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Advanced Composition
Turning Topics into Threes

April 2 and 3, 2003

Often, when we write an essay test, we need to take a topic and make it work in a three paragraph standard structure. Tonight, I’ve selected a typical topic (from Regents’ Testing Program) to work on together.

A Typical Essay Topic

How has the automobile been harmful to our society? Explain.

Dividing in Threes

Using heuristics (who, what, when, where, why) The answers to the classic journalist questions can help us to understand our topic.

Example questions: Where is the harm caused? Why do we harm ourselves with automobiles? When is the harm caused? What causes the harm?

Using brainstorming.

We will “brainstorm” for a few minutes to look for more ideas.

Finally, we will look for three good paragraph ideas from our work above and, if we have time, write a full body paragraph example.

How can we choose the best ideas? How can we be sure we have enough to say for each body paragraph? The answers to these questions will be discussed in class.

See Teacher Writing Sample and Student Notes for this topic.

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