TITLE: SUCCESSFUL PARAGRAPHS AUTHOR: Martha Adams; Jefferson Elementary, Everette, WA Adapted from Mitzi Merrill; Staff Development Specialist, Snohomish, WA GRADE LEVEL/SUBJECT: 4-6; Language arts, writing OVERVIEW: When 4th - 6th graders are asked to write a paragraph, the result is often a few short, choppy sentences beginning with The, An, A, or I. This activity guides students through the writing process for a successful five-sentence paragraph with varied sentence beginnings. Repeating this process frequently with many, varied topics teaches students to use variety to create interesting paragraphs. OBJECTIVE(s): As a result of this activity, the students will each write a five-sentence paragraph with varied sentence beginnings, correct spelling and punctuation, and appropriate margins. RESOURCES/MATERIALS: Chalkboard or overhead for teacher sample, paper and pencil for students ACTIVITIES AND PROCEDURES: Each step in this activity should be modeled by the teacher and result in a sample paragraph for the students. 1. Each student lists three material things they wish for, three happenings that would make them happy, and three places they would like to visit. sample: THINGS HAPPENINGS PLACES Ferrari Peace on Earth Australia Diamonds Energy consciousness Jamaica Lottery More recycling Italy 2. Each student circles one favorite item from each list. The following five sentence patterns are used as each student writes his/her sentences. Sentences are all numbered and begun at the left margin in this step. A later step puts them in paragraph form. For each pattern, the teacher models first, students give oral examples, then students write their own sentences. 3. a. This is the opening or topic sentence. samples: Three things that would make me happy are a Ferrari, and energy conscious society, and a trip to Australia. If I had three wishes they would include....... _______, _________, and ________ are three things that would make me happy. Three sure ways to make me happy would be.... b. The second sentence begins with and -ing word and used the thing wished for. samples: Racing down the freeway in my Ferrari, I would be the envy of everyone I met. Owning a red Ferrari would probably net me many speeding tickets. Driving my zippy Ferrari would be sheer pleasure. c. The third sentence begins with "To" plus and action word and uses the happening wished for. samples: To live in an energy conscious society would make our lives healthier. To know that everyone was energy conscious would make me feel satisfied. To be aware of energy conservation should be of importance to all. d. The fourth sentence begins with a prepositional phrase and uses the place desired to visit. samples: During a visit to Australia, I would certainly see kangaroos. For visiting Australia, I would need a new camera. From a visit to Australia, I would learn about many different animals and plants. e. The last sentence is a concluding sentence beginning with a word such as finally, certainly, surely, etc. samples: Certainly my wishes are attainable. Surely I deserve all I wish for. Hopefully my wishes will come true before I'm 50. 4. Collect student papers and proof for spelling errors. 5. Return papers and have students rewrite in paragraph form. Discuss margins and any other criteria you will be using for scoring (ink, cursive, illustrated, etc.). TYING IT ALL TOGETHER: By using this step-by-step method frequently, students begin to use variety in sentence structure in their paragraph writing. When assigning a paragraph, one of the criteria could be that no two sentences start with the same word.
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