Thursday, April 29, 2010

Topic: The Five-Paragraph Essay--Model vs. Process

10-second review: Interviews college teachers about the quality of instruction their high school graduates have received. The problem these college teachers perceive with their students’ writing is the model drilled into them of the five-paragraph essay with a thesis at the end of the first paragraph. Too rigid. Too limited.

Title: “Closing the Gap Between High School Writing Instruction and College Writing Expectations.” S Fanetti, et al. English Journal (March 2010), pp. 77-83.

Comment: It may be that students are being drilled in the five-paragraph essay, a model of the “Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and tell them what you told them” pattern of organization for expository writing. Expository writing, whether it is fifty pages long or one hundred pages long, consists of a beginning, middle and end and skilled writers know that stating in the beginning what they are going to say, using mainly topic sentences to provide the details and summing it all up in the conclusion is a pattern of organization that works. Teachers who drill on the five-paragraph essay are confusing the model with the process. RayS.

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