Literary Genres, Elements, 1 and Techniques

AIM Higher! English Skills for Assessment

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186 AIM Higher! English Skills for Assessment

Graphic Organizer for Planning Essays














Lesson 7.2—The Structure of an Essay 187

Writing the Introduction
There are many ways to introduce an essay. Whichever way you choose, however, you need to make sure that your introduction includes your thesis statement, which is the main idea that the rest of the essay will elaborate upon, or support. Imagine that you are going to write an essay about the benefits of taking part in a drama club production. Here are some possible ways to introduce the essay:
1. Begin with a quotation or proverb.
My grandmother used to say, “Many hands make light work.” I learned the truth of this statement by taking part in a play given by my school’s Prama Club. Few activities are as complicated as producing a play; however, when everyone pulls together and does his or her job—the director, the actors, the stage manager, the costumers, the makeup artists, the technical crew, and the house crew—the difficult job of mounting a production becomes, if not easy, at least doable. Learning the value of teamwork is just one of many valuable lessons that can be gained from taking part in a theatrical production.
2. Begin with an anecdote, or very brief story.
A few weeks ago, I had to give a speech in my English class. Most of my classmates were scared to death about getting up in front of the rest of the students to speak. I was not afraid, however, because I had learned how to overcome stage fright by taking part in a production given by the Prarna Club. This is only one of the many benefits of taking part in a school play.

3. Begin with a startling or interesting fact.
In one nineteenth-century production of Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth, a sword flew out of the hands of one of the characters and stuck into one of the seats in the audience. While nothing this dramatic happens to most students who take part in a school play, nearly everyone who has done so comes away from the experience with lots of lessons learned and lots of stories to tell.
4. Begin with an analogy to something else. (An analogy is a comparison presented to make a point.)
Coaches often make the claim that participating in sports builds character and teaches the value of teamwork. If you really want to build character, however, I would recommend joining the Prania Club. There you can build character in more ways than one, and you can also learn how a team—what theater people call an ensemble—can pull together to create something magical. Suilcling character, learning about teamwork, and just having a great deal of fun are three benefits of Prania Club membership.
5. Begin by posing a question.
How often does a high-school student get a chance to demonstrate bravery? As everyone knows, high-school students are obsessed with how they look in front of their peers. For that reason, it takes a lot of courage to stand in front of one’s classmates as an actor in a play. I7roving that one is capable of overcoming the fear of looking foolish is one of many positive results of taking part in a school play.






188 AIM Higher! English Skills for Assessment

Writing the Body Paragraphs

Each of the body paragraphs in your essay should present a single main idea that supports the thesis statement. The sentence in the paragraph that states this main idea is called the topic sentence. The rest of the sentences in a body paragraph present details to support the topic sentence. Here is an example of a rough outline for a body paragraph that supports the thesis statement “Taking part in a school play has many benefits”:

Senefit 1: Teaches responsibility
—Must learn lines and movements on time because director and other actors

depend on this

—Must not miss rehearsals or show up late
—Must remember to bring materials to rehearsals, such as script, directors’ notes, and rehearsal schedule
When writing body paragraphs, make sure to use transitions like those shown on page 160 to show how your ideas are connected. You may use transitions both at the beginnings of paragraphs and within them. Notice how transitions are used in the following paragraph to connect the ideas:
One important lesson that acting in a play teaches is responsibility. For example, an actor must learn his or her lines and movements on time because the director and the other actors depend on this. in addition, out of courtesy to others working on the production, an actor must not miss

rehearsals or show up late. Furthermore, an actor has to remember to bring

important materials to rehearsals, such as his or her script, notes given by the

director during the previous rehearsal, and his or her copy of the rehearsal schedule.

An actor soon learns that responsibility means not letting others down.
Writing the Conclusion

Suppose that you were watching a movie on television, one that you really loved, and that ten minutes before the end of it, the power in your home went out. In essays, as in movies, giving the reader a good experience depends a great deal on bringing the work to a satisfactory close.

Usually, the conclusion will be a single paragraph. Often, its beginning will be signaled by a transition such as “In conclusion,” “In summary,” or “As the preceding paragraphs show.”

One way to develop a conclusion is to restate your thesis in different words and then summarize the supporting ideas presented in the essay. For instance, suppose that your thesis statement is this:

Few experiences in life teach one as

much as one learns from participating in a school play.

