Lesson: Supporting Paragraphs

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Lesson Objective

Students will use their research graphic organizers to write supporting paragraphs about a topic.

Lesson Plan

Connection (3-5 mins): Teachers should be seated on the carpet with a partner.  They will be expected to turn and talk to this partner throughout the lesson.  Yesterday, we wrote amazing introduction paragraphs to our research papers.  I enjoyed reading each of your paragraphs last night and I think you will find my feedback helpful.  Today, we will begin the hard work of writing our papers.  You have all taken the time to fill out your graphic organizers with information and sources to answer your research questions.  You will use that information to structure your supporting paragraphs of your paper.

Teach/Active Engagement (10-12 mins): Teacher places example of filled in graphic organizer focused on research topic (Abraham Lincoln).  Researchers, you are all at the same point as me in the research process. We spent the last week finding answers to our research questions and recording these answers on our graphic organizers. Today, we will turn each of these questions into a supporting paragraph in our paper.  I will model one paragraph for you and then it’s your turn.

My first question about Abraham Lincoln was focused on his childhood.  When I write my paragraph, I need to keep in mind the paragraph structure with an introduction sentence.  This sentence should tie back into my opinion about the topic.  For example, my introduction paragraph stated that Lincoln’s life was interesting.  Therefore, I will make the first sentence of my paragraph focused on this aspect.  Teacher models writing  topic sentence on the hamburger graphic organizer paper. “Abraham Lincoln had an interesting and unique childhood.”

I am using this graphic organizer to help me organize my thoughts, to make sure that I keep the same paragraph structure.  Once, we finish our entire paper, we can rewrite our paragraphs without the graphic organizer.

Now that I have my topic sentence, I can now use the information I found about Lincoln’s childhood to complete my first supporting paragraph.  Teacher calls on a student to read the first piece of evidence on my graphic organizer.  Student reads aloud, “ Lincoln was born in Kentucky to a family of farmers”.  As a writer, my job is to include this information in my paragraph about Lincoln’s childhood but I also have to make sure this sentence supports my topic sentence about Lincoln’s life being interesting.  Watch me as I write my first supporting detail sentence.  Teacher writes on graphic organizer for students to see, “ Lincoln’s was born in Kentucky and both his parents were farmers in a small town”.  Did you see how I used the information I found while researching to write a sentence supporting my topic. 

Let’s work on the second supporting sentence.  I also included in my graphic organizer that Lincoln only attended school for eighteen months.  This is a very interesting fact and ties in to my topic of Lincoln’s childhood.  Turn and tell your partner an idea for our next supporting sentence.  Students turn and talk.  Teacher calls on students to share out responses, adds second supporting sentence to the paragraph graphic organizer.

My last supporting detail listed on my research organizer is that Lincoln moved many times with his father who was married many times.  How can we add this information into our paragraph?  Turn and tell your partner your idea.  Students share out their responses and teacher charts the final supporting detail sentence on a graphic organizer.

You all did a great job using my research and guiding question to write a supporting paragraph.  To end our paragraph, we need a summary sentence.  Remember this sentence restates our topic and closes up the paragraph.  For my paragraph about Lincoln’s childhood, I might write, “ Lincoln’s childhood was very different and helped shape his later decisions”.  This sentence adds more of my opinion, but still remains on topic about Lincoln’s childhood.  

I know we covered a lot of information today, but I know you are all ready to being the writing process.  We will have a longer workshop time today than usual.  This will allow you time to write all three of your supporting paragraphs.  Take your time and ask your group mates for help if you are unsure of your next steps.  I will be conferencing with many of you during this time.  You may return to your seats. 

Workshop Time (25-30 mins): Students should return to their seats.  Each student will be given three copies of the hamburger paragraph sheet.  They will be expected to write their research question as the topic.  Using their graphic organizers from earlier, they will compose sentences to fill out the hamburger paragraph form.  The goal is for students to complete all three paragraphs during this workshop time.  If students have extra information they wish to include in the paragraph they may add extra details (I find many students do this but some of the details may not fit in the paragraph). 

Exit Slip/ Share (3-5 mins):  Teacher should collect the paragraph worksheets.  It is important that each student receives feedback from this activity.  I try to group students into those who completed correct paragraphs and those who need more support.  I use this grouping to meet with students the following day. 

Reflection: This lesson is time consuming and requires students synthesize many different skills.  However, with the use of graphic organizers and teacher support many students successfully write their three body paragraphs during this workshop time.  I chose to use the hamburger paragraph structure for writing these paragraphs because students are familiar with the format.  However, if students do not need this support they may write their paragraphs on lined paper rather than using a graphic organizer.  I have found that some students have difficulty staying on topic and add interesting details to their paragraphs rather than relevant details.  If this occurs with many students in the classroom, I would suggest including a follow up lesson comparing interesting and supporting details.

Lesson Resources

Hamburger Paragraph Organizer  
Research Organizer  


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