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   Student Writing
    (October 18, 2003)

 


Students in three classes gave these tips and advice for Reviewing the Body Paragraph, an assignment for Advanced Composition and Literature and Composition 4.
 

 

Afternoon Advanced Composition:

1. The examples should be specific. (original; better to say unique or not like others) If so, they will also be interesting.

2. You should have a clear topic in the first sentence and a conclusion in the final sentence.

3. The whole paragraph should be focussed on your topic. All things are more complicated than you can show in 100 words and all things have positive and negative aspects. BUT there is no need to provide perfect balance in a short paragraph.

4. Body paragraphs are part of an essay so should have a clear relationship to the thesis statement AND to each other.

5. These paragraphs have been carefully revised, corrected, and so on before they are complete.

6. It should be written in a formal tone. Sometimes, students use a word like “stuff” which has a bit too informal tone.

7. The paragraph should read “smoothly” (using conjunctions to make sentences longer may help). Coherence is the word teachers use to describe this.

8. It should have an appropriate length, not too short and not too long for its purpose. Also, remember that long paragraphs intimidate readers.

Evening Advanced Composition

1. The most important point is how to choose the main idea. What is it? (stay ON topic and not OFF topic) Make sure the details match the main idea.

2. You should be clear and specific in your information.

3. The overall structure of the paragraph should be smooth. (We could use conjunctions to increase sentence length. Readers get confused if you jump around too far from the stated main idea [topic sentence]

4. Make your sentences and ideas original. This is very difficult to do with actual "how we state" in a sentence, but quite important in "what we state" in a sentence.

5. Should have a concluding sentence BUT it is hard to figure out how to write one. We need to practice this skill.

6. Check your verb tense. (present tense for facts; the "perfect" tenses are really important. I have gone swimming at Canada Games Pool for five years.

7. Give enough examples to understand the main idea. BUT one good example can be enough, especially in a short essay on a fairly common sense topic.

8. One body paragraph should be understood to be related to the two (or more) others in the essay.

9. Transitional phrases or sentences should occur at the beginning of the second, third and further paragraphs. Body one topic is "I really love the physical side of swimming." To begin body paragraph 2, say "Not only is swimming a joy physically, but it is also a wonderful mental exercise." The previous sentence "hooks" to the content found in body 1 and leads the reader naturally to body 2.

Morning Literature and Composition 4

1. A good paragraph must have a definite topic or main idea or clear idea. It is on only one idea. It is like when we have a small house or apartment, we can only fit in so many guests. The paragraph has limited space, so should only have just enough to fill it.

2. Many students feel that they must show another side to any idea to be fair. However, in this culture, it makes you seem undecided or confused.

3. The main idea requires support. This support is given in examples or details. How much is enough? Two or three will be enough OR enough to satisfy the reader about your main idea. It depends on how well known the idea may be to the average reader.

4. Use descriptive words to make good paragraphs. Use quality materials. One of the best ways to improve writing is to learn quality verbs. I walked home sadly. I trudged home. He slept peacefully. He dozed peacefully. Using adjectives and adverbs may help, too. Strong nouns are important, also. BENZ is a good car and the man or woman who drives one shows something to other people.

5. A good paragraph has a topic sentence, details, and a concluding sentence. Beginning, a middle, and an end.

6. Ideas should follow some kind of organization. Chronological order is very common. What happens first, then what happens second, and what happens last. When we compare, we could say something about one thing and then about the other. Then, repeat. OR all about one thing, then all about the other. Another way is by how important or strong an idea is in your opinion. Put your second best idea first, your least best idea second (the middle of the sandwich) and your very best idea last.

7. The way we think is NOT the way we should organize a paragraph. Thinking is very messy, unorganized, and difficult to follow.

8. Should I say “I think. . .” OR “in my opinion” in a paragraph? Usually not, but in special cases (TOEFL) if you are asked directly and the examples suggest it is okay, then go ahead. For example, if you wish to show how your opinion is different from others, you may need to.

9. Closing sentences support the topic, but state it in a different way. Use synonyms or a noun instead of adjective, for example to make it more interesting.

10. Grammar, spelling and other “mechanical” problems at the sentence level should be fixed (as much as possible) before a teacher sees it.

More Student Writing:

A Place to Live
Atala writes a beautiful descriptive paragraph about her grandmother's house. Full of lovely detail using all the senses, it ends with song lyrics from Louis Armstrong.  February 28

Free Tranquilizer
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An Ordinary Day
Far from ordinary, Octavia's paragraph captures the sights and smells and sounds of an outdoor market. Sensuous writing with excellent detail! January 16

The Place I Long For
Jana's rich description makes it easy to imagine the peace she finds at a favourite place.  December 13

The Mosquitoes on Campus
Couch writes an amusing story of meeting the new, much smarter, urban mosquito!  November 28

Nothing Came to My Mind
Tina has written an intriguing narrative paragraph about finding quiet contemplation time in her car on an autumn day. November 9

A Smart Pig
Annie's amusing paragraph contemplates what it would be like to be a pig, but only for one day! 

Hanging Up the Clothes
Short paragraph with lots of detailed description. 

How to Reduce Stress
    Short essay in five paragraph standard style.

Smells of the Sun
  
Short paragraph demonstrating the use of the senses in writing.

Advice to New Students of the PALC
Lucky gives some straightforward and useful advice to new students. 

The PALC for Improving Your English
Ciprian has some good advice on how the PALC can help you with your English skills.

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