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TITLE: Paragraph Unity AUTHOR: Reba Flanders, Okemah Middle School GRADE LEVEL: Appropriate for grades 7-9 OVERVIEW: Middle school students often have difficulty expressing their ideas in writing. Their ideas tend to jump from one subject to another without regard to the importance of paragraph unity for writing clarity. This activity provides the students with the opportunity to visualize how each sentence must relate to and help develop the main idea which is usually found in the topic sentence. OBJECTIVE(s): Students will be able to: 1. Write a paragraph demonstrating good unity. 2. Explain what paragraph unity is. 3. Identify sentences that do not relate to the topic. ACTIVITIES AND PROCEDURES: 1. Using a large pleated fan (a fireplace-cover fan works wonderfully), the teacher discusses paragraph unity with the students. The fan represents the completed paragraph. The base of the fan represents the topic sentence. Each pleat represents a developing sentence which is tied to the topic (base). Make sure the students SEE that each sentence must relate. This can be done by adding an unattached pleat. If it is not related (attached), it falls out of the fan and is not needed. 2. Using a piece of 8 X 10 paper, have the students fold the paper into a specified number of pleats (use whatever number of sentences you want for paragraph development). Approximately 1/3 of the way from the bottom of the fan, have students tape their fan together. 3. Draw a picture of the base and the pleats of the fan on the board or overhead. NOTE: Putting the base at the top will help students since at this stage of their writing development they usually put the topic sentence first. 4. Write a class paragraph using the mock-up. Put the topic sentence on the base (the bottom 1/3). Write a developing sentence on each of the pleats making sure that each ties in with the topic (main idea). 5. Have the students write their own paragraph on their fans. 6. Let students work in groups of 2 or 3 to check for sentences that do not belong, before sharing their paragraphs with the class. EXTENSION: This idea can also be used for paragraph development by using the fan idea and reducing or adding pleats (sentences).