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Learning About Paragraphs: How Our Stories Evolved from Words

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Ben VandenBerg

on 27 August 2013

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Transcript of Learning About Paragraphs: How Our Stories Evolved from Words

brought to you by this wise owl Learning About Paragraphs Since the pilcrow, writing became more organized, and it's been much more enjoyable to work with. The history Once upon a time there were no such things as paragraphs, and writing was simply a mess. It wasn't until the 1440's that something called the pilcrow, came around. Say, "Hi," to the pilcrow. It means "chapter" in Latin. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pilcrow Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes: The Parts to a Paragraph Why Use Paragraphs? They show readers that the writer is moving from one idea to the next It shows the reader that the writer is moving setting or changing the person speaking. It shows the reader that the writer has organized his or her work and makes the writing easier to read. It gives the reader a break; a chance to understand one "thing" before moving on to another. Topic Sentence
and Main Idea The main idea of a paragraph is often stated inside of the topic sentence. A main idea is the overall point of a paragraph. A topic sentence can be found of a paragraph. at the beginning in the middle at the end A topic sentence is a sentence in a paragraph that captures the main idea. Some paragraphs have topic sentences, and others do not. Many multiracial kids glide easily between their mixed cultures. Kelly Dube, 12, of Los Angeles is half Korean and half French Canadian. His mother takes him to a Buddhist temple, where he has learned how to meditate. He can understand and speak some Korean and knows a little French. Most of the time, though, he doesn't think about his bi-racial status: "If anything, I think I'm more American." Quickly, quickly we gathered the sheep into the pens. Dogs barked, and people shouted out orders to one another. Children rushed through the village gathering firewood to pile inside the homes. Men and women scooped up pots and pots of water, filling cisterns and containers as rapidly as possible. People pulled the last ears of corn from the fields and turned their backs on the dry stalks. Finally, we all stood together in the plaza in the center of the village for just a moment before the fighters went to stand near the walls and the wide-eyed children were coaxed inside the houses. We were prepared for the coming battle. Topic Sentence
at the beginning Topic Sentence
at the end Stated vs. Implied When a paragraph has a topic sentence, then the
main idea is "stated," like in the last two paragraphs that you just read. A topic sentence is a good thing, generally. They help the reader more easily understand the literature. But, when there is no topic sentence and the main idea is NOT stated, then we as a reader must "imply" the main idea. The main idea is "implied." "Oh, Lottie, it's good to see you," Bess said, but saying nothing about Lottie's splendid appearance. Upstairs Bess, putting down her shabby suitcase, said, "I'll sleep like a rock tonight," without a word of praise for her lovely room. At the lavish table, top-heavy with turkey, Bess said, "I'll take light and dark both," with no marveling at the size of the bird, or that there was turkey for two elderly women, one of them too poor to buy her own bread. ...this paragraph does not have a topic sentence and we have to imply what the main idea is. So, what do you think it is? Identifying Main Ideas
and
Topic Sentences Get out your detective hats and magnifying glasses, because you'll need them. It takes a keen eye and an attention to detail. Look for the main idea in the following paragraphs. Here are some tips:
1) Read the entire paragraph without thinking about main idea or topic sentence or anything, just read it.
2) Reread and check for a topic sentence at the beginning, at the end, and in the middle. It would be one sentence that can be applied to all of the sentences and make sense.
3) If you still can't find a topic sentence, then maybe it doesn't have one, it's not stated. Then, you'll have to imply one and make it up yourself. He turned and looked back at the stand of raspberries. The bear was gone; the birds were singing; he saw nothing that could hurt him. There was no danger here that he could sense, could feel. In the city, at night, there was sometimes danger. You could not be in the park at night, after dark, because of the danger. But here, the bear had looked at him and had moved on and -- this filled his thoughts -- the berries were so good. Exercise 1 Remember, the main idea is the overall point of the paragraph. If the selection has a topic sentence, write it down. If it has no topic sentence, write