This post helps homeschool students learn how to write a good paragraph using an informational folder made especially for the job! So, if you’re a homeschooling mum and you want to find out how you can teach your child to write a good paragraph, read on!
How to Write a Good Paragraph
Learning how to write a good paragraph is the cornerstone to learning how to write well generally. We had used IEW briefly, and whilst I did love it, I’m naff at following any curriculum. I have a tendency to tweak, in fact it’s almost a compulsion! However, there were a few things I really appreciated about IEW and one of those things was the stylistic techniques. These stylistic techniques help to turn a mediocre paragraph into a great paragraph!
Introducing the Informationary
Deciding to turn those techniques into a check list meant I had me a plan! I made an ‘informationary‘. This is a folder for the children to use full of information including:
- A list of things I wanted included in a paragraph
- A list of things I didn’t want to see – words such as said or did – with lists of stronger words to use instead
- Punctuation I wanted checked before they handed in a piece of work to me.
It was so simple and made a huge difference to their writing. They knew what I expected and could systematically include everything on the list. At first there was a slight awkwardness to their writing as they tried to ‘fit’ everything in. But soon it became more comfortable and is now second nature.
Using the Informationary to Write Five Paragraph Essays
I didn’t stop there! My children were 10 and 11 at this point and ready for more than just one paragraph. In fact, I wanted to teach them how to write a good five paragraph essay. We have done a few before. However, they had required a lot of involvement from me, pointing them in the right direction. I felt that at least two of them were ready to be a little more independent. Obviously, at 10 and 11, I didn’t expect them to write a long essay without any help at all. On the other hand, I definitely wanted to begin to nudge them in that direction.
So I set about making another informationary. This time it containing all the information I required from the children when they wrote a five paragraph essay.
How to Make an Informationary
Making the Actual Folder
Turn two card folders inside out, re-attach them and stick them together so that the back and front had pockets:
The Front Pocket
On top of the front pocket, I stuck a laminated version of the essay schedule. This made clear my expectations of the children throughout each week. The pocket was there to store their spider diagrams, planning and rough notes, along with their neat copies:
The First Open Flap
On the inside of the folder I included the in-depth information about a five paragraph essay. This gave them instructions for the paragraphs required of an essay. For example, the introduction, topic paragraphs and conclusion. On the facing flap I included some of the stylistic techniques which demonstrated to the children how to write a good paragraph. These included dress ups, sentence openers, prepositions and clause starters:
On the Second Flap
Turning over the first flap, I added its of -ly adverbs and reminders of decorations such as metaphors and similes. On the next page, I pasted the banned words and a long list of alternate quality adjectives and strong verbs:
The Back Pocket
In the pocket at the back I put in a list of grammar rules. These would be used if the children forgot a grammar rule or repeatedly did something incorrectly. I am hoping over time they will infiltrate their brains and they’ll learn them off by heart. I can dream, can’t I?
And last but not least I wrote a check list of the very BASICS I expect from an essay. (I will be requiring them to tick these off for each piece of work they hand in). This list will grow as they become more independent. For now, it includes capitalisation at the start and punctuation at the end of each sentence. And making sure each sentence is a full sentence, with no fragments or run ons.
I laminated everything. Our last informationary became so tattered and dog-eared. So this time I thought I’d try to do something to preserve it for a bit longer. Also I want the children to be able to write on this one. Lamination allows them to cross things out as they include them and tick off the check list at the end.