Pine Point School, 2009-2010

WRITING LESSON : The 4-sentence formula (or recipe) for opening and closing paragraphs.

Opening Paragraph:

Sentence #1: A statement meant to surprise or shock (“I hate having to go outside for recess”), or a once-sentence story (“When I was 10, a boy who lived across the street won a national prize for public speaking”), or a quote from (“Benjamin Franklin once said, ‘A penny saved is a penny earned”)

Sentence #2: A commentary on Sentence #1. Think of a commentary as an explanation, opinion, feeling, or reflection about the opening sentence.

Sentence #3: Another commentary on Sentence #1

Sentence #4: Leading naturally from Sentences 1,2, and 3, a statement of the main idea (thesis) of your essay.

Model (from an essay on a poem):
(#1, a surprising statement>) I hate having to go outside for recess in the winter. (#2 a CM about #1>) It bothers me that I have to waste my valuable time outside when I could be doing homework or talking with friends inside where it's warm. (#3, a CM about #1>)) I have much to accomplish each day, and I don’t have time to dawdle around outside in the freezing air. (#4, a statement of main point, or thesis>) The poet John Melvin would probably hate taking outside recess, too, for he clearly and powerfully described his distaste for wasting time in his poem, “Lost Minutes”.

Closing paragraph:

Sentence #1: A reference back to opening paragraph.
Sentence #2: A commentary on Sentence #1
Sentence #3: Another commentary on Sentence #1
Sentence #4: A re-statement, in very different words, of the thesis.

(#1, a reference back to opening paragraph>) Perhaps I should try harder to enjoy outside recess. (#2, a CM on #1>) Perhaps I could, after all, make some new friends or get some good exercise. (#3, a CM on #1>)Who knows – I might learn to be grateful for the chance to get outside. (#4, restatement, in different words, of thesis>) After all, in his beautiful poem John Melvin showed us how to love even those hateful “lost minutes”.

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