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The 5 Paragraph Essay

While some people argue that the 5 paragraph essay isn't a very sophisticated style of writing (or is too limiting a format) I think that nothing beats it for teaching a student how to construct a basic paper. I've had a lot of success organizing writing in the outline of a 5 paragraph essay, and it's a clear and concise example of how to write an introduction, body, and conclusion without getting overwhelming or complicated.

A useful tool for me is to draw out the content-free outline ahead of time (Intro, Body 1, 2, and 3, Conclusion) and have the student fill it in with their own thoughts and ideas as a semi-organized brainstorming session. Once all the main ideas are plugged into the outline then we can go back and move around sentences, add transitions between paragraphs, and develop a solid conclusion before beginning the first draft. Even just having the 5 paragraphs in front of them, written out in a visible linear way, can help students understand the structure of an essay better. :)