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The first level is usually the easier of the two. It involves taking what the writer is saying at face value and checking whether it is correct and makes sense. The second level is where you analyse the hidden meaning in the essay. To do this, you need to be able to see through the surface-level stuff to see what the writer is really saying in their essay. This takes some practice and experience. Click here to move on to the next topic: The structure of an analytical essay. Click here to find out more. Click for Main Topic List. Depth of an analytical essay. The structure of an analytical essay. Hidden assumptions and arguments. Your analytical essay can analyse at two different levels:. Analysis of the evidence and discussion the writer presents to support their argument or claim. Design by On Dieting.
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You know it: It's bad writing. It's always been bad writing. With the Common Core Standards designed to shift the way we teach students to think, read, and write, this outdated writing tradition must end. If you're teaching it--stop it. If I were using five paragraphs to convince you, based on the argument above, you wouldn't need to read any farther. Each state, though, had its own. A few years ago, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers began work on national standards to increase consistency. These new national standards are challenging--and necessary. According to the Common Core Web site, the "standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. The standards: If high-school students and teachers are to succeed with Common Core Standards, the five-paragraph essay cannot be part of instruction. Too many times, this ordinary format is the default mode for expressing thinking in English, in history, in science, in P. The problem is this format doesn't encourage thoughtful persuasion. It promotes low-level summary that nobody really cares about. Aristotle rightfully promoted five parts to effective writing and speaking. Eventually, because of low expectations, because of poor literacy training, because of convenience or some combination, these five parts became five paragraphs. And writing became boring and predictable. The thesis or argument in the traditional five-paragraph essay doesn't lend itself to debatability or originality. It's a trap that students can never escape. A few years ago, I got the chance to be an AP English reader for the College Board. Over and over, if a student used the rudimentary three-part "argument," there was no way he or she could demonstrate success in the analysis essay--even though we were all supportive readers. Students were trapped into only writing about three aspects of the text instead of starting at the top, ending at the bottom, and going through the text with a critical eye that revealed an insight to the reader. In competitions such as history fairs, students cannot compete with the rudimentary three-part argument. When I started a Writing Center at a selective-enrollment high school a couple of jobs ago, the history teacher came to me and said she needed something to help students succeed. Over and over, she was getting arguments with blank, blank, and blank. If students want to get really fancy, they can use a subordinate phrase at the beginning to de-emphasize common beliefs: The image above is the handout I use with students thanks to the conversations with my mentor Robin Bennett, a fondly remembered theater and history teacher. Another damaging aspect of using five paragraphs is that students find it almost impossible to do anything but write in expository paragraphs. Aristotle's form, however, is not a one-size-fits-all approach. This form doesn't work for science lab reports. For that, we should follow the example of the science tradition. Lab reports are not argumentative. This form should also not be the form for a narrative essay. For that, we should follow the example of NPR This I Believe essays. While personal essays do carry a subtextual argument, they are not intended to persuade. They are written so we can experience what we have not or find solidarity through what we have. Aristotle's form works only for persuasive essays--which need to be part of our educational system more often. We just need to make sure that we are presenting students with persuasive prompts that have more than one reasonable response. I'm hearing, "But how are students going to learn organization without learning the five-paragraph essay? Effective cover letters aren't written in five-paragraph essays. We don't expect a news article to follow a five-paragraph format. Quite simply, there aren't always three reasons to prove our point. Students need to write for a specific rhetorical context. How much time to you have to write this? A udience: Who will read this? What do they believe about the subject? Are they a supportive or skeptical audience? P urpose: What is the job of this essay? What specifically do you want the audience to realize? Students and teachers can use this to deconstruct prompts. Finally, the SOAP format, when combined with Aristotle's form, can help students write one or ten page essays effectively. Aristotle called the last part of the persuasive event the epilogue. Unlike the five-paragraph essay that begins with "As you can see. It's a good opportunity for students to make inferences or predictions. If teachers and students move away from the rudimentary, unengaging, and useless five-paragraph format, students will be able to think for themselves and understand that writing can really challenge people's views. Students will create persuasive essays that incorporate information in un-identical ways to everyone else. These were essays written by two of my students. Due to the popularity of this post since May, in October I wrote about strategies for effective narrative writing --especially for personal statements--that avoid the traditional five-paragraph form. Get one update the next time I post on The White Rhino. Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time. Uncategorized I couldn't agree more—we need to actively teach students out of using the five-paragraph essay, which is little more than an organizational framework. To that end, I have created a framework that encourages original thinking, close reading, and connecting core texts to the contemporary world. It's called the CON-Text Multimodal essay approach CONsider, CONnect, CONtrast, CONclude and you can see many examples of it on our platform devoted to empowering teachers to share Core-aligned best practice materials, The CON-Text Approach is covered in our free downloadable e-book on our home page entitled Becoming a Core Ninja: Mastering the Common Core Standards. Becoming a Core Ninja is AWESOME! I am former classroom teacher and now a curriculum developer for a large education company and I want to thank you for sharing this great resource! My first observation was "Well. We have a huge amount of students who can barely write a coherent paragraph, let alone a complete essay. These students need to start with the easiest essay format to understand, remember and use. Liberace was once asked how he had become such an outstanding pianist. His reply was that he learned to play "by the rules" and once he had mastered the basics, added embellishments that represented him and his personality. From my perspective, a student can start from any format with which he feels comfortable. Also, when appropriate, one should give opposing viewpoints and explain why they are incorrect. Any format can create uninteresting and ineffective essays. At each step of the writing process we have to ask our students if we're involving the reader in some way. Why begin an expository essay with a boring "My parents brought me to this country when I was five years old" when one could engage the reader's interest with a tantalizing "I was too young to understand what was hapenning, but my grandmother's tears told me that my life was about to change forever. There are many ways to skin a to write an interesting and effective essay, for that matter. Yes, we have students who struggle to write. But we have lots of students who don't. While agree that any format can be engaging or unengaging, I know that students will succeed if they are taught the importance of audience. They need "hooks" that fuction in the professional world outside of the classroom. Too often, students are told, "Begin with a question. If students learn to keep real people in mind besides the teacher as audience , they will develop into engaging writers capable of making effective rhetorical decisions. Finally, I cannot agree that we should focus less on format. I see too many times how students are given a good prompt but no guidelines. This leaves them wasting lots of time fishing for the "right answer. I'm interested in how you help students make effective, independent decisions as they write their college essays? Are there strategies you can suggest to readers here? I meant to say that we should worry less about the type of format used and more on the end product achieving its goal. However, I can see where teachers who only have one or two decades of experience may not have developed the skill set necessary to see the value in or to deal effectively with a variety of formats. As a starting point, the F-PF works as well for my students as any other format. It's what they do later that makes the difference. What strategies do I use? They vary according to the type of essay, etc. Here are a few. And I need to stress this point: these are strategies that work for me - others' mileage may vary. After dealing with each part of the prompt, they can join the various sections. This way they are assured they addressed the entire prompt. I teach them to overwrite, expecially in the beginning. They ask me how much more. My response is always the same: "Until my eyes bleed and I beg God to make you stop. Because my students tend to hide what I call their "gems" well into their writing. When I find the "gem" I show them how this small piece of what they've written is what's going to turn a hum-drum essay into something that stands above the crowd. If they can't defend it, kill it. At later stages we look at flow and some obvious items that shouldn't exist in formal writing, e. And of course we look at just about every word to see if it adds value to the writing or simply occupies space. All the writing done in my classes is done with a specific purpose, so writing to that audience is a given. I show them every step of the way exactly how the reader will react to what they've done. They should never assume that the reader will assume they have those skills. Believe me, they're