The Five-Paragraph Essay

The Five-Paragraph Essay-5
And in a 2016 blog post for the National Council of Teachers of English, Sacramento State associate professor Kim Zarins used the five-paragraph essay structure to show why she’s against teaching it.She called herself a high school “survivor of this form.” Despite its “long tradition, the five-paragraph essay is fatally flawed,” she wrote.

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“It doesn’t exemplify how we talk, how we write or how most essays you read are actually structured.” Consider paragraphs.

They should be about one subject and then naturally shift when that subject changes, Olin explains.

It can’t be simply uncontrolled, because the reader’s not going to get the point if it’s all over the map.”Rita Platt is currently a teacher librarian with classes from Pre-K to fourth grade at St. She thinks the five-paragraph essay format has room for creativity, such as through word choice, topic and progression of thought.

Kids can use the five-paragraph essay model to organize their thoughts, she says, and once they’re really comfortable, they can play around with it.

She says she learned the five-paragraph essay early on, and except in an AP English class she took in the 12th grade, the structure was pushed heavily on her at school.

She can’t say she’s ever written a five-paragraph essay for college.Her papers have all needed to be longer, though she does note that they do tend to stick to a five-paragraph type format—an introduction, a body and a conclusion.“In general, the consensus is you need more space than a five-paragraph essay gives you,” she says, adding that it’s a good place to start when learning how to write academically.“Kids need something to start with,” says Platt, who has 22 years of teaching experience across different grade levels.Campbell’s recommendation, which she says research backs, is to focus on reading good essay examples and give students in-class support while they write.He contends that the five-paragraph essay may be dead in the literal sense because instructors of college composition classes don’t assign it, but he believes its structure is still around.“I think a dissertation chapter is just a substantially more elaborate version of this,” Allen, who taught at West Virginia University for 35 years, explains.Hayes says college writing instructors need to get students to understand that the reason their K-12 teachers kept assigning five-paragraph essays was because they were working with “100, 120, 150 students,” and a standardized writing assignment “that works the same way every time” is easier to read, assess and grade.In regards to students who leave K-12 with a “strong ability to write the five-paragraph essay,” he says, ““I don’t want to snap them out of it because I don’t want to dismiss that knowledge.” Take Mc Kenzie Spehar, a Writing and Rhetoric Studies major at the University of Utah.“It cheapens a student’s thesis, essay flow and structure, and voice.” A year later, her stance hasn’t budged.“When I see five-paragraph essays come into the stack of papers, they invariably have this structural problem where the ceiling is so low, they don’t have time to develop a real thesis and a truly satisfying or convincing argument,” she says.


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