• JP brings together several critical factors in the development of an effective school.

  • JP Associates offers our sites grant writing assistance. Take advantage of our experience writing successful grant requests.

  • JP works with schools providing training on how to ameliorate teacher weaknesses brought to light through the process of teacher evaluation.

  • JP partners with schools and districts across the country to provide intensive professional development for scientifically-based programs.

  • Common Core State Standards, Factors Influencing Student Achievement, Responsive Coaching, Teacher Evaluation, Autism
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

JP Associates, Inc
The School Improvement Specialists
Sign up for our Newsletter 

(516) 561-7803
Fax (516) 561-4066

Follow Us facebook-logo twitter-logo youtube-logo

How to write a paragraph in six easy steps

Kid Write Paragraph

 

The teachers at one of the schools with which we work participated in a discussion group about the importance of students becoming effective writers.  At the conclusion of the discussion, they agreed that writing skills are essential for success in college and in the work world.  They also came to a consensus that the teaching of writing in their elementary school must lay down the basics skills for writing from which students can build.

One of the teachers, Mr. Abernathy was looking for some clear steps on how to teach some of his struggling students how to write a paragraph.  He approached his coach, a JP School Improvement Specialist and she shared these six steps to writing a paragraph.  The coach, Kim, explained up front that these six steps could be done all in one lesson or may need to broken up for the more naïve students such as English Language Learners. In other words, Mr. Abernathy, needed to assess his students (something he had been doing on a consistent basis using formative assessments) and then differentiate instruction as indicated. 

Kim also explained that it was important that Mr. Abernathy bring each student to mastery on each step before moving on to the next step.

The Six Steps

Step One: Ask students to read the assignment

Example: Please write a paragraph on the favorite thing you like about yourself. Call on several students to tell the favorite thing they like about themselves. Choose one sentence to model.

Step Two: Write the main sentence

Teacher:  The first thing I need to do is write a Main Idea sentence. This is also called a topic sentence.  The Main Idea tells what the paragraph will be about. The main idea of our paragraph is to tell what is the favorite thing you like about yourself? What is the main idea or topic of our paragraph- teacher verifies: Yes, the main idea of our paragraph is “What is the Favorite Thing About Myself?”

The teacher calls on a student and asks, “What is the favorite thing you like about yourself?”

Example:

Student: I like my personality the best. The favorite thing I like about myself is my personality.

The teacher should call on several students for responses making sure each sentence starts with “The favorite thing I like about myself is ____________,” and then chooses one to model.

Teacher: Tell me what specifically about your personality you like.

Student: I like that I am friendly and make friends quickly.

Teacher: “Yes, now put that in a complete sentence.”

Student: “My favorite thing about myself is how friendly I am and how I make new friends quickly. “

The teacher should accept all reasonable answers (if necessary, model the complete sentence for the students using yourself as the subject). 

 

Step Three: 3 Rules about Sentence Writing

Teacher (As you write say), “Rule One for writing a first sentence in a paragraph. I am moving in from the margin to start the first sentence. This is called indenting. Here’s a rule: The first sentence of a paragraph is always indented. Listen again; the first sentence of a paragraph is always indented. Say the rule.

Students respond: “The first sentence of a paragraph is always indented.”

Teacher verifies: “Yes, the first sentence of a paragraph is always indented.”

Teacher: “Rule Two, I started the sentence with a capital letter. Here’s a rule. The first word of a sentence starts with a capital letter. Listen again: The first word of a sentence starts with a capital letter. Say the rule.”

Students respond:  “The first word of a sentence starts with a capital letter.”

Teacher verifies: “Yes, the first word of a sentence starts with a capital letter.”

 

Teacher: “Rule Three. This sentence tells, so I put a period at the end of the sentence. Here’s a rule: Put a period at the end of every sentence that tells. Listen again; put a period at the end of every sentence that tells. Say that rule.”

Students respond: “Put a sentence at the end of every sentence that tells.” with the rule and then the teacher verifies:

Teacher verifies: “Yes, we put a period at the end of every sentence that tells.”

 

Differentiation tip: If when Mr. Abernathy pre-assesses his students and determines that several students don’t understand when a sentence tells something and when it is a sentence that questions, that pre-requisite skill must be taught first to those students in a small group setting.

 

Step Four: Supporting Details

Teacher:  “Now we need supporting details. Supporting details tell more. Tell me more about the main idea.” Call on individual students. In the example we are writing, tell me some details about why you like to make new friends.

As before, if a student gives an incomplete idea, ask them to tell you more. If they do NOT use a complete sentence, acknowledge the good idea and ask them to say it in a complete sentence. Model a complete sentence if necessary. Write the sentences on the board.

Example:

Student 1: When I make new friends I learn new things. (Have students start each sentence with “When I make new friends _____________.”) Write the sentence on the board

Teacher: Good. You were specific and you put in the form of a complete sentence. When I make new friends I learn new things. What new things have you learned from your friends?

