Part I: Introduction--What inspired my argumentative response?
For decades, too many high-school teachers have been instilling persuasive writing skills by teaching students the five-paragraph essay. You know it:
Introduction with three reasons
A summary of all three reasons
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 With the Common Core Standards designed to shift the way we teach students to think, read, and write, this outdated writing tradition must end.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 your son, daughter, niece, or nephew (or a young person you care about) is learning it--prepare to engage with the teacher to end it.
The five-paragraph essay is rudimentary, unengaging, and useless.
If I were using five paragraphs to convince you, based on the argument above, you wouldn't need to read any farther. Instead, we should use the original argumentative form Aristotle promoted but that somehow got watered down into the ordinary structure we, unfortunately, were likely taught or may currently teach.
Aristotle became one of the godfathers of rhetoric by creating structures for persuasive writing and speaking that--if taught to young people today--would transform writing instruction and facilitate the implementation of the Common Core, proving that students--when guided appropriately--can succeed with critical thinking in the 21st century.
Part 2: Background--What preceded my argument and / or what needs to be clarified?
Teachers know that, in the 90s, state standards were developed to guide instruction. Some teachers liked them; some hated them. 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."
Besides allowing for instructional consistency among states, the states help align instruction vertically so one grade's instruction leads to the next.
The Common Core site also states that "these standards define the knowledge and skills students should have within their K-12 education careers so that they will graduate high school able to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing academic college courses and in workforce training programs. The standards:
- are aligned with college and work expectations;
- are clear, understandable and consistent;
- include rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order skills;
- build upon strengths and lessons of current state standards;
- are informed by other top performing countries, so that all students are prepared to succeed in our global economy and society; and
- are evidence-based."
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.E., and even in math. 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.
Part 3: Confirmation--What supports my argument?
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.
Together we came up with this structure for arguments, which has served me and students well:
specific topic + debatable view + significance to the audience
- 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:
- Example C: Despite its widespread use, the traditional five-paragraph essay does not allow students to express ideas engagingly, proving that this structure limits students' writing development.
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. If we use Aristotle's original form instead, students are able to incorporate compare/contrast, cause/effect, definition, or analysis paragraphs as appropriate. We'll have more modes to teach; students will have more options.
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.
Part 4: Refutation--What challenges my argument?
I know. I know. I'm hearing, "But how are students going to learn organization without learning the five-paragraph essay?" My response: they're not learning an organizational pattern that will help them succeed outside of your own classroom.
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. The College Board promotes the SOAP format to help students understand guidelines and expectations:
Subject: Who or what are you writing about?
Occasion: What idea or incident is inspiring this need for persuasion? How much time to you have to write this?
Audience: Who will read this? What do they believe about the subject? Are they a supportive or skeptical audience?
Purpose: 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. The five paragraph essay limits students into about 1 1/2 pages.
Part 5: Conclusion--What are the benefits of accepting my argument?
Aristotle called the last part of the persuasive event the epilogue. Unlike the five-paragraph essay that begins with "As you can see . . ." and leaves the reader thinking, "Why are you telling me what you told me a couple minutes ago? I'm not stupid," Aristotle, in The Rhetoric, tells us a good writer should do this in the conclusion: "make the audience well-disposed towards ourselves and ill-disposed to our opponent." One way to achieve this is to explain the benefits if the audience accepts our view. 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. Furthermore, rhetorical limits won't be obstacles; they'll become guidelines for success.
Finally, students will learn that their persuasive abilities, when used responsibly, will have value outside of the 46 minutes they were given to write.
I'm adding this link to student essays that use Aristotle's form to help readers understand how they work. 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.
What strategies have you used or seen that help students develop writing and critical-thinking skills?
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It’s simple: if you want to join 40% of college freshmen who manage to perform at the expected entry-level during the 1st academic year, explore different essay examples and read valuable information from experts. A typical academic 5 paragraph essay includes five paragraphs. As a rule, a student has to introduce the topic, state and support up to three arguments, and sum up the results in the last paragraph, conclusion – a 5 paragraph essay outline explains every section in details.
Students fail to come up with a good five paragraph essay because the teachers sometimes do not provide necessary information and ignore the fact not all students are talented writers. Is there a way to overcome problems with homework assignments? The best option is to go online to hire professional academic authors & editors that are experienced in many different fields of study.
WRITE MY 5 PARAGRAPH ESSAY
What Is a 5 Paragraph Essay?
What is a 5 paragraph essay? A five paragraph essay is an ordinary academic task assigned by the school/college teacher in order to check the student’s skills, knowledge, and ambitions. It is an informative piece of writing with some descriptions of the chosen topic. This writing task is assigned to check how well a student interacts with the reader, defend the thesis sentence, conduct research, come up with arguments, and summarize the findings in one paragraph. This assignment improves reading, writing, and analytical skills a lot.