writing with a purpose! In elementary school they have graphic organizers that look like hamburgers glued together to represent paragraphs. I have used Oreo cookies and other foods to help drive the point that paragraphs are fully of meaty information. This year I incorporated materials produced at Mississippi State to help my seventh graders with a catch phrase "Bing, Bang, Bongo. This simplification of Aristotle's rhetorical device for thesis statements can become another tool for developing young writers. I didn't think it was particularly useful and had some other ideas, but I was smart enough to see that this format was really being pushed at my school and that it would be politically unwise for me to speak out against it. Instead of pointing out its flaws, I marveled at its sparkling as my superiors held it up to the light as a key tool in a successful teacher's repertoire. Now, the buzz is that the five paragraph essay is "out", and my superiors at school none of whom were around in the old days have begun to repeat the buzz they, too, have been hearing about how awful the five paragraph essay is. I can see that it is most advantageous for me politically to join in their chorus, and so I have. Down with the five paragraph essay! Until the flow shifts again, anyway. The advantage that we now have as experienced, tenured teachers is that we can and should speak up when our school leaders make unwise decisions. We can do this without ruining our relationship with our bosses as long as we ground our feedback and resistance in professional judgement that benefits students, not in petty temper tantrums or personal attacks. As experienced, tenured educators we must fulfull our responsibility to our students and our profession. That's why tenure was established--to allow teachers to speak as professionals, not to sit back and wait for things to come and go. We need to rememeber that, as teachers, we have more control over instruction than we think we do. Things are going to change. I wouldn't fill out my taxes with someone who kept complaining about how much things change. It's his job to keep up with new tax laws. It's our job to keep up with new instructional strategies and to push for those that are best for students. Which colleagues or leaders are you following? If not, how can you lead this change in perspective? Nevertheless, it is difficult to speak out when you know they are looking for younger teachers to take your place each day. Ok I agree that this old format is now what is best for students, however, no one has spoken of the process for another. Is there a website or book I can read? Without serious training in the art of writing, students' growth as writers is not likely. Writing is thinking and even the most innovative approaches to writing will fail if our teaching of writing is built on anything other than the belief that writing begins with a thought -- a deep thought that has pluses, minuses, and interesting implications. Also, the true craft of writing reflects what readers know -- how to use words and conjure images to make one's writing readable. Again, if the teacher cannot make this thinking visible, we will make no progress in an area where improvement is sorely needed. This is perfectly stated. Thank you for commenting. It sounds like you have a strong writing background. How did you develop this and what suggestions do you have for others to do the same? I would like to see a writing endorsement available. We have all kinds of other endorsements, but we need one in writing. A question that has come up a lot is how to use this with English-Language Learners. We must remember that they can and should be given opportunities to think critically even though they don't speak English fluently. One option is to have students use key terms or vocabulary in English e. This, of course, only works if it's a bilingual classroom. Another option, especially for ESL students, is to use sentence stems to get their ideas going after an appropriate brainstorming exercise. I've used stems with even my AP students when we take on a new type of writing. The vision is to then take away the stems. Most of the time we can. Thanks to Response to Intervention, though, we don't have to for the really struggling students. The significance to the audience can be put on hold. That's OK because it's getting students to think of opposing views and logic. The five-paragraph essay does not develop logic or the understanding that writing is about entering a larger conversation. It promotes an isolated, one-sided view. Law school turned my writing upside down. I could no longer write simple, five paragraph persuasive essays. Not all legal writing is designed to be persuasive. However, every single brief, motion and petition needs to be beyond persuasive. In fact, it needs to be utterly free of a reasonable counter-argument. In law school, I learned the infamous IRAC format issue, rule, application of the rule, and conclusion. I personally prefer the variation of IRAC known as CREAC conclusion, rule, explanation of the rule application of the rule, and conclusion again. I love this idea of leaving the five paragraph essay behind us! I would really like to read a sample of one of your student's essays, so I could share it with my colleagues who are stuck in the five paragraph essay mode. Hi Jeannie, thanks for posting. An easy way to