Student 1: It is interesting.  I have learned about their holidays which are different than mine. I learned what it’s like to be in a big family.

Teacher: So, in your first sentence I learned that you like making new friends because you learn new things. Now, I know 2 of the new things you learned were about their holidays and you also learned what it’s like to be a member of a big family. Can you tell me that in a sentence(s)?

Student 1:  Some of the new things I learned were about my friends’ holidays. I also learned what it is like to be part of a big family.(Write the sentence on the board)

Teacher (As you’re writing, say, again):  "I started the sentence with a capital letter. Remember the rule. The first word of a sentence starts with a capital letter. Say the rule." Signal

Student 1: "The first word of a sentence starts with a capital letter.

Teacher Verifies: "Yes, the first word of a sentence starts with a capital letter."

Teacher: "This sentence tells, so, again, I put a period at the end of the sentence. Here’s a rule: Put a period at the end of every sentence that tells. Say that rule." Signal.

Student 1: "Put a period at the end of every sentence that tells."

Teacher Verifies: "Yes, put a period at the end of every sentence that tells."

Get a total of 2 or 3 supporting sentences from several individual students, but choose sentences from one student to write on the board.

Teacher: "That is great information and again, you put in the form of complete sentences."  Call on another student

Student 2:"I like making new friends because I get to play more games."

Teacher: "Can you tell me more about the kinds of games you play with your friends?"

Students 2: "We play video games and we play baseball."

Teacher: "Great answer. Nice details. From our first sentence I learned that you like making new friends. Now, I learned that you like making new friends because it gives you the opportunity to play more games like video games and baseball. Can you give me that in a sentence(s)?"

Student 2: "I like making new friends because I get to play more video games. I also get to play baseball."

 

Step Five: Conclusion

Teacher: “Now, we need a conclusion, or concluding sentence. A concluding sentence finishes the paragraph. Tell me how you would finish up your paragraph?”

Student: “I am glad I am friendly because making new friends and learning new things is fun and exciting.”

Teacher writes the sentence on the board reviewing rules for sentence writing as above.

The final paragraph on the board would look like this:

     My favorite thing about myself is my personality. I like how friendly I am and how I make new friends quickly.  When I make new friends I also learn new things. Some of the new things I learned about were my friends’ holidays. I also learned what it is like to be part of a big family.I am glad I am friendly because making new friends and learning new things is fun and exciting.

 

Step Six: Student Review

Teacher: “Let’s review what we did:”

Teacher: “First, we wrote a main idea or topic sentence that told what the paragraph would be about. What did we write first?”

Student: “A main idea sentence.”

Teacher:  “Yes, a main idea sentence.  Next, we wrote supporting sentences that told more about the main idea. What did we write next?”

Student: We wrote supporting sentences that told more about the main idea.

Teacher: “Yes, we wrote supporting sentences that told more.  Last, we wrote a conclusion that finished the paragraph. What did we write last?”

Student:  “We wrote a conclusion that finished the paragraph.”

Teacher: “Yes, a conclusion that finished the paragraph.”

Teacher: For each sentence, we followed these rules.  The first rule is we indented the first sentence of the paragraph.  Say the rule?”

Student: “Indent the first sentence of the paragraph.”

Teacher: “Yes, indent the first sentence of the paragraph.” The second rule is we started every sentence with a capital letter. Say the rule.”

Student: “Start every sentence with a capital letter.”

Teacher: “Yes, start every sentence with a capital letter.” The third rule is we put a period at the end of every sentence that tells. Say that rule.”

Student:  “Put a period at the end of every sentence that tells.”

Teacher: “Yes, put a period at the end of every sentence that tells.”

 

Follow up:

Have the student write down the paragraph. Continue to use this instructional format as a model for the students’ next five writing assignments.  The teacher should model each assignment as above.  During the fifth repetition, (adjust according to student needs and assessments) upon completion of the model paragraph, erase what you wrote on the board and have students write their own paragraphs.

Conclusion:

An effective strategy for instruction is to break the information into the smallest units of information and then teaching those units in the proper sequence and checking for mastery. The six steps above are examples of how this can be applied to paragraph writing and is effective both as strategy for introducing students to this information the first time and for struggling students.

Next Blog Post: How to manage independent learning for paragraph writing

Find Us on Facebook!

JP’s Services

  • Detailed Needs Assessment
  • Customized Professional Development
  • Grant-writing
  • Strategies for serving students with Autism
  • Creating a positive school/classroom culture
  • Leadership training and coaching
  • Common Core State Standards
  • Effective Instructional Practices
  • Differentiating Instruction
  • Effective Reading Instruction
  • Job-embedded, side-by-side, onsite coaching
Login

Login Form