Skip to main content

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.
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 &  
Follow on Bloglovin

Popular Posts

Back to School: Planning, Time Management and Organization Instruction

Many teachers can not fathom how apparently simple tasks such as using an agenda or turning in an assignment can be very difficult for some of their students.In fact, many students need comprehensive instruction and scaffolding to learn to plan, manage time, and organize.Executive functioning, which encompasses these skills is the last part of the brain to fully develop, and in actuality, does not reach maturation until students reach their early 20's.
How Hard Can it Really Be to Plan, Manage Time and Organize? I have to admit, when I first started working with students that struggled with executive functioning, I was surprised how challenging planning, time management and organization could be for some of my young, bright learners.What seemed to be clear and obvious was obscure, taxing and problematic for them.
These Students are Often Misunderstood: Instead of compassion and strategies, students that have difficulties with executive functioning are often intimidated, harassed and m…

Help for Struggling Readers: Creating Your Own Color Overlays

You can create your own overlays by using whole sheets or cutting strips of transparent, colored report covers, dividers or overhead projector film. 

Step one: Buy a variety of colorful transparent sheets.  You can use - color, transparency filmcolor, transparent report covers (plastic)color, transparent dividers (plastic)

All of these options can be found at office supply stores.
Step two:  Everyone is different.  Let your students try out the different colors and see which one they like the best. Step three:  For some students, keep whole sheets so that students have the option of changing the background color of the entire page of text.  Other students might like a thin strip of color, as it can help with tracking from one line to the next.  I make them a variety of lengths and widths, and often let students decide for themselves.  Note: The strips also make wonderful book marks. 
Step four (optional):  Place a plain sticker on the end of the overlay strip or the bottom of a whole sheet…

10 Free Ways to Improving Visual Tracking for Weak Readers

While reading, tracking across the page from one line to the next can be tricky when the text is small, but for students with dyslexia or weak reading skills, it can be a problem regardless of the font size. 
What Exactly is Tracking? Tracking is the ability for one's eyes to move smoothly across the page from one line of text to another. Tracking difficulties happen when eyes jump backward and forward and struggle to stay on a single line of text.  This results in problems such as word omissions, reversals, eye fatigue, losing your place while reading and most importantly it can impact normal reading development.  
Can Tracking be Improved? Tracking can be improved by strengthening eye muscles as well as getting your eyes and brain to work cooperatively.  There are three eye movements that need to be developed:   Fixations: The ability to hold one's eyes steady without moving off a target.Saccades: The ability to jump to new targets that randomly disappear and reappear in a dif…

Multisensory Teaching Accommodates the 12 Ways of Learning

Teachers are always trying to reach more learners and improve retention.  One of the best ways to do this is to employ a variety teaching methods.  This involves integrating the 12 ways of learning into instruction.  Here is an infographic that reviews the 12 ways of learning and provides some statistics on how learning improves when teachers implement multisensory instruction.

Here is an image of the same infographic that can be shared on Pinterest.

Here are direct links to:
A free Prezi on multisensory teachingA free video on the 12 Ways of LearningThe Eclectic Teaching Approach
I hope you found this to be informative and inspiring.  If you have any thoughts you would like to share, please leave a comment below this blog post. 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 an…

Following Directions: How Do I Teach this Skill?

Learning to follow directions is a crucial milestone in any student’s learning program.  It is the foundation of learning and difficulties in this area can impact a student’s ability to take notes, follow a sequence of steps, as well as show their knowledge on written assignments and even multiple-choice tests.

Even if a student is listening carefully or reading and rereading text, it doesn’t mean that they will succeed at following directions.  Weaknesses in attention, executive functioning, and language processing (both auditory and visual) can present as great obstacles for these students.  So what can be done about this?

We need to teach students how to follow directions.  They need to learn the subtleties of linguistic cues.  They need to learn to carefully analyze each word and then know how to decipher what it all means.

Whether it involves listening comprehension (auditory, receptive language) or understanding written directions (reading comprehension), there are a number of…

15 Ways to Nurture a Growth Mindset in the Classroom

How can we nurture resilient, active learners that embrace challenging academic material and become successful lifelong learners? Carol Dweck suggests that what we need to do is help students shed a fixed mindset and adopt a growth mindset. What's more, Dweck contends that developing a growth mindset will also result in less stress and a more productive and fulfilling life. 

What is a Fixed and Growth Mindset?
In a fixed mindset, students believe that their abilities are dependent on fixed traits that can not be changed such as intellect or talent. Individuals that think this way, often cultivate a self-defeating identity, feel powerless, and many struggle with a sense of learned helplessness. In contrast, students with a growth mindset accept that abilities and aptitude can be developed with persistence and effort. As a result, these individuals are not intimidate by failure, because they realize that mistakes are a part of the learning process. They continue working hard despite a…

Remediating Dyslexia with Orton Gillingham Based Reading Games

Students with dyslexia and other language-based learning disabilities often learn differently and require an alternative approach to learning basic reading.  What's more, these young learners are working full tilt while sitting in the classroom and by the time they get home and have to complete their homework, they are mentally spent.  As a result, tagging on remedial reading lessons to a cup that is already overflowing can be enough to turn these kids off to learning altogether.

How Do We Help These Students Learn the Core Skills Needed to be Successful Readers?
First, use a remedial program that is backed by time, testimonials and research.  The Orton-Gillingham approach to reading is a well-established and researched approach that offers a multisensory, sequential, incremental, cumulative, individualized, and explicit approach.  There are many programs that are available.  Click here to learn about a selection of these programs. Second, employ an individualized approach as each …

Improving Spelling for Students with Dyslexia

Not all students require the same remedial process even though they struggle with the same academic difficulties.  Diverse combinations of cognitive processing weaknesses and deficits can unite to create the "perfect storm" that can cause challenges with reading, math, writing, spelling and more.  In fact, no two students have the same cognitive profile, so to provide the optimal solution, one needs to consider both a student's strengths and weaknesses when designing a remedial approach.  

Occasionally, I like to present the questions emailed to me from parents and teachers.  This week, I will share an email that I received from a parent in England as well as my response.

Email received: 

Hi there:
Love the website!
Our son (age 8) is dyslexic and we have been told that he has a good visual memory (so he can easily spot a correctly spelt word and can even easily distinguish the correct meanings of similar sounding words e.g. sea and see). However, he has poor memory retrieval…

How Can I Improve my Executive Functioning?

Executive functioning, or what I like to call the conductor of the brain, is the process of the mind gathering together and making sense of all the information we receive from our instruments or senses.  Helping us to create meaning from what we see, hear, touch, taste and experience, executive functioning also allows us to focus our attention, think about new information, and make connections to what we already know.  
Many teachers and parents have trouble understanding how simple tasks such as remembering appointments, using an agenda or turning in assignments can be difficult, but unfortunately these and other similar tasks can be extremely challenging for some individuals.  However, the good news is the part of the brain that manages executive functioning, which is called the frontal lobe, continues to develop through high school and college.  Therefore, many kids that struggle with executive functioning can significantly improve their abilities.
You Might have Executive Functionin…