get some samples is to check out my journalism students' blog on Chicago Now: "Whatchoo Got to Say? However, some good examples of argumentative essays are on Affirmative Action and homeless hotspots. I hope this helps. I agree -- the most valuable writing I learned in college was the conciliatory essay. I think in our diverse, fragmented world, it's important for people to be able to show they understand opposing viewpoints, and then be able to persuade others to see their own. It's a valuable skill in any format from a brief conversation to comprehensive business proposals. There seems to be a fundamental flaw to the argument. The blogger writes, "The problem is this format doesn't encourage thoughtful persuasion. It's WHO encourages thoughtful WHAT... I wrote it that way because there are times when we evaluate the text's impact. We'll say, "The speech was not convincing. As we teach our students to read, write, and think, we need to also teach them and remind ourselves how to listen. We've been saying this same thing at National Writing Project as well as the multiple local writing project sites, but it's still a wonderful message to continue to convey. I've observed English teachers in my area who just give up and don't ask the kids to write anything but short answers and journals. If there is a writing project site at a university near by, it's a worthy way to spend the summer in professional development. It transformed my teaching and opened up leadership opportunities for me. Thanks Ray from another endangered species - a native Hawaiian English teacher Thanks for commenting, Mrs. Aloha and fellow white rhino. It's an easy trap for teachers. It's tough keeping up with longer essays. If you have upcoming info about PD through the National Writing Project, please share. Most NWP-affliated satellite projects usually tethered to a university will run multiple week-long Summer Institutes, where teachers write, research and teach as part of teacher-led PD. The NWP website can be easily navigated to find those local projects. However, you did not provide much information on what is expected to go in between your introduction and conclusion? Any piece of writing needs some structure and main ideas that are then supported with various pieces of evidence whether you are writing a historical thesis or a persuasive essay... If you are abandoning a "main idea followed by supporting evidence" format, what do you propose should take its place? Thanks for commenting, Nicole. What does the audience need to be reminded of? This is the evidence that supports the argument. It's the stuff that supports the writer's view. I think you have answered your own question by example: a well-written, persuasive comment. I'd say that about the rest of the comments as well--thanks people! Preaching to the choir! You asked in the comments how to teach this to ESL students. Well, that's my job, and the answer for me is to teach genres not modes, which is essentially what you did with the history professor you mentioned. Find good models, deconstruct them to find the stages of meaning, and then scaffold the writing, leading to independent mastery. This answers the question posted above about what goes "in the middle. It's good when a choir soloist finds a chorus to join. I'm motivated by all of the comments. It's interesting that this post is getting more comments in favor than against. We throw around the word "essay" too much. Thanks for your insightful explanation of genre not mode. I'll check out your blog. All the essays sound alike, as if the teacher could shuffle them and assign them to random students. We must approach writing as a generative process. The first sentence generates the second, which generates the third, in a logical chain. Teaching paragraphing should be delayed. It is easy to teach students to recognize paragraph breaks later on. Any classroom teacher who has experimented with quick-writes will recognize the benefit of this approach and the authenticity of the voices heard in each text. Check out my blog: Very true, Jack--"writing as a generative process. Students need to learn that writing can change directions appropriately to engage the audience and themselves in deeper thinking. I enjoy learning and have been researching the modern writing style. I wish I could be taught how to persuade people in writing in the same way that I persuade people with words. In reference to your example of Liberace, I also agree that rules should be learned and then broken. Hi Stephen, thanks for speaking up. I'm glad to have some student voice here. If you're good at speaking your ideas, record yourself with your phone. Many of the persuasive ideas will be there. We like to have real conversations with students--especially about writing. Maybe ask, "How did you learn to convince people with your writing? Here's what I'm thinking. Then, try the variations on your own. Experiment with writing for you, not for the grade. Hey Ray, the five paragraph structure teaches you to use evidence to back up your arguments. Something you fail to do in your essay. You make a bunch of specious claims and then never support them. Instead we get a rambly mess of an argument that doesn't really go anywhere. The biggest bone I have to pick with you is the old saw you repeat that I keep hearing from curriculum faddists- that this structure is never used in "real life. This