Thursday, March 28, 2013

Students will write right with the Ten-Sentence Format

Should educators tweet, "Good Bye" to proper paragraphs? Since the onset of texting, are these backbones of formal and informal writing becoming an endangered specie? Do students need to reinforce their basic understanding of the elements of a good paragraph in order to write and develop more in-depth essays? Do students need to learn how to write about the literature that they are reading?

This Ten Sentence Format will address all of those questions (No, Yes, Yes, Yes). This resource is perfect for clarifying and reinforcing the parts of an essay, for using as an announced or unannounced quiz when teachers of students grades 6-12 wish to check reading and writing comprehension and for general writing practice or warm-ups.

It reviews and reinforces the basic structure of a paragraph: Introduction (Hook, Overview, Thesis Statement), Body (Main Idea, Supporting Details), and Conclusion (Concluding statement and last thought{I call this a Kicker, as the last statement should end with a bang and not a whimper}).

Once students master the concept and criteria for a paragraph, they can easily learn how to stretch their Main Idea paragraphs into more paragraphs to create an essay. The details that they used to develop their Main Ideas can morph into Main Ideas on their own, each with even more explanations, specifics, direct or indirect citations, facts, statistics or any other means that will clarify and develop their Thesis Statement. Students clearly see how this design reinforces, expands and organizes their knowledge and information into a comprehensive paper. 

Use this format frequently

  • to reinforce the elements of a paragraph,
  • to check reading comprehension any time you desire a prose explanation and not a bulleted list, and 
  • So students may address a topic by incorporating the elements of a proper paragraph.
The Ten-Sentence format is comprised of: 
  • 1 hook,
  • 1 introductory/overview sentence,
  • 1 thesis statement,
  • 3 main idea sentences-each with one supporting detail (3 Main Idea sentence + 3 supporting details =6 sentences, total)
  • 1 concluding statement.
Total: 10 sentences 

This format is excellent to use for a quick quiz, too, when you want to check the students' comprehension, when you planned to give an assessment but just didn't have the time to create one, or when students are not participating in the discussion and you want to check if they have read the assigned pages. The ten sentence format does not call for a mad dash to the copy machine to print off enough quizzes the next period class.  All teachers need to do is:
  1. Pick a topic -I usually used one of the questions on the study guide that accompanied the reading or created one to stem from the class discussion.
  2. Write the topic on the board or distribute one of the handouts to each student.
  3. Write the above bulleted points under the topic (only if you did not use the Ten-Sentence Format handout).
  4. Explain to the class what they are to do, and
  5. Set a time limit. Fifteen minutes should be enough time.
NOTE:   For these quizzes, leave out the Hook and Overview statement since they are required for essays but not paragraphs.

For paragraph writing practice and for quizzes, topics can stem from a teacher-chosen topic, the literature under study, class discussions, or the students' minds.  Here are a few ways to incorporate this writing design into daily class schedules  and already prepared lessons without adding a completely separate planning increment: 
  • Warm-up ideas
  • Quote journals
  • Essay choices,
  • Study questions
  • Class discussion point, or
  • for Closure.
This product forms a part of the Writing Module in my book, The House of Comprehension. I am offering it here as a Free Sample Lesson so you can see the quality of the material in The House of Comprehension, as well as how writing and reading comprehension mesh so easily under the Common Core Standards. Teachers who want to show their students how to build strong houses of comprehension can find 40 more activities in the book, most where they can use the Ten-Sentence Format.

Download this primary Freebie on
Besides the Teacher Notes page and the printable handout, the offering includes a sample answer from a student who did not follow the format, and another sample from a student who did follow the format.

What  are your go-to formats for teaching writing paragraphs?

Happy writing,

1 comment:

  1. Don't forget another good way of simplifying your writing is using external resources (such as ). This will definitely make your life more easier