DIY 5 Paragraph Essay Templates: A Creative, Metacognitive Tool

Although there is a common formula to writing a five paragraph
essay, students soon learn that each teacher has their own unique
preferences.  I can remember a
teacher that didn’t allow students to use the transition, “on the other hand,”
unless they had already used, “on the one hand.”  Some insist on transitional sentences, others do not.  Some want a student’s thesis statement
in the middle of the introduction, while others want it at the beginning or
even at the end.  As a result,
students have to adjust their writing to accommodate each new teacher.  How can this be done?
Help Your Students by
Reviewing Your Expectations: 
At the beginning of the school year it is important for each
teacher to share his or her expectations, preferences and requirements so that each
student can prepare for success from the very beginning.   
Provide a lesson and a handout that reviews the
5 paragraph essay.  Make sure to
discuss everything you want in your introduction, body paragraphs, and
Review and define important terms such as:
thesis statement
topic sentence
transitional words
transitional sentences
supporting details
quotes and examples
catchy opening
Introduce the idea that you will be asking the
students to make their own, creative, 5 paragraph essay template.  You can even turn it into a contest and
let the students vote on their favorite.
Help Your Students Create
Their Own Essay Template:
One of the best ways to help your budding writers is to ask
them to create their very own essay template.  This can be a fun assignment, and I have found that if my
students are apart of the creative process, they will most likely “get it” and
“use it.” 
Steps to Creating a
Clever and Creative Essay Template:
This activity can be done collaboratively with your students,
in small groups, or it can be given as a class or homework project so each
student can exercise their own ideas: 
        1.     Ask your students to come up with a fun and creative name for their templates.  Thinking up a catchy
title always helps to integrate the fun factor.
Encourage your students to bring color and images
into the project.
Explain to your students that they can choose their own
format.  Then make some suggestions and let the students brainstorm in small groups or
independently.  Some possible ideas
to get you started are:
Create a PowerPoint or Prezi presentation
Create a web, flow chart or diagram
Create an outline.
Write a poem, song or rap.
What are the Benefits
of Creating an Essay Template:
Develops metacognitive skills.
Permits students to be creative.
Helps to uncover misconceptions.  Always be sure to look closely at each
template to assure that each student integrates all the needed components.
Offers a tool or strategy that the students can
use through the school year.
Teaches an approach that students can use with
each new teacher that they encounter in the future.  Your students can always share their template and then make
any needed alterations.
I hope you found this idea helpful.  I would love to hear your thoughts.
Cheers, Erica

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