5 Paragraph Essay is Best Vehicle For Teaching Expository Writing

5 Paragraph Essay is Best Vehicle For Teaching Expository Writing
The best vehicle for teaching expository writing is the 5-paragraph essay. The 5-paragraph essay is:
Those qualities, which make some English teachers shudder, are what makes the 5-paragraph essay such a good teaching tool for writers' ed.

Would you expect your daughter or son to learn to drive by participating in the Indy 500?

Of course not.

Yet many teachers expect their students to learn to write starting out in writing genres that are the equivalent of a high-powered race car.

You do not want to put beginning writers or beginning drivers in a flashy vehicle. Beginning writers, like beginning drivers, need a safe, reliable vehicle in which to develop everyday skills in exposition. The 5-paragraph essay fits the bill nicely. Writers are not likely to spin out of control working out a 5 paragraph nonfiction essay the way they could writing poetry or short stories.

The expository essay pattern that is traditionally referred to by the misleading name "five paragraph" is structured as a series of trios:

The essay itself has three parts: beginning, middle, and end.
The middle has three body paragraphs.
Each body paragraph is supported by three pieces of evidence.
Although that is the pattern, expository essays built from that pattern may look very different.

In the pen of an experienced writer, the 5 paragraph pattern may be modified into anything from argument essays to narrative essays. It could be turned into memos, white papers, or e-books. It could be lightly entertaining or stoically serious.

The pattern has this flexibility because it is primarily a tool for systematically thinking about a topic. The pattern forces students to work through their raw material in a predictable way. Providing they stick to the pattern, students cannot avoid thinking about each of the essential elements of nonfiction writing.

Most of the time, students use the pattern both to explore and to present their material. However, after students master the pattern, they do not cling to the pattern as a template for the final presentation. Without little or no encouragement, they readily slip into using it as a means of deciding what material present and how to present it. At that point, students can-and usually do-become more creative in their writing

Whether they are headed to college or to employment, the 5 paragraph essay is a reliable vehicle for getting students to their writing goals.

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