Five Paragraph Essay Lesson Plans

Five Paragraph Essay Lesson Plans-48
We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were.” Thus, I encourage students, “Don’t wait until class to add something to your notebook. Don’t let it be a place that only has writing prompts from Mrs.Ebarvia.” (Side note: Talking about myself—or my teacher-self—in the third person is becoming habit, I fear.

We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were.” Thus, I encourage students, “Don’t wait until class to add something to your notebook. Don’t let it be a place that only has writing prompts from Mrs.Ebarvia.” (Side note: Talking about myself—or my teacher-self—in the third person is becoming habit, I fear.

As another school year gets underway, and before we settle back into tried-but-not-true practices, I thought I’d share how my own thinking about the 5-paragraph essay form has been challenged and how my practices have shifted, finally, to writing in the wild.

*** For years, I taught the 5-paragraph essay to my ninth-graders. I think one reason I taught it for so long was because it was all I ever knew as a teacher.

As a way of getting to because of three very specific reasons outlined in a thesis statement found at the end of an introduction.

Much has already been written about the limitations of the 5-paragraph essay form.

Fit your ideas into this fill-in-the-blank, I encouraged them.

No wonder when I started to teach eleventh- and twelfth-grade students that they struggled with writing and thinking beyond what the teacher required.*** Every year, when I ask students to tell me what they know about writing, they almost always recite a list of rules.They tell me how they were taught to never start a sentence with how the thesis statement always goes at the end of the introduction, how thesis statements need three reasons, how first person isn’t allowed in formal essays, how paragraphs are 6-8 sentences long, and on and on. It’s about getting closer—through repeated observation, approximation, and experimentation—to a deeper understanding of the world around us.In the United States, we’ve done a good job at doing the wrong things better, Richardson pointed out.For example, we might make improvements to standardized tests, but we don’t question enough if standardized tests themselves aren’t the problem. For a long time, I used a Band-Aid approach to teach writing.When students find out later that these rules aren’t really rules at all, they feel offended. Only then can something become a law, like gravity; otherwise, it’s all hypothesis.Shouldn’t that be how we approach writing, how we frame essays?In particular, I’d suggest looking up what college educators Paul Thomas and John Warner have written on the topic.While I suspect that many readers of this blog have already moved beyond the 5-paragraph essay, I admit that I have only recently begun to break free of this form.Let’s face it, teacher preparation programs don’t generally do a good job at teaching writing instruction.I went to the University of Pennsylvania for my graduate program, and while I learned a lot about education as a whole, two methods classes aren’t enough to teach anyone about what it really means to be a writer or to teach writing to others.

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