She hits me with her paw. When we leave the house, we leave Gracie inside. My black Labrador, Gracie, is getting old now, but she’s still a troublemaker. She refuses to go out and just wags her tail at him. Gracie is a lot of company, but she’s basically an imp. She noses the door as it closes and pretends to bite my hand. Gracie barks at 9:00 a.m. on weekends to wake up my son. I never let her have people food, but she still begs for it.
That’s quite a mess, isn’t it? You can probably tell it’s a paragraph about my dog, but it is not very well ORGANIZED. Sometimes when students write essays, their work suffers from the same malady of unorganizedness. It doesn’t matter if you are writing for a teacher’s grade, or for a district or state test, the paper must be organized. Usually, an organized essay will pass even if everyone disagrees about how good it is. If it is not organized, it won’t pass. So let’s redo Gracie’s paragraph. Here it is, more organized.
My black Labrador, Gracie, is getting old now, but she’s still a troublemaker. Gracie barks at 9:00 a.m. on weekends to wake up my son. She refuses to go out and just wags her tail at him. When we leave the house, we leave Gracie inside. She noses the door as it closes and pretends to bite my hand. I never let her have people food, but she still begs for it. She hits me with her paw. Gracie is a lot of company, but she’s basically an imp.
Now that’s better! The TOPIC SENTENCE starts it off and tells you what the paragraph will be about–Gracie being a troublemaker. Everything that follows explains how Gracie causes trouble. There is nothing in this paragraph about what she eats, or going for walks, or where she sleeps. None of that fits in a paragraph about Gracie causing trouble. After the topic sentence, there are three MAIN IDEAS: She barks to wake up my son, she doesn’t let us close her in when we are leaving, and she begs for scraps. For each main idea, there is a DETAIL that explains the idea. She barks, but she doesn’t have to go outside. She doesn’t let us close the door, and she nips at our hand. She begs for scraps by hitting us with her paw. Tie the paragraph up by writing a CONCLUDING SENTENCE that restates your topic sentence. Restating is an important skill here. If you use the same words, the reader will be bored (and a bored teacher may give you an F). If you don’t wrap up the paragraph nicely, the reader might forget what you are trying to say. So write the topic again, in different words. Gracie’s an imp.
The more time you invest in planning an essay, the easier it will be to actually write it. If you don’t plan it, it won’t be organized and it won’t be your best work. So get used to the idea–plan everything you write. One easy way to write up an essay plan is to outline it. Don’t put too many words into your outline. Use phrases that will remind you what you want to put into sentences. Here is my outline for Gracie’s paragraph:
Topic: Gracie is a troublemaker
1. barks, wakes up son
2. wags tail, doesn’t go out
1. leave her in house
2. noses door, play bites
1. begs for food
2. hits leg with paw
Conclusion: Gracie is an imp.
Compare that outline to the final paragraph. Each line of the outline becomes a sentence. Some detail is added to make the sentences fuller, but all the basic information is in the outline.
YOU TRY IT Here’s an outline for a paragraph about school. You should have enough information to write an awesome paragraph. Try to put your own opinion (your VOICE) into it when you are composing your sentences. Remember to make one sentence for each line of the outline.
TOPIC: school is challenging
1. Math is logical
2. geometry and algebra
1. Social Studies is hard
2. lots of dates and place names
1. Writing is fun
2. create with words
CONCLUSION: classes are hard, but I learn a lot
NOTE: Whatever you do, DON’T PUT ‘WRITING IS FUN’ AS A SENTENCE IN YOUR ESSAY!!!! It should be a sentence that shows writing is fun but uses more words. 🙂
On my Kindle: Th1rteen R3asons Why by Jay Asher