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The Five-Paragraph Essay


Today's Snack: Can you get your mouth around a stack of five saltine crackers, spread with peanut butter or soft cheese spread? Can you drink a glass of chocolate milk in five gulps?




Cut construction paper in thirds.

For each student, give one strip of one color of construction paper,

three strips of a second color,

and one strip of a third color

Pencil or pen


The classic school assignment is to write a five-paragraph essay that presents information, lets you share an opinion, or is designed to make the reader stop and think about a subject as never before.


The most common format is to have your introduction and set out your main point or question in the first paragraph, use the next three paragraphs to make three key points full of details and information, and then write the fifth and final paragraph as a summary and conclusion.


Your first paragraph should get your readers' attention by surprising them, captivating their interest, or challenging their set ideas.


Your middle three paragraphs prove your point.


And the fifth and final paragraph makes sure your readers remember what you had to say, and agree with you that the topic is important. Why? Because you did such a good job in Paragraphs One through Four!


Some five-paragraph essays are personal. The writer is expected to share a lot of feelings and personal information.


Others are straightforward reports, no-nonsense and informative in nature.


A five-paragraph essay should fill one page of lined notebook paper. It's a good idea to skip one line between paragraphs to make your paper look neater.


You either respond to a prompt, or choose a topic, and research it or make notes of all the things you want to include. Then pick the three very best, and use them for your middle three paragraphs. Each of those paragraphs should start with a word or two of transition (Also, Then, In addition, Besides, etc.) to tie them to the introduction, the conclusion, and each other. Each of the three middle paragraphs should have a topic sentence that spells out your idea, and then supporting sentences that expand on the idea and show how it relates to your main point.


Now take the construction paper strips - one in one color, three in another color, and one more in a third color.


Let's write a five-paragraph essay on someone special - someone you know well, or would like to know well.


Follow the five-paragraph format and write your introduction on one colored strip, make your three key points on the three other colored strips, and wrap it up with a conclusion for the fifth and final paragraph.


Lay them on the desk in front of you. Mix up the order so that the conclusion is in the middle, the beginning is at the end, and so forth. See how the five-paragraph format is the best and clearest way to communicate?


By Susan Darst Williams Writing 2010


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