the main idea of the paragraph in your own words. Like lots of other kids her age, eight-year-old Auralea Moore plays baseball, swims, and skis. She also has a favorite plaything: a 19-inch doll named Susan, who was handcrafted to look like her. Auralea was born with spina bifida, a birth defect that has left her paralyzed from the waist down. Her look-alike doll, equipped with a pair of blue and silver "designer" braces, helps her remember that although she may be handicapped, she is definitely not out of the action. Personally, I thought Maxwell was just about the homeliest dog I'd ever seen in my entire life. He looked like a little old man draped in a piece of brown velvet that was too long, with the leftover cloth hanging in thick folds under his chin. Not only that, his long droopy ears dragged on the ground; he had sad wet eyes and huge thick paws with splayed toes. I mean, who would love a dog like that, except my brother Joji, aged nine, who is a bit on the homely side himself. Imply the meaning and
make your own topic sentence. Exercise 2 for each of the following paragraphs, write a topic sentence that communicates the main idea. 1. A bottle of nail polish can cost as little as a dollar and last for months, depending on how much you use. You can find it in every color in nature and any unnatural color you can imagine. Best of all, if you get tired of a color, you can easily change it. 2. This movie is packed with action. I have never seen so many chases and explosions before. It also has an important lesson about friendship. The two main characters always look out for each other. Maybe the best thing about it is the music. The soundtrack will certainly be a bestseller. 3. First, you need some supplies. These include a roller or brush, a ladder tall enough to reach the roof, and enough paint to cover the whole house. You should have already scraped off the old paint. Start at the top of a section and work your way down to avoid dripping wet paint on a finished part. Supporting
Sentences These are the details that expand on and explain a paragraph's main idea. These details can include: Sensory Detail Facts Examples Sensory details are what we experience through our five senses - sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. Facts give information that can be proven to be true. Examples give typical instances of an idea. Sight - The bright sun glared off the front windshield of the car. Hearing - Thunder boomed down the canyon, echoing off the walls. Touch - My hands felt frozen to the cold, steel handlebars. Taste - Thirstily, she gulped down the sweet orange juice. Smell - the sharp, unpleasant odor of asphalt met his nose. In 1998, Mark McGwire slammed seventy home runs in one season to break the record of sixty-one held by Roger Maris. Fierce windstorms occur worldwide. For example, tornadoes have
wind speeds over 200 miles per hour. Exercise 3 Practice with the following topic sentences, and create at least two details to support each one. 1. The Time I spend with my friends on Saturday nights is my favorite time of the week.
2. My dream is to spend two days in a shopping mall.
3. One person's actions can make a difference in the lives of others.
4. When I feel hungry, I can just imagine my favorite meal. The Clincher Sentence Also known as a concluding sentence, the clincher sentence echoes the topic sentence. Not all paragraphs have a clincher sentence, however. You may want one to cement your main idea in the reader's mind. Helping the homeless helps the community. When homeless people are given housing assistance and job training, they can become our neighbors, co-workers, and friends. Not only do they find work and learn to support themselves, but they also pay taxes and share their skills with others. Every person we help out of homelessness is one more person who can enrich our neighborhood and community. *Notice how the last sentence pulls together the meaning in the topic sentence. Exercise
4 For each of the following short paragraphs, write a clincher sentence by wrapping up the information but not repeating it. 1. Eating food in the library is a bad idea. Crumbs get on the floor and between the pages when you eat, even if you are careful. These tiny bits of food may be impossible for you to see, but insects know they are there and will raid the books to find them. These insects will eventually harm the pages.

2. Computers have made getting information faster and easier. Almost all schools use them now, and they are very helpful in doing homework or typing papers. Before computers were available, most students had to do research by going to libraries, which might not be open. Now students can use computers any time of the day in their own homes or at a friend's house. Supporting Sentences Clincher Sentence Topic Sentence ...and because it's Norris approved!!
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