Grade: Middle
Subject: Language

#1427. Paragraph Writing- A Simple Lesson for Success

Language, level: Middle
Posted Thu Dec 2 19:34:21 PST 1999 by Karen Kay (
Materials Required: class novel
Activity Time: extended
Concepts Taught: Developing a paragraph

Read a short, high interest novel with the students.
Review the components of a typical plot line,Create a visual picture on the board of a mountain - at the bottom of the mountain, to the left, extend a line and write introduction, up the side of the mountain- draw a number of extended lines outward and identify as 1st point in rising action, 2nd etc., as you ascend up the mountain, the top is the climax, then descend and write 1st point falling action, 2nd etc., until you get to the bottom, which is called the denoument.
Together as a group, invite students to describe the intro., this will form the first paragraph, then ask for 4 points of rising action, each shall form a new paragraph, then ask for the climax, and 3 points falling action and the denoument.
In their first attempt students are encouraged to write with the following lead ins: The intro to the story begins..., the first point in rising action is, the second is.... etc., to the denoument. Review how each of the points was turned into a basic paragraph.
Students are then required to read a novel and follow the pattern given.
The pattern is discussed as is the concept of seguays. On the board write 2 of the paragraphs- remove the intro phrase the 1st point in rising action is.. and demonstrate to the students how the intro can be connected to the 1st point--- as simple as writing the next day, or a few days later, etc., have the students do this for the other points in rising action.
Students will then select a story of their own. They will use the typical plot line to identify: intro, points of rising action, climax, falling action and the denoument. Now the students must take their writing one step further- they are directed to develop each point and create an intro line which leads into the next point.

It is amazing how quickly the students begin to understand the concept of a paragraph. This can also be used for creative writing - After the concept has been introduced in a novel study format students may be encouraged to write a rough draft of a story. From their rough draft they follow the instructions for the typical plot line and begin to develop their points more fully.
Not only will the students'writing improve dramatically, they will also have been introduced to the elements of a story.