Five-paragraph essay is a standard example for the educational institutions like high schools and colleges. A student has to ensure the relevance of the topic. It is important to support the arguments in every single paragraph with the help of credible evidence.
Teachers know that many students might need these skills for the post-graduate standard tests: TOEFL, SAT, IELTS, and even ACT. The knowledge of writing basics is a supporting part of any admission process. If you have no idea how a good five-paragraph essay should be formatted, please have a look at different examples posted online for free.
Different Types of 5-Paragraph Essays
It is important to know each of the five types of papers before deciding on the sentence and paragraph structure. They are:
- Cause and effect
Actually, we can point out more types like compare and contrast or character analysis essay. However, those five are the basic categories. Anyway, you need to make an outline and start memorizing how a five-paragraph essay should look like as it is the most common structure of any academic writing assignment, no matter whether we talk about your homework paper or test/examination.
How to Write a 5 Paragraph Essay: Easy Way!
It is time to find out how to write a 5 paragraph essay. Five paragraph format usually includes an introduction with the powerful thesis statement in the last sentence, 3-5 body paragraphs (usually, it's three paragraphs), and conclusion. Body paragraphs should begin with the sentence which contains a powerful argument:
- First paragraph: argument one
- Second paragraph: argument two
- Third paragraph: argument three
Each of the arguments serves as the supporting point for your thesis statement. There should be no less than three arguments in favor or against the chosen topic or research question. These arguments have to support your thesis statement: without persuasive evidence, it is impossible to persuade the reader of the importance of your research question.
5 Paragraph Essay Outline: Step-by-Step Student Guide
Once you have picked the topic to write about, develop an outline first. An outline figures as an action plan for your project. It allows keeping in mind what each paragraph should include. Second, depending on the paper format (MLA, Chicago, etc.) write an abstract or your first paragraph which is an introduction. Writing an abstract is a requirement of the APA format. It’s a one-paragraph summary of the essay.
Do not ignore the important role of a 5 paragraph essay outline – it will serve as a perfect roadmap to a journey called academic paper writing. Take a closer look at each possible section.
- Introduction – Introduces the basic parts of the 5-paragraph essay. Begin with a broad sentence to reveal the main idea to the target audience to catch an eye (this initial sentence is called hook). Share the context of the topic; show its meaning to the audience. Stress the research problem and outcomes/interpret the key themes along with further development of the plot, and end the introduction with a powerful thesis statement.
- Topic sentence – It reveals the main idea of the specific paragraph and the way it relates to the thesis statement.
- Evidence – A few sentences that support the topic sentence. Choose them during the process of in-depth research to explain the topic and support every stated claim.
- Commentary – An author’s feedback that evaluates the selected evidence.
- Concluding sentence – The one which ties the paragraph’s main idea directly to the thesis statement.
- Repeat the steps mentioned above to create a couple of more body paragraphs.
- Conclusion – Review the major arguments. Reword the thesis statement, provide a summary of the body paragraphs one-by-one; add up to 2 sentences that motivate the reader to take specific actions regarding the discussed problem/conduct independent research to learn more.
Here is a shorter version of a 5 paragraph essay outline:
Go into the details below to understand how to write a 5 paragraph essay worth of teacher’s attention.
How to Write a 3 Paragraph Essay?
Do not waste too much time on learning how to write a 3 paragraph essay as this form of academic paper is not popular. To make it short, the three-paragraph essay structure must look the way below.
- Topic Sentence + Argument + Writer’s Explanation
- References (a separate page in the end)
When it comes to in-text citations and bibliography, they are used in any academic essay to defend the primary ideas. All teachers want to see at least three credible sources in your paper. Sources help to defend your thesis statement as they usually refer to the researchers that have to prove author’s words. Make sure that the books, magazines, articles or other sources of your choice are no older than 5 years before including them in any paragraph of your essay.
No matter how many paragraphs a student plans to include. Introduction & conclusion look alike in any situation – take a look at their basics!
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Five Paragraph Essay Introduction
No matter whether you want to learn how to write a 3 paragraph essay of 5 paragraph paper, an introduction remains the same. The first paragraph should include three important parts (sentences):
- Thesis statement
The hook is about grabbing reader's attention with the single first sentence. Some good ideas for the introductory sentence may be a joke, shocking fact, or intriguing question on the chosen theme. On the whole, the entire paragraph is about forcing the reader to read the essay sentence-by-sentence. A trailer is like a movie trailer - outlines and explains what's coming next. Finally, state your thesis in the last sentence of your introduction paragraph. We will discuss some of the introductory elements in more details.
