Lesson plan

Indentation Intentions

What is the intention of an indentation within a paragraph? Within this lesson, students will explore the reasons why we indent. They’ll categorize and classify content to construct paragraphs that include indentations.
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  • Students will be able to recognize the rationale and purpose of basic paragraph structure, which includes the use of indentation.
  • Students will be able to separate paragraph content and identify the location of indentation.
(5 minutes)
  • Using the assorted list of objects, distribute one object per student.
  • Invite students to mix and mingle and find students who have similar objects that could form a group.
  • After giving the students a minute to create their groups, lead the students in a brief discussion about what they observed.
  • Tell the students that just as certain objects fit into certain groups, the content of a paragraph must fit together. A change in a topic usually means a change in the paragraph — specifically, creating a new paragraph.
  • Explain that students will be learning how to create cohesive paragraphs that are indented correctly.
(15 minutes)
  • Model the process of generating ideas for several different informational paragraphs. For example, you could use a how-to informational essay to show how each different step is contained in a different paragraph. If desired, use two sheets of chart paper: one piece for the brainstorming and the other piece for modeling the paragraph structuring.
  • Think aloud, showing students how certain ideas fit together and demonstrating the process of indenting text, which signals a new topic or part of the essay.
  • Repeat with the example of narrative text, this time showing the students how different paragraphs could show a change in time, place, or character.
  • Note: By the end of this part of the lesson, you will have two samples of writing for students to reference.
(20 minutes)
  • Divide students into pairs or small groups.
  • Give each group a selection of books, sticky notes, and a roll of highlighter tape.
  • Invite the students to go on a search through their books and to identify the beginning of new paragraphs with a small piece of highlighter tape on the first line of a new paragraph.
  • Ask the students to use their sticky notes to annotate and make notes that include observations about changes in topics between paragraphs.
  • After all students have finished, invite groups to share their findings.
  • In the second part of the lesson, challenge the same groups of students to collaboratively write a group of informational paragraphs and a group of narrative paragraphs. (A suggested topic for an informational paragraph is an informational essay about pets. A suggested topic for a narrative paragraph is a story about a person’s challenge and the way that challenge was overcome.)
(20 minutes)
  • Ask the students to complete the worksheets Informational Indentations and A New Paragraph Narrative.
  • Circulate around the room and ask additional probing questions as needed.


  • For students who need additional practice in paragraph organization, ask the students to complete the Sentence Grouping worksheet.


  • Lengthen the single paragraph on the Informational Indentions worksheet to multiple paragraphs.
  • Assign students the task of using a compare-and-contrast approach to write a multiple paragraph essay.
  • Invite students to conduct a paragraph search using apps on a tablet or other device.
  • Ask students to type their essays and share these with a classmate to get feedback.
(15 minutes)
  • Ask the students to complete the Getting Ready for the Day: Paragraph Writing worksheet.
  • Check to ensure that students have indented correctly and grouped similar ideas together.
(5 minutes)
  • Give students an opportunity to share their writing with the rest of the class in a brief discussion. How did they group the topics in their paragraphs?

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