is a bogus argument due to the fact that we do not teach all writing forms to be just used in the work place this is what you mean by real life- right? There is a value in learning a writing technique that is used to train good mental habits- such as supporting information with evidence. Mostly I hate this real life argument because we do use it out side of school. I used to write for newspapers and magazines and used it in a mutated form all of the time. This method is used in debates and in writing college acceptance essays to name a few formats. To put down the five paragraph work horse is a fad. Students need to know how to structure thoughts and this is one very useful method. One last point, not teaching this to students sets kids up for failure in college, where - like it or not- they are expected to know this formula. Ignatz, if we're not preparing student for real life, we should just turn off the lights, close the doors, and go home. The five-paragraph essay is useless outside of the classroom. There are so many other ways to teach persuasion--and to persuade. One is to read carefully for evidence, the others are outlined above. Think and read before you comment. No, they don't owe it all to me. I just make sure I fulfill my responsibility of being an good writing teacher. They work to ensure their own success. What you are describing is much like something that has been coined the "enthymeme" George Guthridge has done a lot of work developing this method for use with student writing - based on Aristotle ? There are two kinds of questions, What questions and Why questions. What questions always have objective answers, and can't be made into essays because they have essentially one sentence responses. Why questions are debatable by their nature, which gets to your excellent points about creating a thesis which requires explanation as well as proof in opposition to another position. They cannot be made in to "Why" essays, this is true. And "Why" essays teach a deeper kind of thinking, however it is a mistake to say that "What" essays are valueless and should be done away with. David, this makes sense. Five-paragraph essays usually end up answering "what" questions instead of "why" and people mistake exposition for persuasion. I like this approach. Thanks for the tip. Looks as if notice of the death of the five-paragraph essay has, at least for now, been somewhat exaggerated. Perhaps what is most needed at this point is an assessment tool that instructors can use to tell them, from day one, where student writing skills levels are, then structure writing assignments accordingly. Yes, it means more work, but then whoever said that teaching writing was easy? Moreover, with the increasing numbers of learning disabled students attending college, teaching writing is only going to get even more interesting! Deborah, if students need a format, they should learn Aristotle's. They don't need to include all of the sections at once. Useful formats can also be found by teaching genre as form. This way, students can mirror the format of successful pieces and come up with something interesting. I read through them quickly looking for patterns. That's I start off my writing instruction without making the assessment overwhelming to review. Perhaps it restricted my creativity somewhat, but I used it to my advantage: how can I prove my point and make my paper engaging by only using five paragraphs? However, with that basic knowledge and understanding, I was able to strengthen my writing skills and incorporate other styles and approaches, while maintaining a cohesive and organized paper. My appreciation for writing is why I am now a college English instructor. However, I still limit their writing to five paragraphs because the question I always get asked by students is: how many paragraphs or how long does this paper have to be? At the same time, I don't want them to ramble on and on and would prefer their papers to be succinct and to the point. A creative writer can always find ways to make his or her writing more appealing and can still apply all the qualities of a good argumentative paper with this restriction. They just gave away the ending. Please let me know how Aristotle's form goes. One part that has helped me help students with the background section is to tell them their audience is someone who is not in our class and has not read or viewed the texts we have. Ray do you ever respond to direct criticism? Or do you just blow off real arguments that contridict your world view? Ignatz, we obviously share the same criticisms regarding Ray's article. I always enjoy a good argument as long as the reasons are valid! To say that a teacher's approach--in this case, the five-paragraph essay--is rudimentary, unengaging and useless is blatantly ignorant without offering a fair, opposing view. However, I find this discussion rather enlightening and entertaining. Ray, my students are more advanced than just writing a blank, blank, and blank thesis. They are expected to write an arguable thesis that doesn't involve "listing" their main points. You're making a false assumption that this is how I teach my students. To say that "readers get bored with the five-paragraph essay" is another assumption on your part. Perhaps you should rephrase to say that you, as a reader, get bored with it. I actually asked the opinions of high school and college