If this is your thesis statement, you might begin your conclusion by restating your thesis as a question, like this:
What are the positive consec~uences of

taking part in a school play? As this essay has shown,...

The chart on the following page presents additional ideas for writing conclusions.









Lesson 7.2—The Structure of an Essay 189

he Structure of

a Five-Paragraph Essay

The Parts of the Essay and Suggestions for Writing

What They Should Include Each Section of the Essay


—Introductory material to grab the reader’s attention

—Thesis statement

—Main supporting idea (topic sentence)

—Details related to main supporting idea

Note: A five-paragraph essay should contain three body paragraphs


—Any material that will wrap up the

essay and give your reader a satisfying sense of closure

Follow one of these strategies:

—Begin with a quotation or proverb

—Begin with an anecdote

—Begin with a startling or interesting


—Begin by posing a question

Note: Make sure that your introduction states the main idea, or thesis, of the essay.

Do the following for each paragraph:

—Use transitions at the beginning of and within the paragraph

—Somewhere in the paragraph, include a topic sentence that states a single main idea related to the thesis of the essay

Follow one or more of these strategies:
—Restate your thesis in other words or as a question

—Summarize the main ideas from your body paragraphs

—Draw a conclusion based upon the information that you have presented in the rest of the essay

—Relate your topic to your reader, telling why it is important to his or her life

—Suggest that your reader take some action related to the topic






190 AIM Higher! English Skills for Assessment

Yout 1~urA

A Study the sample essay presented on page 186. Then answer the following questions about it.
1 What is the subject of the essay?
2 What is the main idea of the essay? Where is this main idea stated?
3 What method has the writer used to grab the reader’s attention in the introduction?

C Choose a topic related to one of your classes in school. Your topic can be related to science, social studies, English, mathematics, foreign language, art, health, physical education, or any other class that you are taking or have taken. Do some thinking about your topic, and consult informative sources about the topic, such as your textbooks and class notes. Then, write a thesis statement and a rough outline for a five-paragraph expository essay on the topic.

4 What would be a good topic sentence for the first body


5 What would be a good topic sentence for the second body paragraph?
6 What would be a good topic sentence for the third body


7 What method does the writer use to conclude her essay?
B Study the sample body paragraph given on page 189. Then answer the following questions about it.
1 What is the topic sentence of the paragraph?
2 What are four transitions used in the paragraph?
3 What details are presented to support the topic sentence?
4 What is the clincher sentence of the paragraph?



topic sentence








Lesson 7.2—The Structure of an Essay 191

D Write two possible introductions for the five-paragraph essay that you outlined in Exercise C. Use two of the methods for writing introductions described in this lesson. Make sure that both of your introductions include a thesis statement.
E Do additional research on your topic, if necessary. Choose the best of your introductory paragraphs from Exercise C to begin your essay. Then write the body paragraphs and conclusion for your essay.

F Once you have completed your rough draft, exchange papers with another student in your class. Check your classmate’s paper to make sure that it:
• Has an introduction that grabs the reader’s attention and states the thesis
• Contains three body paragraphs, each of which presents a main idea in support of the thesis statement
• Has a conclusion that wraps up the ideas presented in the essay
• Uses transitions throughout to connect ideas
• Presents ideas in a logical order
Write a list of suggestions for improving the essay, and give these to your classmate. When you receive your classmate’s suggestions for your own essay, review the essay to make sure that it meets the criteria described above. Then, revise the essay and make a list of the sources of information that you used. Attach this list on a separate page at the end of the essay.
G After you have revised your essay, proofread it for errors in spelling, grammar, usage, capitalization, and punctuation. Then make a clean final copy and proofread the essay again. Share your completed essay with your teacher and with other students in your class.




192 AIM Higher! English Skills for Assessment

t~SSO?~1 Creating Your Essay,

7.3 Step by Step






n the previous lesson, you learned about the structure of an essay. In Lesson 7.1,

you learned how the writing process

must be modified for writing tests that do not allow time for creating multiple drafts. In this lesson, you will follow one student as she creates an essay for a timed writing test.

The Prompt

Background for writing:

You and five other high-school students have been shipwrecked on a deserted island with no supplies except for a notebook and some pens from a backpack that has washed ashore with you.
Directions for writing:
Think about what you must do to survive. Then, write an essay-length journal entry telling what steps you need to take to ensure your survival.


