Once I talked on the Language Lady Facebook page about how many times I had said “A paragraph is a unit of thought” in three days of teaching. (Too many to count!) And promised a post about designing paragraphs, paragraph breaks, and general paragraph help. Here you go!
Dividing paragraphs is one of the most challenging aspects of writing for young writers and adults alike (along with many other challenging aspects!). That is why when people who do not write a lot write a full page with no paragraph breaks. That is also why middle school writers start writing and have no idea when to indent–so they randomly pick a spot (“Hmmm….looks like I’ve written enough to change paragraphs now…”) and indent.
1. They use my Directed Writing Approach!
In my Directed Writing Approach, every detail of every project is laid out for your student. None of my writing projects are “writing ideas” or “writing prompts.” Every writing assignment contains step-by-step instructions with much hand-holding along the way. The student is “directed” in how to write and what to write at all times—from brainstorming to research to outlining to rough draft and finally to revising.
“Prepositions show position!”
That is where I start. The very basics. Catchy. Easy to recite. Simple to remember.
From there, we branch out to the explanation: Prepositions show position of one thing to something else.
Of course, prepositions show time, space, and direction (among other things) of one thing to another thing. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Did you know that there is a group of pronouns called reflexive pronouns? I know, right? Not mentioned that often. I hardly remember studying them in school at all. And yet, we use them all the time—and even eloquent people use them wrong quite often. (How many interviews or speeches have you heard someone say, “Then my friend and myself….” or “He began talking to my friend and myself…” WRONG!
Conjunctive Adverbs (CA’s) are one of the most confusing parts of speech to teach because they are not used that often. However, we need to teach students what they are and how to write with them because they carry so much meaning! They are amazing for transitions–and they show so many relationships between words and between parts of a sentence. (Check out the Tricky Trick student download in this post for the four places to use Conjunctive Adverbs in a Sentence!) They also have several punctuation options (depending on whether the CA is in between two sentences, at the beginning of a sentence, at the end of a sentence, or splitting on complete sentence).
I’ve been teaching Major and Minor Works in every class and every private writing student meeting for two weeks now–and I feel like a broken record!
(Since I was teaching so much about it, I have provided teaching for my blog readers too—did you see these:
1) Color Essay Video Teaching (lots of detailed instruction on Major and Minor Works in the video AND the free lesson)
2) 5 Tips for Major and Minor Works From Language Lady (Yes, I got carried away and made a slideshow about it too!)
3) Tricky Tricks Download–print these off for your students!)