For this assignment, you will annotate an article. Please read the instructions and follow each step carefully. There are three steps. Turn on Track Changes under the Review tab in Word before you begin. Be sure your Track Changes shows All Markup not just a Simple Markup.

Step 1: Predict and preview

After reading the title and glancing over the text and author’s biography (below), what do you think the text will be about? What do you understand about the text from the title? What do you know already about this topic? What questions do you have about the text? Enter your response to the preview here:

Step 2: Read, summarize, and annotate

As you read the article, use the Track Changes function to annotate the text.

1. Double click the last word of each section, and then click the New Comment button under the Review tab to add a comment box. Type your one sentence summary (paraphrase) of the paragraph in the box. Summarize every paragraph in the essay. Group short paragraphs of the same topic together for summarizing.

1. What words do you not understand? Define them directly in the text next to the word. Only put the definition for the word in its exact context (not all the definitions).

1. Annotate the text. Use the functions in Microsoft Word to highlight sections or words and underline sentences or sections that are important, just like you would if you were annotating a hard copy of the essay. Use the following key to annotate your text:

· Highlight the main ideas of paragraphs, including the thesis

· Underline supporting details or interesting quotes/facts/ideas

Step 3: Vocabulary words

As you read the text, you need to list and words that you do not know here with their definitions. If you know all the words, you need to find and define at least TWO words that you think other students might struggle with. You should have a minimum of TWO words with definitions listed below:

Step 4: Answering questions about the text (after you read it!)

1. Who is the audience? Provide two quotes to support your answer.

2. What is your response to this article? What knowledge or new understanding have you gained after reading it?

Breaking the Five-Paragraph Habit for College Writing

Created by the English Faculty at Richland College for the English Corner

In high school and while preparing for many standardized tests, students are often taught to follow a standard five-paragraph format. In college courses, however, the five-paragraph essay may result in a lower grade. In this handout, we will explain the limits of a five-paragraph essay and provide alternative modes of organizing your college essays.

What is a Five-Paragraph Essay?

In a five-paragraph essay, the introduction begins with a general statement and then builds to a thesis statement at the end of the introduction paragraph. The thesis statement will often list the three main points that the writer intends to develop in the body. The writer will then discuss each point that he has listed in the thesis in an individual body paragraph. Each body paragraph contains a topic sentence that restates a main point. Finally, the conclusion often restates the thesis and summarizes what was written in the body paragraphs. To the right is a visual representation of what a five-paragraph essay often looks like.

Why Can’t I Write A Five-Paragraph Essay?

The five-paragraph essay is a great way to learn how to write an essay; however, collegiate writing requires a much deeper and more critical consideration of a topic than a five-paragraph essay will allow. Professors want their students to explore, analyze, and develop their ideas to the next level of writing with sound arguments and evidence. The five-paragraph essay controls the content; when in truth, it should be the other way around. The structure of a five-paragraph essay limits students’ abilities to expand beyond three examples and a superficial overview. Additionally, the structure of a five-paragraph essay often leads to repetition because you must repeat the main idea in the topic sentences and again in the conclusion, making the conclusion weak and pointless.

How Can I Break the Five-Paragraph Habit?

In college writing, your content should dictate how you structure your essay. When deciding how to organize your essay, you should consider the prompt carefully and organize according to what you have been asked to do in the assignment.

For an argument essay, each body paragraph should be a reason that supports your thesis. For a literary analysis, each body paragraph should be a different aspect of the poem or literature (symbolism, metaphor, character, setting, voice, tone) that proves the thesis. For a visual analysis, each body paragraph should be an aspect of the visual (color, background, foreground, framing, juxtaposition, superimposition) that proves your thesis.

Consider the following example assignment:

You will write a six-to-seven (6-7) page research paper that argues a point and tries to persuade the reader. Your job is to change the reader’s mind about a particular subject and persuade the reader into believing your argument. First, your essay must define important terms and introduce relevant background information. In the body of your essay, in addition to proving your point with credible evidence, you must provide a counterargument followed by a refutation.

Process of Completion:

1. First, determine what the prompt asks you to do. Say you choose fracking in Texas as your topic. For the prompt above, you will need to provide sufficient background information as well as present several reasons that support your stance on the topic. You must also consider an opposing viewpoint(s) and refute it.

2. Brainstorm and create an outline. Your outline might look something like the following:

I. Introduction

a. Hook (attention getter): “According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the Dallas area has suffered almost 40 small earthquakes due to fracking” (qtd. in Lett and Morris).

b. Brief overview of topic: explain controversy surrounding fracking in TX

c. Thesis: Fracking should be limited to unpopulated, rural areas in Texas.

II. Definition of terms

a. What is fracking?

b. Types of fracking

III. Background 1

a. Description of process and controversy

IV. Counterargument/Opposing viewpoint (Financial benefits of fracking)

a. Evidence

b. Explanation of opposing view

V. Refutation/Why the opposing view is wrong (Negatives outweigh benefits)

a. Evidence

b. Explanation

VI. Reason 1 (Damage to the environment)

a. Evidence

b. Explanation

VII. Reason 2 (Reduction in home values)

a. Evidence

b. Explanation

VIII. Counterargument 2 (As an alternative to fossil fuels)

a. Evidence

b. Explanation of opposing view

IX. Refutation (Safer alternatives)

a. Evidence

b. Explanation

X. Strongest reason 3 (Community is against it)

a. Evidence

b. Explanation

XI. Conclusion

a. Why people should care?

b. Call to action

Notice how this outline allows you to fully develop the background information and expand your paper to include multiple perspectives and reasons. It results in a much more sophisticated and critical analysis of the topic.

3. Draft your essay following the outline you created.

4. After completing the rough draft, review the assignment prompt carefully to ensure that your essay meets all requirements outlined by your professor.

Now that you know college writing requires more than a five-paragraph essay, you should note that there are a few times where it can still be helpful. When you are taking a timed essay exam, using the five-paragraph essay structure can focus your thoughts and help you write clearly.

Created by the English faculty at Richland College through the English Corner

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