Middle school writers tackle five paragraph personal, persuasive and narrative essays. Within these assignments, the introductory paragraph sets the tone for the entire essay. This is a very focused paragraph that must lure the reader in and explain what the entire paper will cover. Responsibilities include giving background information, establishing author credibility and enticing the reader to continue reading. The introductory paragraph ends with a thesis sentence, the central core or main purpose of the essay.
Middle schoolers are often expected to write a five paragraph essay, with an introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs and a conclusion paragraph to explain a concept or answer a prompt. Middle school sample topics might include why a student wants to go to a particular high school or explaining a certain scientist's contributions to their field. Writers can establish their credibility by linking their own writing with the ideas of someone who is well-known or an expert in the topic they are discussing, through the use of research.
A personal anecdote can create a close connection between audience and author, and ease the reader into the topic. For instance, when writing an essay for language arts about an influential person, a student could begin the introduction paragraph with a personal anecdote about her grandmother baking cookies with her or serving special desserts would help paint the picture for the reader. Personal narratives favor sensory details, whether a student is writing about his grandmother, his winning soccer goal or a favorite teacher or class.
Middle schoolers may write persuasive essays, for example on the topic of avoiding dangerous substances for health class. The introduction for a persuasive essay could include a startling fact or statistic about smoking or drinking or huffing, for instance. This is known as a persuasive appeal to reason. A brief personal story outlining the difficulty someone in in the writer's life faced; this is known as an appeal to emotion. These appeals engage the reader and are clear persuasive tools to use in the introductory paragraph.
Informational essays are required in content area subjects such as social studies and science. Writing the introduction to an informational essay about supply and demand could include some interesting facts or statistics. Students explaining the early Native American life could use a fact about what was exchanged with the settlers or use a statistic to show how settlers bartered for goods. Explaining background information helps the reader see what is at stake in your essay.
- Teachers College Reading and Writing Project: Content Area Literacy
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Persuasive Writing -- A Classroom Model
- Internet 4 Classrooms: Language Arts Middle/High
- Ohio Department of Education: Ohio's New Learning Standards -- K-12 Social Studies
- PBS Teachers: Johnny Cash -- The Man, His World, His Music Lesson Plan
- Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images