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How to Write an Introductory Paragraph, Easy Essay Intro. Paragraph Format, High School Teacher Vlog

look I get it writing is hard and teaching writing that’s really really hard [Music] alright guys let’s talk about writing this week I want to model for you the introductory paragraph format that I use to teach my freshmen how to build one of these things before I get into the nuts and bolts of all of that it’s funny but intro paragraph is not the first thing that I have my kids write so before we even get into this I make my kids start with one sentence they just have to write you one clear bold sentence and that is the thesis statement so before they get the green light they have to have a strong thesis statement I talked about that in a previous video on theme I guess the link would be down there for a theme about how to do that and answering what the author’s messages to the reader but also for argument and research this introductory paragraph format will work and the thesis idea works also it means to have a subject needs to have a student’s opinion about that subject it needs to be bold and something that two reasonable people would find interesting and maybe could have an argument about if it’s an argument paper so it has to have those things in it before they get the green light for me so once I get a good thesis down then they’re ready to write they think they’re ready to write the intro paragraph and get going but no no no I don’t give the clearance for that instead before they start writing this intro paragraph they then have to use one of my brainstorming organizers to harvest up all of the evidence or the concrete details from the text we’ve been studying or from their research to support their argument so the organizers I have why am i putting up there down there a previous video I gave you guys four different versions I have my kids pick one of them they’re free go ahead and grab a set down there and then they have to complete one of those which is really the the proof that the papers gonna work and that eventually will become the meat of the body paragraphs which I’ll probably talk about in the later video but for now we’re just talking about intro paragraph but once that organizer is done and I see that they’ve got it all like sticked in there then they’re ready to write the intro paragraph and that’s the format I want to share with you today and before I do that I just want to be Larry I’m gonna be super controversial but I don’t care I use formulas when I teach my kids especially my freshmen how to my kids need it I know that in the English teacher world using formulas for writing is seen as bad or uncreated but I got to tell you my kids just need them a few of them I said like 10% of my kids are just naturally gifted writers they already see it they kind of get it but 90% of my kids really struggle with this stuff and they need concrete examples and for me to give them skeletons and model what exactly goes where now ideally we lay the foundation in freshman year we give them those skeletons we reinforced it sophomore year and we start to let them kind of play with a little bit and then as their upperclassmen they’re finally ready as juniors and seniors to kind of move away from that formula but some of them never do and the older I get the more I’m realizing that’s okay some of our kids will become writers they’ll become you know wordsmiths and create Beauty on the page a lot of them just need to have I almost think of like the the formula is like a little lifeboat to help them navigate the choppy academic waters towards getting their diploma or maybe their Community College associate’s certificate they need to know how to build one of these things and so I break it down for them into step by step and some of them hang on to it for all four years is that the best way I don’t know it’s the only way that I have found that really works the kids are grateful because it’s something tangible for them to hold on to and they’re successful if you have a different way to teach great writing without using formulas hey you know make a video link it to me I’d love to see it but for now I’m sticking with this and I’m talking about it because it’s working in my world and hopefully it’ll help you and your struggling writers also okay that being said I think let’s just do it let’s just jump into what goes into an introductory paragraph all right you are looking at a skeleton of an introductory paragraph and as you can see it has four elements at play ultimately this paragraph will be between four and six sentences when the kids are done it is the classic funnel where we start broad with a hook grabbing attention something from our everyday lives and then we boil it down and get more and more specific as we lead down to that really precise thesis okay I’m gonna start with some controversy here I like hooks I know that makes me a weird Oh in the world of English teachers because so many of my colleagues just despise the hook but I actually really love a beautifully written hook it’s a gift to the reader as the writer takes us by the hand and leads us into the page the problem with the hook I think why so many of my colleagues don’t like it it’s because they’ve read so many terrible hooks over the years that they’re just over it there’s like look and you guys know what I’m talking about you know Webster’s dictionary defines friendship as and you’re like oh my gosh please stop or the kid who asks a rhetorical question or just like restates that the essay question I’m sorry our essay question did them in a question back and that answers that question and you’re like oh my gosh please stop with the questions instead I really want strong powerful statements so I’ve actually banned rhetorical questions from my freshmen level writing I allow select juniors to fold it back in once their upperclassmen that team that have to have a better handle on it and actually can use it like as a tool to move along their argument but oh not a hook and not for freshmen that’s just my bias but anyway that the ones I have them do I teach to them are launching with an analogy or metaphor making an interesting comparison maybe they research a famous quote and of course include citation that connects to what they’re going to be talking about they could take a cliche and turn it upside down a fresh spin on a cliched idea definitely perks up my ears or launch with a shocking statement if a kid gives me something and I read the first line I’m like oh how they gonna prove that this ought to be good then I’m hooked right then I’m pulled in and that’s exactly what the hook is supposed to do so I encourage us to teach our kids how to use those and it’ll improve their writing and make it glorious for us side note by the way on the SAT the College Board does not reward use of the hook which gives more ammunition to the other side I’ll just put that out there I don’t care though I teach my kids to still use it my juniors I tell them it’s optional if they’ve got time great if not you know so be it okay that’s neither here nor there let’s get on to the typical introductory paragraph so after our hook which is just