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This is an interesting lesson on Essay Writing involving a Beach Umbrella
8, 7, 6, 5
By – Marcy Winograd
Primary Subject – Language Arts
Secondary Subjects – Language Arts
Grade Level – 5-8
Objective: Students write a 5-paragraph essay.
Materials needed: beach umbrella (or ordinary umbrella) and post-its
Procedure: The teacher stands in front of the class with a closed umbrella and asks students why they think s/he brought the umbrella to class. Then, after warning those who are superstitious, the teacher opens the umbrella and asks, “What does this beach umbrella have to do with essay writing? What does the umbrella symbolize?” Following a round of guessing, the teacher explains that the umbrella is the thesis paragraph, the main idea of the essay, and that all other information must fall under the umbrella.
Next, the teacher announces the class will contribute to an essay on “Three Dreadful Chores.” Each student is asked to write four sentences on their post-it about their most dreaded household chore. The teacher walks around the room and chooses three students who have written about different chores to come up to the front of the class. Students line up next to the umbrella, while the teacher stands under the umbrella and extemporaneously announces the thesis or umbrella paragraph. “During the weekend, I’d prefer to play sports or talk on the phone, but I often have to do chores around the house. The three chores I dread the most are empting the kitty litter box, washing the dishes, and sweeping the garage.”
After the teacher announces the umbrella paragraph, the students standing next to the umbrella are invited, one at a time, to join her under the umbrella and read their post-it. The first student would discuss changing the kitty litter box, the second student would talk about the dishes and the third student would expound on sweeping the garage.
As each student turns to the next, the teacher offers a transition word — another, in addition, etc.
For the conclusion, students and teacher huddle under the umbrella while the teacher extemporaneously says a conclusion which restates the main idea and explains what difference it makes. “Because I must change the kitty litter box, wash the dishes and sweep the garage, I rarely have time to figure out new soccer strategies or run wild on the grass. My parents say these dreaded chores will build character, but right now all I’m concerned about building is my stamina on the field.”
After the teacher and students model the five-paragraph essay under the beach umbrella, students individually write a five-paragraph essay about the same or similar topic.
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