Last time, in Teaching Teens to Write, we talked about playing with words, talking, reading examples of the writing they will do, and crafting an excellent sentence. Today, we will move on to paragraphs and reports. As we move forward, don't forget to keep talking to your teens about the subjects you expect them to write about, to prepare them to write.
An excellent paragraph is filled with excellent sentences, so remind your teens to check each sentence in a paragraph to make sure that it is well-crafted. A paragraph is a collection of sentences that flow together about the same subject. The topic sentence tells you what the paragraph is about, often the first sentence in the paragraph.
Talk next about flowing from sentence to sentence inside a paragraph. It is easiest to start paragraphs at the beginning with a topic sentence. Make a list of five topic sentences. Now, have your teen turn each topic sentence into a paragraph, using the topic sentences as a guide for the other sentences that will follow in the paragraph. If your teen feels lost, then work together on this. Do this every day until your teen can turn a topic sentence into a paragraph on his own. Make sure that each paragraph is made up of complete sentences--no fragments or run-ons! Don't forget that your teen should always be writing for an audience. Always make her choose an audience for every writing project, even paragraphs.
The final step of teaching paragraphs is to pull out all the paragraphs that your teen has written from the topic sentences and craft them. Pull out a thesaurus and substitute words that are more concrete. Delete any repetitious sentences. Adjust the order of the sentences if necessary so that the sentences flow together naturally and the paragraph has a feeling of beginning and ending. Read the paragraph aloud and make sure that it is clear, concise, understandable, and gracious. Make any adjustments that are needed.
Merey (Meredith Ludwig Curtis)