students, as well as English professors, regarding the five-paragraph rule and most prefer it. Both students and teachers agreed that this format provides structure, which is essential for writers who aren't accustomed to essay writing. As you can see, your approach doesn't work for everyone, which is fine because we're all entitled to our own opinions, but don't attack the five-paragraph essay. A sound argument, whether it be an essay, article, or blog, would offer both sides and allow the reader to determine an arguable judgment. However, your article is one-sided that is very opinionated and includes false assumptions. Please practice what you preach. By the way, Aristotle's approach wouldn't work effectively for an experience or cause-and-effect essay, where refutation isn't applicable. I did include both sides of the argument. Then, I refute them. It's OK for blog posts to be one-sided when they're intended to be argumentative, as this post is. Refutation can be used in a cause-and-effect essay. People have disagreements all the time about what does and does not cause something else. You're right: Aristotle's approach would not work for an experience essay. When students ask, "how long does this have to be? The default should not be "five paragraphs. Students should be encouraged to place their emphasis on content, purpose, and audience and to allow this to focus to guide the organization of their writing. It has to fit into three reasons. I think my post is really challenging some part of your instruction and that explains the tone in your response and in Ignatz's. Of course it's rudimentary. It's a starting point to help students organize their thoughts in a coherent fashion. Starting points by definition are rudimentary. It's what the student does next that makes the difference. No, I am not threatened, I am just disappointed that you cannot respond to my basic questions regarding your bloviating mess of an article. Here they are again, although you have blown them off several times now so I don't really know why I am bothering except maybe that your obvious uncomfortableness with being challenged is entertaining- I know a lot of teachers who have been in the saddle too long who have this disease of being defensive and dismissive of challenges that they are unprepared for. But these are great things to teach and learn. Not teaching it is a disservice, no matter how personally bored you are. It's not an argument if you don't make it an argument. It's an argument--a rudimentary one. There is really no point in anyone reading the rest of your essay because you just gave away the whole thing. Also, the logic here is off. It's quite easy to measure if someone is taller, and faster, and stronger. That becomes a statement of fact, not one that can be debated. My intention here is to get teachers and students to think of thesis statements in more sophisticated ways. Why such an emphasis on teaching students argumentative writing? So many students are already so good at arguing and manipulating. Most forms of expository writing require structure. I think what you're arguing is valid for Rogerian argumentative modes, but I would never advocate throwing away the five paragraph essay. Even the Toulmin model of argument benefits from the five paragraph structure. The idea may be edgy, but it's destructive to what I do on the college level. I am horrified when high school English teachers tell me they unteach five paragraph essays, which kids often learn in middle school. I am disturbed because the students arrive to my college English course with no sense of structure or organization and I have to reteach all of these basic skills. Maybe this philosophy is one of the reasons why so many students arrive to college with deficient writing skills. Five paragraph essays are the starting point for every college paper students will ever write. If they can't follow this simple recipe they're doomed. Many college papers are informational or analytical, but not necessarily argumentative. To analyze, organize points, integrate sources, and report objectively are the real challenges they need to learn for formal academic writing. But rhetorical mode is irrelevant to this necessary structural process of writing. If you're teaching creative writing, fiction or non-fiction, then that's another story. What your argument equates to is turning every writing assignment into free writes, journals, rants and blogs. These are appropriate exercises to build off of, but that's all they are. Your refutation also assumes the five paragraph essay stops at five paragraphs, when it is really just the starting point for everything else. All the emphasis on common core, Aristotle, and argument seem like red herrings in this argument about the five paragraph importance. If you are a high school teacher who wants to truly prepare your student for college or work, then you SHOULD be teaching students to use the five paragraph as a starting point of construction. You'll be doing them a big favor. You're completely misreading my post. This is not about freewrites, journals, rants, and blogs. It's about using those brainstorming techniques to produce viable, thoughtful argumentative writing in a classic form. In the fall, I'm teaching a first-year writing class at my high school for seniors through the City Colleges of Chicago. To earn college credit, students must take