Question Detail

Should teachers be moving away from the "5 paragraph essay" if they are shifting towards Common Core?

Sep 30, 2013 11:33am

  • English Language Arts / Social Studies
  • 6-12
  • Common Core


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    • Oct 3, 2013 8:10am

      It all depends on what you consider the 5 paragraph essay to be. It all starts how one defines it. I remember just last week, when we had our in-class writing assignment, I always write with the students and show them what i write and compare that to their writing and we have a great discussion about why I wrote what I did and what they wrote what they did. The essay I wrote had 5 paragraphs and I had it published in a newspaper here in Korea. Just because it is 5 paragraphs does not mean it should somehow be avoided. I am not sure why 5 paragraphs or 4 or 6 for that matter have a bearing on the Common Core when one looks at the Core rubrics and sees what has been established for students. Even after reading the book, Beyond the 5 Paragraph Essay, I still teach writing the way I have been doing it. With no more emphasis on the number of paragraphs before or after the CCSS.

      • Oct 10, 2013 7:26am

        I see no reason either to favor or disfavor a 5-paragraph essay based on Common Core Standards. Guidelines for text structure in writing remain as they always have: use a structure for writing that does the job. So, if I am writing a comparison and contrast essay using a point-by-point structure examining three aspects for comparison, there is a good chance I'll end up with five paragraphs: introduction, three points of comparison, and a conclusion. I've never been a fan of the five-paragraph essay; on the other hand, five paragraphs are sometimes a natural result. In providing an argument or comparison, one reason is never enough to prove a point or establish significant analysis; though two points give more validity to one's position, three aspects clearly delineated, described, supported, and explained offer a strong foundation. Whether or not that takes one paragraph or fifteen paragraphs becomes a judgment by the author in relation to context and audience. Two resources to guide your thinking about possibilities for writing context and text length are the Common Core writing samples found in Appendix C and the newest samples found on the Achieve website--In Common: Effective Writing for Students: