didn’t allow students to use the transition, “on the other hand,” unless they had already used, “on the one hand.”  Some insist on transitional sentences, others do not.  Some want a student’s thesis statement in the middle of the introduction, while others want it at the beginning or even at the end.  As a result, students have to adjust their writing to accommodate each new teacher.  How can this be done?

Help Your Students by Reviewing Your Expectations: 
At the beginning of the school year, it is important for each teacher to share his or her expectations, preferences and requirements so that each student can prepare for success from the very beginning.   
        1.     Provide a lesson and a handout that reviews the 5 paragraph essay.  Make sure to discuss everything you want in your introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusions.
        2.     Review and define important terms such as:
               ·   thesis statement
               ·   topic sentence
               ·   transitional words
               ·   transitional sentences
               ·   supporting details
               ·   quotes and examples
               ·   catchy opening
        3.     Introduce the idea that you will be asking the students to make their own, creative, 5 paragraph essay template.  You can even turn it into a contest and let the students vote on their favorite.

Help Your Students Create Their Own Essay Template:
One of the best ways to help your budding writers is to ask them to create their very own essay template.  This can be a fun assignment, and I have found that if my students are a part of the creative process, they will most likely “get it” and “use it.” 

Steps to Creating a Clever and Creative Essay Template:
This activity can be done collaboratively with your students, in small groups, or it can be given as a class or homework project so each student can exercise their own ideas: 
        1.     Ask your students to come up with a fun and creative name for their templates.  Thinking up a catchy title always helps to integrate the fun factor.
        2.     Encourage your students to bring color and images into the project.
        3.     Explain to your students that they can choose their own format.  Then make some suggestions and let the students brainstorm in small groups or independently.  Some possible ideas to get you started are:
·   Create a PowerPoint or Prezi presentation
·   Create a web, flow chart or diagram
·   Create an outline.
·   Write a poem, song or rap.

What are the Benefits of Creating an Essay Template:
        1.     Develops metacognitive skills.
        2.     Permits students to be creative.
        3.     Helps to uncover misconceptions.  Always be sure to look closely at each template to assure that each student integrates all the needed components.
        4.     Offers a tool or strategy that the students can use through the school year.
        5.     Teaches an approach that students can use with each new teacher that they encounter in the future.  Your students can always share their template and then make any needed alterations.
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If you like this writing organizer, you can get this and many more by purchasing Planning, Time Management and Organization for Success.  Be sure to download the free samples on the product page!  I hope you found this idea helpful.  I would love to hear your thoughts.
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Go Dyslexia, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to https://godyslexia.com/www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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