an exit exam and submit a portfolio of their writing. The guidelines explicitly say to NOT include five-paragraph essays in the portfolio. That will not earn them college credit. This goes against your theory. As we reflect on our teaching of writing it might be a good idea to review the main points from Aristotle's approach, which I believe everyone who has written on this blog seems to agree with: Introduction: The writer should present a direct statement of the case the proposition to be proved or defended--thesis , with an outline of how the writer will present the evidence. Body: Confirmation of case by presenting evidence in its favor includes one or more of the following :. The Body is also the place for acknowledging merit of and then refuting opposing views. Conclusion: Recapitulation and summary of argument: to repeat is to reinforce and make certain readers have not misunderstood. Peroration: A final, heightened appeal for support. Narrative writing of course requires an entirely different format, which I teach using Freytag's pyramid model. So maybe you need to take another look at the Aristotelian method, and realize that teachers have many ways to teach writing that can be successful. Although you are quoting them as the authority on the subject, it has actually been my experience that they do not reject well written entrance essays based on numbers of paragraphs. I'm glad that argumentative writing is at the forefront of the Common Core standards, and I am now seeing far more ELA teachers in general involved in the discussion about teaching kids to write. I hope that this new generation of students who seem to think that if it can't be texted it doesn't need to be written, will now be taught to write through a variety of methods. So I salute you for putting forward your blog and will continue to look in on it from time to time. The comments section on Chicago Now transitioned over to Facebook recently. This is why it says that "comments are closed. Like a few posters before me, I find that abstraction and what many would consider more "creative" writing structures leave these students frustrated and unwilling to participate. Understand that I am referring to High School Juniors who have difficulty writing in complete paragraphs. Thanks for continuing the conversation, Aaron. If you email me see contact Ray link above , I'll send you can example of how I support these struggling learners. Their literacy levels may be low but many, many times, their ability to think is high. Struggling students usually have some powerful life experiences and are forced to make difficult decisions every day. We can create structures to help them. I'll keep an eye out for the email and we can continue the conversation. As a student with dyslexia and an auditory processing disorder the five paragraph essay gave me access. I needed a way to hold my thinking and organize my thoughts and the five paragraph essay framework was perfect. Today I teach it to every one of my students and truly believe I am doing them a service. I would be glad to teach additional frameworks in addition to the paragraph essay but I am unwilling to sacrifice it. For me it is an equity issue and I hold to a belief that all students deserve a chance. Thanks for continuing the conversation. The traditional five-paragraph essay can be an entry point, a starting point. But, too often, it becomes the goal. As long as students are using this traditional form for expository writing, it'll be OK. This does not develop higher levels of argument. All students deserve a chance to think at higher levels. If you email me see contact Ray in header , I can share some of the ways I support special-needs students so they do move into deeper thinking. His writing aired on National Public Radio and Chicago Public Radio many times. His editorials appeared in the Chicago Tribune and on CNN's Schools of Thought blog, as well as on the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards' Web site. Ray also writes for San-Antonio-based News Taco, which provides news and insights from a Latino perspective.. Today, he lives a little more south and a little more west in the city with his wife, son, and daughter. This comes from a conversation with another Latino English teacher. When we met at an English teachers' meeting a few years ago, he said I was the only other Latino English teacher he knew: "We're white rhinos. Like the animal, Latino English teachers exist in low numbers. And we know the low number of Latinos with college degrees in our city.. Therefore, I have a perspective that, like the white rhino, must fight to exist. The writing here includes my responses, reflections, reactions to Latino- and education-related issues.. Headshot Photo Credit: Ronnie Wachter Most recent post: Paddy's on a mission from God somewhere in Chicago today Most recent post: A Video By My Favorite Flight Attendant Most recent post: Check out the list of Chicago's crazy St Patricks Day favorites. By Ray Salazar ,. Part I: Introduction--What inspired my argumentative response? Introduction with three reasons. A summary of all three reasons. The five-paragraph essay is rudimentary, unengaging, and useless. Besides allowing for instructional consistency among states, the states help align instruction vertically so one grade's instruction leads to the next. If high-school students and teachers are to