Highlighting to Make Visual Sense: Paragraph Practice

Highlighting Body Paragraphs

Shared by Isabel Quintana Wulf

With inspiration from/credit to Melissa Lucken, Lansing Community College, MI

The goal of this activity is to devise strategies a student can use to determine whether body paragraphs have all the parts they need to have: topic sentence, evidence/ examples, analysis, and transitions. I provide six examples of body ¶s from former students (or from current student essays chosen randomly depending on what time of the semester you chose to do this activity in class): I give them the overall thesis statement for the essay and one random body ¶. I ask them to highlight the topic sentence with one color, the evidence/ examples with another color, and the analysis with yet another color. I also ask them to circle the transitions they find in the ¶. Once you have given students some time to go over one ¶ (maybe 5 to 7 minutes?) and highlight its parts, do the exercise together using a projector or using the computer in the classroom if that is available to you. Discuss any discrepancies between different interpretations students might have and use the opportunity to show what constitutes evidence and what constitutes analysis. Repeat two or three times more as a class before asking them to highlight their own body ¶s or those of their peers. I use this strategy periodically in class and the visual effect seems to help students understand what is missing from the ¶s (usually a huge color gap for whatever the color of analysis was!). Repeat the activity every once in a while in class as a group to cement their understanding of what they are doing.


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