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Thread: Writing Help for Level 3

  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Philadelphia, PA
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    9

    Writing Help for Level 3

    My 9 year old is struggling with topic sentences for her paragraphs. She does well with the graphic organizers and once she gets started is able to do a pretty nice paragraph, but we have a hard time getting it started. Does anyone have any suggestions of a game or something fun we could do to work on topic sentences? I really don't want to give her ideas because I want her to come up with it herself. If I give her ideas she just uses what mom said! Thanks so much!

  2. #2
    President, Lampstand Press
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Maryland
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    162
    Hi!

    The topic sentence is an answer to the question, "What is this paragraph about?" A paragraph, we teach, is a collection of sentences that all express (or expand upon or explain) a single idea. A paragraph on various kinds of fruit should not talk about your new puppy. When writing, we are denied the use of intonation, gestures, and other verbal aids. Therefore, we use a convention we call a "topic sentence" to clue the reader in, to orient them, to lead them into the main topic that we're now going to express (expand upon or explain). Fair enough.

    But, to make a sentence that tells the reader what the paragraph will be about is to summarize. And summary skills are challenging for 9 yo's! There are a couple of ways to approach this, and one suggestion is that, since GOs (graphic organizers) are going well, have her look over her GO when completed and say, "Now: hold this at arm's length and tell me, what is it all about?" From whatever she says, help her craft down the sentence into a single idea. So, this is basically backing into the topic sentence from the end to the beginning. There's nothing wrong with this: often we really don't know what our message is until we've drafted it!

    Another idea for her is to simply talk it out. You might say, "Make me a prediction. What do you think this paragraph will be about? OK, write that down as a working TITLE. Then, again, in the editing phase, you can lengthen the title into a topic sentence.

    The summary of what I'm trying to say in this answer is this: She may be having trouble because she's not yet written the paragraph in her head. Once she sees that the topic sentence is really a summary sentence, it might be easier for her.

    HTH!
    Blessings,
    Marcia

    No one can do me a greater kindness in this world than to pray for me.
    --Charles Spurgeon

  3. #3
    Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Philadelphia, PA
    Posts
    9
    Thank you so much, we will give those ideas a try!
    Alison

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