succeed with Common Core Standards, the five-paragraph essay cannot be part of instruction. Together we came up with this structure for arguments, which has served me and students well:. Example A: The longer school day in Chicago next year does not guarantee that students will be productive in classes, reminding us that young people need to find learning meaningful. Example B: The longer school day in Chicago next year does guarantee more learning opportunities, resulting in increased student success. If students want to get really fancy, they can use a subordinate phrase at the beginning to de-emphasize common beliefs:. The image above is the handout I use with students thanks to the conversations with my mentor Robin Bennett, a fondly remembered theater and history teacher. S ubject: Who or what are you writing about? I couldn't agree more—we need to actively teach students out of using the five-paragraph essay, which is little more than an organizational framework. It's called the CON-Text Multimodal essay approach CONsider, CONnect, CONtrast, CONclude and you can see many examples of it on our platform devoted to empowering teachers to share Core-aligned best practice materials, . The CON-Text Approach is covered in our free downloadable e-book on our home page entitled Becoming a Core Ninja: Mastering the Common Core Standards. Feel free to reach out if you're interested in learning more. Thanks for sharing this, Rich. I will check it out. My personal opinion: worry less about the format and more about the finished product. The rules Liberace followed were guidelines that lead to success. If there is a prompt, I have the student break the prompt into its various parts and put each part at the top of a separate page. NBCT - WLOE Spanish. I agree that we need to be able to use a simple format to help students learn organization. Thanks for posting, Hugo, and for emphasizing the importance of form. I intended that to be a general comment, not a reply to the poster above... Thanks Ray from another endangered species - a native Hawaiian English teacher. Thanks for commenting, Mrs. This can be any mode that is appropriate. I hope this clears it up. If not, please let me know. Nigel, thanks for commenting. Check out my blog: . Very true, Jack--"writing as a generative process. What would be your suggestion in approaching my English teacher about this subject? Thanks for not reading what I wrote. Also if we only teach real life writing, I should ditch Haikus etc...? My students have actually gone on to be successful writers with my feedback. I am sure that they owe it all to you. Again, just answer what I wrote rather than being so defensive. What you are describing is much like something that has been coined the "enthymeme" . George Guthridge has done a lot of work developing this method for use with student writing - based on Aristotle ? Enthymemes are an essential part of rhetoric. Thanks for the links. I start even more simply. Teach them as well, as a scaffold to the "Why". Readers get bored with the five-paragraph essay because after the blank, blank, and blank "thesis" which is really a statement, not an argument , there's no point in reading. The above writer has presented real arguments, to which you airily dismiss and ignore. Why even have comments or respond to them if you are going to ignore the content? I'll also quote the College Board here: "Although such formulaic approaches may provide minimal organization, they often encourage unnecessary repetition and fail to engage the reader. The five-paragraph essay over-emphasizes the format. While I have no problem with the F-PF as a starting point as I've mentioned before , the above quote from the College Board sums up what I do with the students if they come to me empty handed. But should never be a be all, end all. I dare you to answer these questions, with evidence SVP! Students can argue but they need to persuade and present evidence, not manipulate. Students fail in college with five-paragraph essays. As we reflect on our teaching of writing it might be a good idea to review the main points from Aristotle's approach, which I believe everyone who has written on this blog seems to agree with:. Introduction: The writer should present a direct statement of the case the proposition to be proved or defended--thesis , with an outline of how the writer will present the evidence. However, if you would like to comment, hit "reply" and see if you can log in with your Facebook account to share your ideas. Comments are closed on this post. Ray Salazar on The White Rhino: A Chicago Latino English Teacher Ray Salazar on The White Rhino: A Chicago Latino English Teacher Ray Salazar on The White Rhino: A Chicago Latino English Teacher Ray Salazar on The White Rhino: A Chicago Latino English Teacher Ray Salazar on The White Rhino: A Chicago Latino English Teacher. Paddy's on a mission from God somewhere in Chicago today. Posts from related blogs. Read these ChicagoNow blogs. Marcus Cooper's signing represents hope for the Bears' secondary. The every day misadventures of someone me who has been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. Sometimes it's tough to be a nice guy. Read these ChicagoNow Bloggers. Should Bears Trade Matt Forte? The Truth About Gluten. Do I need to start wearing my reading glasses in the shower?
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