Category Archives: Craft of Writing

How to #Teach the Basics of the #5ParagraphEssay With a #Thesis Graphic Organizer

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Handout for Teaching Introduction to Thesis Statements and the Five Paragraph Essay FormatIn our school district, students are first introduced to the fundamentals of a five paragraph essay in the sixth grade. It’s a brand new concept to them, so I teach them the most basic thesis, which uses three main points, before we embark on the writing of our first five-paragraph essay.

If you’re unfamiliar with this method of organizing an essay, it’s pretty simplistic. The writer chooses a topic like, say, pets for example. Then he/she writes a thesis that is designed to prove which of the three kinds of pets is the best. So I might have  a thesis that looks something like this:

If I had my choice between horses, cats, and dogs, I’d choose dogs as the ideal family pet.

Now the writer embarks on the creation of an essay that proves this thesis. He/she must include an introduction (which typically precedes the thesis), a paragraph about the first main point (horses), a follow-up paragraph on the second main point (cats), and a paragraph in which they praise the third main point (dogs). Finally, they re-state the thesis with a summary at the start of the final paragraph and wrap the whole thing up with a couple of sentences of conclusion.

This is, at its foundation, a persuasive essay. It’s a tough thing for concrete-operational learners to grasp–the fact that an essay, with a person’s opinion embedded in its body, can follow a specific structure. Yet this format is used for public speaking quite universally. So it’s an important skill to teach and to have students learn.

For today’s post, I’m sharing the Thesis Statement Graphic Organizer that I use whenever I’m starting my unit on persuasive five-paragraph essays. I hope you’ll find it as helpful as I have, for simplifying the essay for those concrete-operational learners.

Once they’ve finished filling out the organizer, you can even have them cut this graphic organizer into strips, lining up their pieces in this order:

  • on top: the thesis
  • next: topic one’s list of facts
  • next: topic two’s list of facts
  • next: topic three’s list of facts

Now have them write a re-stated thesis with a summary, cut it out, and stick it at the bottom. Each of these pieces will represent a single paragraph in their essay. This is a particularly helpful exercise for tactile learners.

 

(This is a re-post of an older post on thesis statements.) If you like my free printable worksheets, game ideas, and educational videos, please show your appreciation by liking, tweeting, and pinning! Thanks!

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#EnglishEd: How to Teach Apostrophes

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Image shows an example of how to teach apostrophes, demonstrating that an apostrophe acts as a divider to show possession. EnglishEmporium.WordPress.com is the URL pictured in the bottom right corner  of this pictograph. If you visit English Emporium, it offers an explanation for how to use the pictograph to make the apostrophe concept make sense to your students.

Please visit EnglishEmporium.WordPress.com for great tips and tricks on how to teach concepts for English and reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This pictograph shows how to teach apostrophes in a way that students will understand and retain. Draw the pictograph on your whiteboard or show this pictograph on your projector. Explain that the apostrophe acts as a divider.

Let’s start with the red divider. The red divider shows that only one cow “owns” the spots we’re talking about.

The yellow divider shows that multiple cows “own” the spots.

Now that you’ve shown your students this pictograph, erase part of the “divider” line or project the following image:

Image shows an example of how to teach apostrophes, demonstrating that an apostrophe acts as a divider to show possession. EnglishEmporium.WordPress.com is the URL pictured in the bottom right corner of this pictograph. If you visit English Emporium, it offers an explanation for how to use the pictograph to make the apostrophe concept make sense to your students.

Please visit EnglishEmporium.WordPress.com for great tips and tricks on how to teach concepts for English and reading.

The arrow still points to the owner of the spots.

For more examples and helpful tips on teaching apostrophes, please visit my apostrophes page, right here on English Emporium.

Topics for #ResearchPapers: #Artists List for #Teachers @ EnglishEmporium.WordPress.com

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Image of a scanned list of artists and painters in alphabetical order.

Visit EnglishEmporium.WordPress.com for more free teachers’ tools, worksheets, and lesson plans.

When I was a brand-new English teacher, I used to wonder what topics to use for research papers. The first time I tried teaching research papers, I let the students choose their own topics. Ha ha ha! Sure, I got some great research papers on skateboarding and Minecraft, but I also got some real duds.

One kid even did a so-called research paper on cow manure, just so he had an excuse to use the “sh” word in class when quoting local dairymen he had interviewed!

Kids can be soooo creative that way.

To help anyone who’s struggling with research papers, I’m going to post lists of possible research topics over the next few months. Today I’m starting with artists. Next I’ll post a list of inventors. And at the end of this series of blog posts, I’ll make a list of medieval research topics available to you.

