Strip the paragraphs with a strong topic and concluding sentence (Day 1 of 2)

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SWBAT write a topic and concluding sentence to support a expository paragraph.

Big Idea

Start and finish the paragraph with great sentences!


  • Informational text at the 2nd grade level – I used Houghton Mifflin SS Unit 5 -   You could use text from any topic, just make sure the kids are familiar with the topic**
  • Sentence strips – 2 for each group and 4 for the teacher
  • Lesson vocabulary words from the Reading/Writing word wall: main idea, key details, topic sentence, concluding sentence, informational text
  • Here's the whiteboard set up  I wrote 2 paragraphs about our topic from the text, but took off the topic and concluding sentence.
  • Informational books from your room with a variety of common topic sentences -  Find some with a variety and mark the pagesSee the common topic sentence starters in Teacher's Turn
  • A chart paper to create the 'Key Words' chart
  • One chart paper for each group with an informational text paragraph (no topic or concluding sentence) - I used ideas from our topic and again left off an introductory and concluding paragraph


** I chose to use the history text because I want the student to get a cross-curriculum experience. Instead of reading a an informational text unrelated to the Social Studies/Science topic, I choose to read about what we are currently learning. The Common Core standards represent a shift in writing about informational topics, including introducing a topic, using facts to develop points, and providing a concluding sentence  (W.2.2)  This lesson is an important step towards supporting students in understanding how to write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately.  Second grade students can usually write a paragraph with details, but often struggle with a succinct related introductory and concluding paragraph.

When writing about an informational topic that you are studying, make sure the students are really FAMILIAR with the topic. When they are learning new writing skills, they need to be secure with the information they are writing about.

Let's Get Excited!

5 minutes

Underlined words below are lesson vocabulary words that are emphasized and written on sentence strips for my Reading & Writing word wall. I pull off the words off the wall for each lesson, helping students understand this key 'reading and writing' vocabulary can be generalized across texts and topics.  The focus on acquiring and using these words is part of a shift in the Common Core Standards towards building students’ academic vocabulary.  My words are color coded ‘pink’ for literature/’blue’ for reading strategies/’orange’ for informational text/'yellow' for writing/’green’ for all other words)


Common starting point

  • "Today we’ll do some research and writing about early America. Let’s look at our Social Studies book or other text with the topic you're writing about – what have we been reading about?"
  • "You know A LOT about the Pilgrims and Native Americans. We've talked about Jamestown and Plymouth as well as the King of England."
  • "Today we're going to write an introductory sentence and concluding sentence to show the main idea** in a paragraph about those topics."


Get students engaged

  • Show the video about main idea 
  • Show it again and pause when they highlight each part of the paragraph - it's a great visual for the kids!


**I've written several lessons about finding the main idea in a paragraph so my students are VERY comfortable with this. Check out these lessons - they are Frame the Story with Informational Text and A Feast of Summaries.

Teacher's Turn

20 minutes

Give the purpose of the lesson

  • "You’ve learned how to choose the main idea of a paragraph or story by finding repeated key details."
  • "Today we'll find some key words and make a sentence with the main idea. Those sentences will be the introductory sentence and concluding sentence that we add to a paragraph."


Find the key words

  • Read the paragraph on the board (without the topic and concluding sentences)- "Does it sound right? - No - I don't know what it's about because it is not introduced and it has no end."
  • "A good paragraph has a topic sentence that introduces the main idea and a good concluding sentence that wraps it up. These sentences have the main idea with some 'key' words."


We need to teach students to understand that topic/concluding sentences usually have those keywords, but also teach them the underlying reason that these sentences contain words like that. We don’t want students to rely on these words alone because they won’t truly understand the purpose of the topic/concluding sentence and they won’t be able to identify these sentences if they don’t contain those words.

  • "Let's make a list of some words that topic sentence and concluding sentences have in our books."  Pass out the informational texts and have students look for words used in topic and concluding sentences from books in your room.  Here's a picture of some of my students looking for topic sentence words.
  • "What words introduce or conclude the topics in these books?"  Make a list.  Here's the Topic & Concluding Sentence chart that we created.  We'll be using this in future lessons.  I did suggest a few words that weren't in any books.


Guided practice with the  strategy

  • "Let's take a look at our first paragraph - it's about something we've studied" - read it
  • "What's the main idea?"  Here's an example of how we find repeating words and discriminate important repeating words to find the main idea.
  • "Use the repeating words to pick the main idea and write them on the line above the arrow. Let's make a topic sentence using a word from our 'key words list'  and the main idea."  Write it on the sentence strip and magnet above the paragraph. Here's the teachers' example of paragraph 1
  • "The concluding sentence restates the topic sentence - can we use a different word from the list?" Write it on the sentence strip and magnet below the paragraph.
  • "Let's try that again with the other paragraph." See the teacher example of paragraph 2.

Students Take a Turn

20 minutes

Set up groups

  • Assign paragraphs to the students or groups
  • If you are working in groups, go over rules for group work  Here's the group rules poster that my class created at the beginning of the year.


Assign task


Students Demonstrate the strategy

Share What You've Learned

15 minutes

Share what you know

  • Groups share their paragraph  This is a video of one of my student explaining the project to me.
  • Here are 2 examples of my kids' projects - student project 1 and student project 2.
  • Give feedback - that's a great introductory sentence - now I know what you're writing about!  Wow that concluding sentence is very clear - it really wraps up the paragraph.


Scaffolding and Special Education: This lesson could be easily scaffolded up or down, depending on student ability.

Group work will allow the challenged and above level students on a more even playing field. As students work in groups, they share ideas. Regardless of the level of academic ability, everyone has something to contribute. If your students are good at group work (with teacher prompting and lots of practice) all will benefit from discussion and collaboration. If groups are not a possibility, then walk around and help students individually, like I did in this video when I was helping a language delayed student.

 The reason I love doing this sharing is that we are reviewing our Social Studies while doing reading - Great activity and review!!