There will be at least two opportunities for students to practice the writing process resulting in a five-paragraph essay. I almost always incorporate the five-paragraph essay writing process into the units I design. This gives students a framework to use whenever they are faced with writing an essay. These writing activities also will allow students opportunities to practice CAPT-like language arts activities. Both essay assignments will guide students in: crafting a clear thesis, fleshing out this thesis with observations, gathering evidence to support these observations, and then using their evidence in their support paragraphs in the five-paragraph essays.
One of the CAPT questions asks students to assess whether a story is "effective." Students in past classes have brainstormed what elements make up an "effective" story. Usually they agree that for a story to be "effective," it must contain a conflict, a character that grows in understanding or changes in some significant way, and there must be some kind of theme or lesson for the reader. Children's stories readily lend themselves to this CAPT assessment activity and present a natural opportunity for students to engage in the writing process culminating in a five-paragraph essay. The teacher could make students aware of this assessment early in the unit and ask students to keep some kind of log as to which stories seem to meet the criteria of an "effective story" and which do not. Actually, students could enter this data on their annotated bibliography that I will discuss in the field trip to the public library section.
I plan to model this assessment early in the unit either with the poem Deaf Donald or with
The Story of Frederick
. In each story there is conflict, one or more characters grows in understanding or changes, and there are universal themes. This would be an effective time to use an overhead projector, first to model how one creates a thesis from an essay assignment, second, how one makes an observation about the conflict in the story and gathers evidence from the story to support it, third, how one makes an observation about a character who grows or changes and gathers evidence from the story to support it, and finally, how one makes an observation about the universal theme or lesson in the story and gathers evidence to support it. It has become one of my passions to dispel the mystery around the process of writing a five-paragraph essay with solid content.
The other five-paragraph essay, and actually the first of the two, will be based on: the information students gather in researching the importance of reading to children, their posters, presentations, and note-taking activity. With the notes students take from the group presentations, and with the posters available in the room for reference, students will be ready to make observations themselves about the importance of reading to children. They will craft a thesis on this topic, and make three observations that support their thesis, observations that they can support with the notes they have taken from the group presentations. They will use three graphic organizers, stating an observation on the left side of the page and listing the evidence to support the observation on the right side. Once they have completed their three graphic organizers, they will be ready to begin crafting their five-paragraph essay. There is a lesson plan that explains this activity in more detail.