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Give Your Students a Lesson on Writing Great Introductions

written by: Kellie Hayden • edited by: Wendy Finn • updated: 1/20/2012

Tired of reading boring essays? Students can improve by learning how to engage the reader and by learning how to write a good thesis statement. Teach students what good introductions look like and strategies to write good ones.

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    Improving Introductions

    If the introduction is boring, then the reader in the real world will stop reading.Unfortunately, teachers have to plow through the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to essays. The essay must receive a grade. Teach students how to receive high marks.

    What Not To Do in an Introduction

    Tell students not to begin an essay or paper in this manner:

    • My paper is about....
    • In this essay, I am going to discuss...
    • This paper will cover...
    • I am going to write about...
    • This paper will discuss...

    What to Do in an Introduction

    Before beginning the essay, have students work only on the introduction. Encourage them to start with one of the following ideas:

    • Find an impressive or intriguing quote from a famous person about the topic
    • Ask a though-provoking question
    • List main points to be covered
    • Provide an interesting statement about the topic
    • Give fascinating facts about the topic

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    The Thesis Statement

    The rest of the introduction should "introduce" the topic and include a thesis statement. The thesis statement is one sentence that tells what the topic is about. For example, if somebody asked the writer what the paper was about, the student's answer could be the thesis statement. However, the thesis statement should be concise, clear and a complete sentence.

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    Sharing Introductions and Making Improvements

    Step 1 -- After students have written their introductions, organize students into groups of six.

    Step 2 -- Make copies of the introductions so that they are in packets of six. Depending of the size of the class, make enough copies so that each group of six will have another group's introductions. Take the names off of the papers.

    Step 3 -- In the small groups, students will read each introduction in the packet and discuss what the writer did well and what needs work. One person needs to volunteer to be the "secretary" so that the feedback can be written on the paper.

    Step 4 -- Give the paper with the feedback to the writer and ask the writer to make changes to improve the paper.

    Hopefully, the introductions will improve.


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