How to Use Numerical Values to Write Essays

How to Use Numerical Values to Write Essays
Using numerical values to identify and apply expository writing structure has proved an effective tool in identifying expository text structure and helping writers organize essays. The numerical values eliminate the writing jargon that varies from teacher to teacher and curriculum to curriculum. Instead, writers simply apply the implicit hierarchy of the number system to that of reading and writing. Writers just seem to intuitively "get" the idea of a number system applied to their expository writing in essays.
One such writing program uses following number system:

(1) for the introductory strategies of an essay introduction-for example, a definition or a preview of the topic sentences.
(2) for the thesis statement that "talks about" the introduction strategies.
(3) for the topic sentences that "talk about" the thesis statement.
(4) for the major details that "talk about" the topic sentence.
(5) for the support details that "talk about" the major details.
(6) for the conclusion strategies-for example, a thesis re-statement or summary.

For Developing Recognition of Text Structure

Try analyzing expository reading by numbering the sentences. Critique the writing by analyzing the structure and whether there is sufficient evidence, e.g. enough (5s) to back the (4s).

For Essay Writing

Using your own writing prompts, practice varying sentence order within the numerical hierarchy to help students develop a flexible writing style to address the demands of the writing prompt and improve the quality of your essays.

1. (3)-(4)-(4)
2. (3)-(4)-(4)-(4)
3. (3)-(4)-(5)-(4)-(5)
4. (4)-(5)-(3)-(4)-(5)
5. (4)-(5)-(4)-(5)-(3)
6. (4)-(5)-(4)-(5)
7. (3)-(4)-(5)-(4)-(5)-(4)-(5)
8. (3)-(4)-(4)-(4)-(5)
9. (3)-(4)-(4)-(5)-(4)-(5)
10. (3)-(4)-(5)-(4)-(5)-(5)
11. (Transition Statement)-(3)-(4)-(5)-(4)-(5)
12. (3)-(4)-(5)-(4)-(5)-(Concluding Statement)
13. (1)-(1)-(2) added to any two of the above body paragraphs
14. (6)-(6)-(6) added to any two of the above body paragraphs
15. (1)-(1)-(2) added to any two of the above body paragraphs (6)-(6)-(6)

Mark Pennington is an educational author, presenter, reading specialist, and middle school teacher. Mark is committed to differentiated instruction for the diverse needs of today's remedial reading students. Visit Mark's website at to check out his free teacher resources and books: Teaching Reading Strategies, Teaching Essay Strategies, Teaching Grammar and Mechanics, and Teaching Spelling and Vocabulary.

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