Chantal read the prompt carefully. She recognized that this was an expository prompt and that her thesis statement would be about surviving on the deserted island. She did some quick brainstorming on scrap paper, creating a word web to generate ideas:

Lesson 7.3—CreatingYour Essay, Step by Step 193

Based upon her word web, Chantal came —Eat only fresh food

up with three major ideas to use in each of —Avoid possibility of falling or otherwise

the body paragraphs of her essay. Then, she hurting ourselves

wrote her thesis statement on her scrap

paper ~ocly 91 3

Thesis If we are to survive, we must locate Topic Sentence Also important, finding or

food and water, find or build shelter, and building shelter

avoid potential dangers —Caves2

—Debris from shipwreck washed ashore Next, Chantal wrote a rough outline of Uk 2

her essay, again on her scrap paper. This is

1. —~uild using sticks, branches, leaves?

ner rougn outline:

Introduction Conclusion

—Grab reader’s attention w/ startling —Do these things + survive for some time

statement: Something about possibility —~‘ut need to think about signaling

that we could die? passing ships or planes or getting off

—Thesis: If we are to survive, we must island

locate food and water, avoid i~otential

I Notice that Chantal planned her essay

dangers, and find or build shelters.

very carefully on scrap paper before she

~ocly 91 1 began writing. Her plan includes an

introduction that grabs the reader’s

Topic Sentence: Food and water most attention and states the thesis; three body

important paragraphs, each of which presents a single

—Could perish in a few clays without food related topic and supporting details; and a

and water conclusion that summarizes her ideas and

—Look for water (spring? watering hole?) plans some further action.

or dig for it Chantal wrote a quick, rough outline

because there was no time to make a

—Look for food sources (on beach? in

complete, formal outline of the kind that


she might have made for a homework

—Identify game animals assignment.

F’re pare hunting implements



• . After completing her rough outline,

Topic Sentence: Next most important is

Chantal was able to draft her essay from

avoiding potential dangers

beginning to end, using information from

—No medical supplies so safety first the outline Of course, during the drafting

—Identify any wild animals process, she incorporated new ideas that

occurred to her

194 AIM Higher! English Skills for Assessment






words to make them more precise. She added some concrete details, and she drew a circle around a sentence that seemed out of place and an arrow showing the place to which the sentence should be moved.

Next, she proofread her completed essay carefully, looking for and correcting any errors that she found. She checked her manuscript form, making sure that all the paragraphs were indented. She read through the work to make sure that each sentence had a verb, that the verb agreed with its subject, that she had included no run-on sentences or sentence fragments, and that all words were spelled correctly. She also checked her capitalization, making sure that she had capitalized the proper nouns that she had used, and she checked her punctuation throughout, being particularly careful to make sure that every sentence began with a capital letter and ended in an end mark.

Chantal made a quick draft, being careful, as she proceeded, to indent her paragraphs, write neatly, use transitions, vary the length and structure of her sentences, and incorporate details from her outline. If she started to write a sentence containing a word that she didn’t know how to spell correctly, she rephrased the sentence, choosing other words that she did know how to spell.
Evaluating, Revising, and Proofreading

Chantal knew that she wanted her essay to be as good as it could be. Therefore, when she finished the draft, she looked it over carefully. First, she made a revision pass, checking her content, focus, organization, and expression. She drew a line through one sentence that she decided was irrelevant. She changed a couple of

Lesson 7.3—CreatingYour Essay, Step by Step 195

Y~r Thrn

A Imagine that you are Chantal, the student whose writing process was described in this lesson. Write a five-paragraph theme on two pieces of paper, based on Chantal’s rough outline. Feel free to add, delete, or change details as you write.
B Choose one of the prompts given in the chart on page 181 and create an essay in response to it, Allow yourself an hour to plan and write your essay. Make sure that your plan for the essay includes a rough outline or a graphic organizer that details the information that you want to include in each part of the essay.
C Repeat Exercise B, but with a different prompt. This time choose a

prompt of a different type. For example, if you chose an expository prompt last time, choose a persuasive or a narrative prompt this time.

D Reflect on your writing process for Exercises B and C. Then, answer the following questions:
1 Which was the easier assignment for you? Why?
2 What do you think are the major strengths of each of your essays?
3 What are the major weaknesses of your essays?
4 What skills do you think you need to work on more before you take the actual exam?





196 AIM Higher! English Skills for Assessment

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