Writing an Introduction
Lesson 2 of 8
Objective: Students will be able to introduce a topic clearly by writing a hook, context, and thesis statement.
In your topic sentence, identify your topic for your paper. In concrete evidence, identify the two or three main ideas that are in your paper. In your commentary, explain the ideas and if it’s a right or responsibility. Wrap it all up with a concluding sentence
Like I said in my reflection from yesterday, seventh graders do have a basic understanding of how an essay is constructed. They know that an essay contains an introduction, body, and conclusion. They know they need a hook and most students know they need a thesis statement. Most students know some strategies for catching the reader's attention. They really just need a reminder.
That's what this lesson is--a reminder of what parts are required for an introduction. It's a reminder that the introduction is like a commercial for your essay. It's the part that catches the reader's attention and tells the reader what the essay is selling in the thesis statement.
There's a bunch of common ways to hook the reader in in the first few sentences. The writer can
share an interesting fact related to the topic
vividly describe part of the topic
ask a thought-provoking question
an interesting fact
compare and contrast two parts of the topic
share an anecdote
use an imperative or exclamatory sentence
We told students that for a history research paper, they should stay away from the last two suggestions. Sharing an anecdote or using an imperative or exclamatory sentence can work for a personal essay, but not for a formal history paper.
None of this was earth shattering to the students. Rather than having students copy these notes, we gave them a printout of the PowerPoint slides. We'll tape them into their notebooks for safekeeping. Even with this time saver, we ran out of time, so the thesis statement formula had to wait until the next day.
To model the writing of the introduction, we looked at the paragraph on the last slide of the 5 Paragraph Essay Introduction and Thesis Statement PowerPoint. This paragraph was taken from the book Language Network, our grammar/writing book. After yesterday's lesson, I certainly don't want to plagiarize!
We analyzed each sentence in the paragraph to see what its purpose was, starting with the hook. How does the author catch your attention? If you watch the Writing an Introduction-An Example video, you'll have the honor of hearing me talk about this.
The author immediately grabs the attention by talking about a flying horse. At this point, at least two students in each class chimed in, "But you told us we couldn't use the pronouns I, we, and you! How come they did?" That allowed us to discuss how the author could have revised the work. Instead of saying, "Have you ever seen a flying horse," the author could have combined the first two sentences to write something like, "Medieval soldiers sometimes came face to face with a flying horse." It still grabs the reader's attention, but without the use of personal pronouns.
Okay, great. We know how the author grabbed the attention. What's the thesis statement? What is this essay going to be about? Flying horses? No. Disease? No. This essay is probably going to be about medieval warfare including simple and unusual strategies. The author is claiming that medieval warfare is simple and used unusual strategies. If this is a standard five paragraph essay, perhaps one paragraph will be about simple strategies and two paragraphs will be about unusual strategies. Or perhaps the author will describe three strategies that are both simple and unusual in the body paragraphs. It would be better if the author specifically mentioned those things in the thesis statement, of course.
So we've found the hook and the thesis statement. What are the rest of these sentences doing? They're maintaining your attention by stating unusual facts (attackers would throw rotting horse corpses to spread disease as well as throwing things such as rocks, branches and flaming arrows. They compared medieval warfare to warfare today. Both of these techniques are things we talked about in how to craft an introduction. You mean you can use more than one strategy? Dude!
Combining these strategies can make for a gripping, compelling introduction. Combined with an effective thesis statement at the end of the introduction, your reader won't be able to pull away. You will have sold them on your essay.
How did you start your essay? What did you write in your first paragraph? How can you change, modify, and revise what you already have to use one of the strategies we learned about?
And guess what we'll be doing tomorrow! Revising our introductions? Oh, yeah.