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I confess that I am guilty of perpetuating the 5-6-7 sentence myth, mostly because that's what I learned myself though I do know that dialogue and such can be a paragraph unto itself. I think I do it because writing is so Regents-oriented at my school and ultimately, kids learn to get the 5 paragraph essay down pat. Survival tactic, sad but true. After reading your post though, I am going to be more conscientious of this.

Tim Fredrick

Don't even get me started on the 5 paragraph essay!! :)

In reality, the Regents rubric mentions nothing about how many paragraphs the essays should be or how many sentences should be in each paragraph. I would even argue that the 5 paragraph format doesn't logically make sense with what some of the tasks are.

Perhaps an alternative would be to look at the test with the kids and for each essay ask them what they would have to do for the essay and how many paragraphs they think they would need. You could do this as a class standard, or allow students to have their own individual standard. Suzie likes to do her controlling idea essay in 4 paragraphs; Chad does it in 6. In this way, they are still preparing for the test, but they are learning valuable writing skills they will need in The World Beyond The Test.

Susan Cunningham

Thanks! Have to teach paragraphing to a group of Primary 7 pupils (11years old)who are really struggling with writing in general - this is totally what I've been looking for. Will let you know how we get on.


I love this idea. I'm a new teacher teaching seventh grade English, and I've noticed that many of my students' stories have no paragraphs whatsoever. Having little experience with seventh graders, I was a bit surprised and stumped by this dilemna. This gives them something to get out of their desks to do, which they love and is more fun for me!

Jennifer Bortolin

Thankyou for sharing your teaching strategy with all of us. I have to do a series of lessons on this and I was thinking along similar lines - showing the children two pieces of text -one with paragraphs and one without and so on.
What age children was your lesson focused at? I am teaching Gr.3's - 8 year olds. I think this type of lesson would also work well with them. I liked the idea of the children getting a text and cutting it up. The children would much prefer that to re-writing.

Marie Simone

Thankyou for your tips. I am doing an english assignment for uni and needed some ideas for teaching children about paragraphing.
A well though out lesson, i love it and am going to use it on placement.

L. P.

These are great ideas for teaching paragraphing. I'm glad you are out there busting the sentence myth!
Thanks a bunch!


Great! I love it. I'll try this technique with my writing class. Thanks a lot.


Thank you! I am a homeschooling mom. I have been struggling with teaching my 3rd grader on putting together a paragraph--WITHOUT telling her that she MUST have 5-6 sentences. It never made any sense that they told my oldest daughter that in public school. It has created such a struggle for her that I wanted to avoid it totally with my 9 year old.

I really loved this technique and I will be adapting it for our one room school house! :)

olive mallari

thank you for your wonderful strategy of teaching paragrphs....luv it!


I was looking for a different lesson to teach my kids to use paragraphs only to find that you did something very similar to what I did last year! I guess it's a good lesson if someone wrote about it online. :) You have helped me re-energize my lesson!

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