The reason the 5-paragraph essay made its return was because teachers needed in-depth education and ongoing support in how to teach writing well. Without serious training in the art of writing, students' growth as writers is not likely. Writing is thinking and even the most innovative approaches to writing will fail if our teaching of writing is built on anything other than the belief that writing begins with a thought -- a deep thought that has pluses, minuses, and interesting implications. Also, the true craft of writing reflects what readers know -- how to use words and conjure images to make one's writing readable. Again, if the teacher cannot make this thinking visible, we will make no progress in an area where improvement is sorely needed.
I have a 7th grader and a 5th grader who needed to learn how to write a paragraph and an essay. Pattern Based Writing taught them that it was easier than they thought to put together a good essay. It teaches a very simple method for writing an essay. My boys hate writing, but with Pattern Based Writing, it was easy for them.
Lesson notes: Learning to write essays using the 5-paragraph technique takes lots of practice. Students should have many opportunities to sit down with the teacher one-on-one to discuss outlines and critique writing tasks. I have found this lesson to be more successful if you first spend lots of time only writing outlines. Slowly build on thesis, reasons, details, introduction, conclusion and transitions. It helps to assign a topic every lesson (or day) and then the next day working in pairs, students can critique each others’ essays underlining and labeling the elements of the 5-paragraph essay. Lastly, please, for the love of learning, and all that is good and bright in the world, add your own personality and above all, humor to your teaching. Just like how our essays should be interesting in order to be memorable, the more enjoyable your lesson, the more the students will get out of it.
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How To Teach The Five Paragraph Essay is a step-by-step plan for ..
I believe in the good old fashioned 5 paragraph essay for teaching elementary school students. There. I said it. It may not sound like much, but it’s a big deal in the world of writers and English teachers. I am both and I am being really brave by saying this.
If you want kids to learn to write an essay, an opinion or persuasive piece, or a report, the 3-5 is a good way to start. It provides a decent structure that will serve students and a foundational tool (notice the use of the word “tool” not “be-all-end-all”) in writing throughout their lives.
2) The five paragraph essay is ..
Right. The 5-paragraph essay and other formats are examples of scaffolding, a pedagogically sound teaching tool. In a perfect world, my sophomores will have mastered the craft of developing a central idea in writing (with organized, focused, and coherent support, consisting of relevant examples and their own reasoning) before they come to me. Then I can unfetter their voices, which must have been stifled all that time by academic structures, and allow them to choose, using their good judgement as seasoned writers of analysis, the most effective format in which to develop their claims. The reality is my students’ first experience with analytical writing is oftentimes their freshman year. With my 42 minutes of reading and writing instruction a day and the awareness that they will write essays in college, I am making the best judgement call I can. This call is based on my assessment of their writing, and they still need structure for organizing their ideas around relevant points.
We've been saying this same thing at National Writing Project as well as the multiple local writing project sites, but it's still a wonderful message to continue to convey. I think teachers are so overworked and battle weary that the 5 paragraph essay is sometimes a mindless, and easy choice. I've observed English teachers in my area who just give up and don't ask the kids to write anything but short answers and journals.
If there is a writing project site at a university near by, it's a worthy way to spend the summer in professional development. It transformed my teaching and opened up leadership opportunities for me. Thanks Ray (from another endangered species - a native Hawaiian English teacher)
the traditional 5 paragraph essay format
I follow this process to teach my students to write argumentative essays, and close reading of this method reveals that the form of it is also consistent with the traditional 5 paragraph essay format. (Narrative writing of course requires an entirely different format, which I teach using Freytag's pyramid model.)
So maybe you need to take another look at the Aristotelian method, and realize that teachers have many ways to teach writing that can be successful. I find it very interesting that in the end you feel you have to justify casting off the 5 paragraph method by bringing up the College Board's current counsel on the subject. Although you are quoting them as the authority on the subject, it has actually been my experience that they do not reject well written entrance essays based on numbers of paragraphs.