The opening few sentences must make the reader realize why the proposed topic may play a significant role in his/her life. Example: A writer offers to discuss the way ordinary citizens can help to avoid corruption as it influences the income level of most of the population. It would be a smart step to start the paper with some impressive statistics. Play with real facts. Quote famous people to make the target audience understand why it is important to research the suggested problem and act.
Important: Professional Advice!
“After the hook sentence, share a background explaining why the problem matters. Recall the rent events in the world of politics/economics or social sphere to stress the increasing level of corruption in the society. End up with the strong thesis statement. It may sound like, “As the level of corruption in our country has increased by 15% during the last 3 months according to [source], a sharp need to regulate associated issues with the government’s support became obvious, and every citizen should contribute to it by reporting about any signs of corruption.”
Helen Teashort, academic counselor and professional writer at WriteMyPaper4Me
Five Paragraph Essay Conclusion
Before talking about the conclusion, it is necessary to have a look at the way body paragraphs are built. Using transition words, move to the process of writing your second paragraph, which is actually the first paragraph of your essay body. Find all possible ideas on your research question. Pick the best parts to come up with at least three impressive arguments. Include examples into each paragraph of the paper's body – the examples may also act as excellent supporting points for your thesis.
The last paragraph is the conclusion: write down some transition words to transfer from your body part to the last paragraph. A conclusion should restate thesis sentence. This time, you'll have to write down the conclusions grabbed from each body paragraph. Explain how they are all interrelated and think about possible alternatives and offer predictions for the future.
Know the General Grading System and Examine 5 Paragraph Essay Example
Please find the information below to know the grading rubric for any academic five-paragraph paper.
It is important to know that specific schools, colleges, and universities might have their own grading rubrics. However, the five-point system is the most frequently met. There are five features used while grading your five-paragraph essay on any topic:
- Focus: Were the supporting points strong enough to defend each argument and thesis statement?
- Organization. What about the essay structure: how well were the transition words between paragraphs used, has the writer developed the proper outline, and did he keep to the specific outline?
- Conventions: Were there any mistakes in the sentences (grammar/spelling/punctuation)? Was there any run on sentences?
- Style: Were the students successful with their vocabulary in the five-paragraph essays; what about the level of creativity and plagiarism?
- Content: Did the student manage to prove the argument and topic thesis properly, logically, concisely, & meaningfully?
The best way to meet all of the criteria listed above is to download a free 5 paragraph essay example on a popular topic.
30 Excellent 5 Paragraph Essay Topics to Observe
In-depth research helps to define the topic if your teacher does not assign you one. It is one of the most difficult parts as students often get stuck when deciding on their thesis sentence. Select your topic based on these parameters:
- How easy is it to find supporting points?
- How easy would it be to make powerful supporting arguments?
- Will your introduction paragraph be eye-catching for your reader?
- Would it be possible to include a strong thesis in the last sentence of the first paragraph?
- Is the subject interesting/relevant to your community? How the conclusion and forecasts may help?
The list of great 5 paragraph essay topics from the top college students and even professors will help to make a final decision regarding the main research problem.
5 Paragraph Essay Topics for Middle School
- Things to do to defend endangered species of animals/plants from continuous extinction
- School teachers should allow students to use their mobile devices for lessons
- School children are too young to put makeup
- Teachers must pass certain proficiency tests and share results with their students to prove they are competent in the particular field of study
- Fast-food companies are guilty of the increased level of obesity
- Soccer will not ever become popular enough in the United States
- Some of the prestigious sports celebrities justify the major number of cash that they are paid
- Textbooks are an old-fashioned way of learning; e-Books and mobile apps should be popularized
- Politicians are overpaid for doing nothing special
- Defining personal heroes/role models
- Spending a day with any person in the world: Who would it be? Why?
- How the educational semester has helped to improve knowledge of Math
- The importance of English language classes
- There is no way to force school students to wear uniform
- Having a higher education does not necessarily result in a successful job
5 Paragraph Essay Topics for High School
- Reasons why highly-paid jobs at top overseas organizations are likely to be filled by men
- Parallels between dictatorship and high school bullying
- Voting on a new subject: Which one to include in the curriculum?
- Are Hollywood actors overrated?
- Does the death penalty work in the United States?
- Teachers must give more freedom to their students
- Boys and girls should study in separate classes
- Nuclear weapon is a killing device
- The use of animals in scientific studies is immoral & unethical
- The right age for dating
- Use imagination to discuss which social norms and rules can be changed for a better or removed
- E-learning is getting more powerful than a traditional education
- Wealthy people should share their goods with poorer people
- Fashion is not important when it comes to defining personality
- High school grading system is not 100% accurate/fair
If you are still looking for the efficient academic writing help to develop a well-organized five-paragraph paper, know that you may order a full writing solution online without any obstacles or risks.