one sentence we then slide into the bridge which can be a whole full sentence but more often it’s more like half a sentence and the job of the bridge in lit analysis is to introduce the author and the work to be discussed the poem the short story the novel what have you or if it’s argument or research well then we’re identifying and introducing the controversial issue or identifying the topic to be discussed basically the bridge is there is a little half sentence to sort of smooth the transition between the hook something from our everyday world into a summary of the work to be discussed as we’re getting more more narrow and refined on what our topic is going to be here so the summary is about two or three sentences I tell my kids if they start writing a fourth sentence of summary they need to stop and step away and then come back when they’re fresh and they edit that down because four sentences of summary is way too much three sentences is more than enough they can often do it in two but basically in those two sentences I want my kids to give me the background information that somebody who is not familiar with the issue or hasn’t read the book would need to know in order for this particular essay to make sense so boil away all the fluff and the extra stuff that that person wouldn’t need and just tell me what is essential necessary to know in order for this part the thesis to make sense and that brings us down to the last sentence of the introductory paragraph which is your thesis statement it is one sentence that clearly and directly answers the essay question that I asked the thesis is going to have the subject and the kids opinion in it and I talked in our recent video about theme so I’ll put a link down below about the necessity to find something bold right I really don’t want a vanilla average boring thesis statement I want something that’s interesting something I haven’t read a million times I mean why would we spend three pages proving something that everybody already agrees is true instead a really great thesis needs to be insightful bold something that two reasonable people could have an argument about that’s what makes her a really great thesis okay so those are the elements that play for an introductory paragraph and again it’s gonna be about four to six sentences by the time the kid is done all right now spoiler alert is coming up I’m going to show you how all this works in like a complete paragraph piece of writing but I want to warn you I’m using James Hearst magnificent short story The Scarlet Ibis for this so spoiler alert spoiler alert if you have not read the story you might want to pause the video because I’m about to ruin the ending for you and it is a magnificent ending so I would encourage you to stop go read that story and then like come back when you’re ready but if if you know your game here we go don’t say I didn’t warn you alright here is what it looks like in class so after my kids my freshmen have read and we’ve dissected and we’ve worked with the scarlet ibis I showed them what an introductory paragraph looks like on that story so I’m going to read this one to you I know it’s weird I don’t usually read to you from the screen but I just want you to hear it and feel the flow of how these four pieces work together so I’m gonna read it to you just like I read it to my kids in class okay here we go love is a toxic medicine holding the ability to both heal and harm in James her short story the scarlet ibis the narrator known only as brother discovers this painful truth as he fails in his attempt to help his little brother doodle since birth doodle has been weak and disabled unable to perform normal daily functions such as walking running and swimming dissatisfied with the situation his older brother decides to teach him all of these physical activities pushing doodle further and further until one day he dies as a result of the physical strain ultimately Hurst uses the complicated relationship between doodle and brother to show that love always contains some drops of poison oh I don’t know about you but there’s a paper I want to read so it’s got flow it’s a good model it’s not perfect you know nothing’s perfect but boy if I could get my freshman if I can get my juniors to write with that fluidity and that precision oh I am all about that that is my end goal so I use this as a model with the freshmen and then we pick it apart we talk about why it works why I chose it as a sample and then I give them another copy of it for they can keep in their notes so this is a handout and actually the slides that you’re seeing and this handout if you click down below in the comment or in the little descriptor area you can grab a set of these also you can use to have these but this is a handout I would give the freshmen that has that paragraph so they can keep it and then it has the for parts labeled and then if you look at the your assignment piece I use this as a training ground to help them do their own so the way it would work is we would talk about the scarlet ibis in class and then we I wouldn’t use a different short story we had recently read and then do one together as a full class and then I would give them this assignment where I would have them maybe work in teams of two – you know either pick the scarlet ibis or another short story and build me a fresh introductory paragraph and then eventually maybe two you know two stories from now I would have each kid individually write me this introductory paragraph I’m hoping that’s helpful to see a model of what the final product looks like and sort of ingredients that go into it if you want another a second example of a finished intro paragraph product I have one for links and fuses thank you ma’am that I also use it the freshman levels so that story is great if you don’t know it’s great for understanding symbolism and having them look at biblical allusion so if you’re needing to cover those thank you ma’am is a wonderful tool for that I’ll put a link down there for you guys as well and I have another completed intro paragraph model and assignment just like the one that I did for Scarlet Ibis in the video very very similar structure you can check that out at that link down there after talking about all this this week I’m just left with the reminder that writing is really hard that’s kind of what makes it awesome in my opinion because if it were easy then it wouldn’t be valuable but boy it’s hard and teaching writing is really really hard our kids need models and so hopefully this will be helpful for you in that I’m sure I will come around soon and build the how to write a concluding paragraph video and I’m sure I’ll do one for body paragraphs eventually I wish I had a more like set schedule but basically I’m just making videos on topics that I feel interested in talking about each weekend this week I just felt like talking about introductory paragraphs so that’s what I did um if there’s a special topic you want me to address definitely leave me a comment below otherwise I’ll just see you next week and we’ll see what I come up with alright have a good one bye guys [Applause] [Music] [Applause] [Music] [Applause]

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