How To Write 5 Paragraph Essay

Not only are the jars unyielding to the touch, but even their number and order are fixed. I’ve written previously about how students generally focus on whatever we focus on.There are five of them, which, according to the recipe, need to be filled in precise order. This means that if most of the instruction heading into an essay is about the five-paragraph form and the rubric assigns the most points to following the form, then the message sent to students is that form is what matters most.We then end the study by thinking through a variety of hypothetical arguments and discussing how to best structure each to meet the audience and purpose, and this leads directly into the students writing their own essays where the approach and structure are entirely up to them.

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Instead, before the first essay my class does a genre study on the five-paragraph essay.

s a high school teacher, I assume that my students have all probably encountered the five-paragraph essay before, so on the first day I put up the following question for each section of the classic five-paragraph essay: The students then work in groups, drawing upon every “hamburger” how-to-write-a-five-paragraph-essay lecture they’ve heard since elementary school, to piece together the rules for each part of the essay. This begins the inquiry in earnest and gets them thinking about the goals of argumentation.

The rationale is–and I recognize that this is controversial–that there are some very good reasons why teachers teach the five-paragraph essay.

One of these is captured by Sheppard is right that writing is not natural.

As a writing teacher, one of the most common questions I’m asked is how do I handle the five-paragraph essay.

If I’m being honest, until relatively recently, I tried my best to avoid this question, as discussion of the five-paragraph essay is the writing instruction equivalent of talking about politics at Thanksgiving.

This is especially true when it comes to argumentative writing, which is particularly complicated and intimidating for many students.

The five paragraph essay is meant to teach these students a clear and tested template for argumentation that can also act as a handrail to guide and guard students as they learn about argumentation.

But underneath the approach is actually quite different.

It grants far more autonomy, is inquiry based, and requires students to transfer their knowledge (which Doug Fisher, Nancy Frey, and John Hattie argue is the deepest form of learning).


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