Lesson plan

Paragraphs That POP!

If young writers can learn how to write a solid paragraph, then they have the building blocks of an essay. In this lesson, students will study paragraph structure and practice organizing ideas into paragraphs.
Grade Subject View aligned standards

Students will be able to identify the structure of a paragraph and assemble sentences into a paragraph structure that makes sense.

(10 minutes)
  • Select an excerpt from a class read aloud or another favorite book.
  • Read a sample from the text while projecting it for the class to read along.
  • Ask students to pay attention to paragraph breaks.
  • Discuss: How do authors decide when to start and stop paragraphs?
  • This exercise will help students think about the function of paragraphs: what this formatting structure does to organize information, and how it’s done.
(15 minutes)
  • Distribute the worksheet Studying Paragraphs.
  • Review the structure of a paragraph as described and illustrated on the sheet.
  • Explain that in stories, paragraph breaks are usually created when there is dialogue, a shift or lapse in the action, or a change in the setting.
  • Ask students to turn to a neighbor to discuss how this is different in nonfiction.
  • Share thoughts about nonfiction paragraph breaks. Students will likely suggest ideas that are related to a change in the content or topic.
  • Explain that the structure on the sheet is a guide, and that skilled authors will often modify it to fit their needs. Paragraphs don’t always fit this structure, but it’s a good way to think about them as a beginning writer.
(15 minutes)
  • Distribute the worksheet Paragraph Puzzle 2. Have students cut up the sentence strips.
  • Instruct students to work with a partner or table group to put the sentences in a paragraph order that makes sense.
  • Review group work as a class. Discuss the orders they decided on and have them share their thinking.
  • Share the original order as published by the author.
(15 minutes)
  • Distribute the worksheet Paragraph Puzzle 1. These sentences will create two paragraphs.
  • Instruct students to complete the activity.
  • Review group work as a class. Discuss the orders they decided on and have them share their thinking.
  • Share the original order as published by the author.
  • Support: Provide the topic sentence for each paragraph in the exercises.

  • Enrichment: Instruct students to find a paragraph in a nonfiction text in your classroom and see if it fits the structure.
(10 minutes)
  • Have students divide a paper into three segments. In each segment, answer a question: What is the job of a topic sentence? What is the job of the sentences in the body of the paragraph? How about the final sentence?
(5 minutes)
  • Discuss: Why are paragraphs in fiction and nonfiction structured differently?

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