I should also point out that English Emporium already has a ton of stuff on research papers available for you to download and print, including:

Hopefully there’s something useful in that stack of stuff I’ve used over the 23 years that I worked as an English teacher. If you like my free, printable worksheets, lesson plans, and activities, please show your appreciation by pinning these on Pinterest, tweeting about them, and/or sharing them through other social media. Just be sure to mention where you found them!

How to #Teach the Basics of the #5ParagraphEssay With a #Thesis Graphic Organizer

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Handout for Teaching Introduction to Thesis Statements and the Five Paragraph Essay FormatIn our school district, students are first introduced to the fundamentals of a five paragraph essay in the sixth grade. It’s a brand new concept to them, so I teach them the most basic thesis, which uses three main points, before we embark on the writing of our first five-paragraph essay.

If you’re unfamiliar with this method of organizing an essay, it’s pretty simplistic. The writer chooses a topic like, say, pets for example. Then he/she writes a thesis that is designed to prove which of the three kinds of pets is the best. So I might have  a thesis that looks something like this:

If I had my choice between horses, cats, and dogs, I’d choose dogs as the ideal family pet.

Now the writer embarks on the creation of an essay that proves this thesis. He/she must include an introduction (which typically precedes the thesis), a paragraph about the first main point (horses), a follow-up paragraph on the second main point (cats), and a paragraph in which they praise the third main point (dogs). Finally, they re-state the thesis with a summary at the start of the final paragraph and wrap the whole thing up with a couple of sentences of conclusion.

This is, at its foundation, a persuasive essay. It’s a tough thing for concrete-operational learners to grasp–the fact that an essay, with a person’s opinion embedded in its body, can follow a specific structure. Yet this format is used for public speaking quite universally. So it’s an important skill to teach and to have students learn.

For today’s post, I’m sharing the Thesis Statement Graphic Organizer that I use whenever I’m starting my unit on persuasive five-paragraph essays. I hope you’ll find it as helpful as I have, for simplifying the essay for those concrete-operational learners.

Once they’ve finished filling out the organizer, you can even have them cut this graphic organizer into strips, lining up their pieces in this order:

  • on top: the thesis
  • next: topic one’s list of facts
  • next: topic two’s list of facts
  • next: topic three’s list of facts

Now have them write a re-stated thesis with a summary, cut it out, and stick it at the bottom. Each of these pieces will represent a single paragraph in their essay. This is a particularly helpful exercise for tactile learners.

 

(This is a re-post of an older post on thesis statements.) If you like my free printable worksheets, game ideas, and educational videos, please show your appreciation by liking, tweeting, and pinning! Thanks!

How to Help Students Set #Goals for #CreativeWriting Projects in the #English Classroom

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It’s tricky to judge creative projects. After more than 20 years in the English classroom, I’ve found it’s best to let students set their own goals sometimes. The template below is the second half of a Writing Log that I often use with the six traits of writing. Take a look at last week’s post for the first half of this template and a few more detailed guidelines about how you can use it in your English class.

Printable writing log with boxes for setting goals and reflecting on the six traits of writing.

For more free printable templates, classroom activities, and teacher tools, visit English Emporium.

 

If you like my free printable worksheets, game ideas, and educational videos, please show your appreciation by liking, tweeting, and pinning! Thanks!

#SixTraits Score Sheet for #LanguageArts / English #Teachers

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Printable score sheet which uses the six traits of good writing to score students and help them set goals for future writing projects.

For more free printable templates, classroom activities, and teacher tools, visit English Emporium.

This is the six traits scoring sheet I’ve used for many years. I’ve sort of perfected it over the years, including areas where the teacher writes a positive statement about what the student already does well and a constructive criticism area where the teacher writes a goal for the student to work on.

If you like my free printable worksheets, game ideas, and educational videos, please show your appreciation by liking, tweeting, and pinning! Thanks!

Advanced Outline Template for #Students and #Teachers of #English FREE @ EnglishEmporium.WordPress.com

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Template showing how to do an outline for a five paragraph essay, using six quotations within the body paragraphs.

Visit EnglishEmporium.WordPress.com for more free printable worksheets and activity guides.

My sophomores have been working on a fairly complex research paper lately, and I wanted them to incorporate at least six different quotes from three different sources in their final drafts. However one of the big problems students have, is avoiding the quote-on-top-of-quote-on-top-of-quote pileup. So I’ve implemented this outline template, to help my students “sandwich” their quotes between comments of their own.

I hope other English teachers and students will find it helpful.