Updated: Feb 10
By: Aila McPhail
Makeshift Homeschool uses a five paragraph framework to help kids learn to write and share their passions. In this article we use this framework to explain why it works so effectively. We start by explaining what it is. We then explain why we use it. Finally we share how you can practice this framework using the Makeshift Homeschool App.
The five paragraph framework requires, not surprisingly, all lessons to have five paragraphs. Each has a label: introduction, body, body, body, and conclusion. The introduction provides a preview of the lesson along with each of the points to be discussed in each body paragraph. Each body paragraph then elaborates on each of these points. At the end of each lesson, students are prompted to answer questions about each of the body paragraphs so make sure your body has the answer to each question. Finally, the conclusion wraps up the lesson by summarizing the main take-aways. Good conclusions mention the take-away from each body paragraph so that by the time you are done reading you have read each point three times.
The five paragraph framework is really important to Makeshift Homeschool because it is fundamental to communication. Children are often taught the five paragraph framework in school because of its elegance in communicating just about anything. Three times is a magical number for memorization. Commercials often use the same formula when trying to communicate the message of their product. We use the same thing, but in an effort to teach kids valuable things like how to write better. Another reason for keeping lessons to five paragraphs is that kids (and adults) often don’t have the patience to read through a ten page paper. Keeping the lesson to five paragraph makes the author focus on what is most important. Finally, while five paragraphs may seem constraining it actually isn't. We have many "Classes" on Makeshift Homeschool which are simply sets of lessons. For more complex and in-depth subjects we still keep to five paragraphs, but we have multiple lessons.
Your kids can practice the five paragraph framework using the Makeshift Homeschool App. To do this your child should start by completing five existing lessons. These are available on the "Learn" page by selecting the "Learn" button from the Homepage. By completing these lessons your kids will start to see the pattern: Introduction, body, body, body, conclusion. After completing five lessons they will have access to the "Teach" page which they can access by pressing the "Teach" button from the Homepage. We provide a short tutorial on the framework before they enter the writing platform. From there they will see their lesson already structured into the five paragraph framework, with each paragraph labeled. They will then be prompted to create questions corresponding to each of the body paragraphs.
Thank you for reading about the five paragraph framework. In this lesson we explained what this framework is, why we use it, and how to practice on our App, Makeshift Homeschool. We have found that kids love using the five paragraph framework because it makes writing so much easier. Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that writing a lot is the goal. When kids are constrained to five paragraphs they are not thinking “I need to make this look like a good post by making it long.” Instead they are thinking “I need to make it a good post by making it short and easy to read and by communicating effectively and appropriately”. Good writing is all about effective communication. You want to say whatever it is that you want to communicate as simply and succinctly as possible, and we find the five paragraph framework works really well in building these great habits.
Question 1: The introduction is where ...
You provide an overview of the lesson and introduce the topic of each body paragraph
You tell the reader about yourself so they know who the author is
You share how you came up with the idea for the lesson
You give details on the points in each body paragraph
Question 2: Each body paragraph should have ...
A single point that should be evident from the first sentence
Three points that correspond to each of the three sentences
Should always conclude with the purpose of the lesson
Includes an introduction and a conclusion along with three points
Question 3: The conclusion is where …
You summarize the key takeaways from the lesson
You introduce the purpose of the lessons
You learn for the first time about each body paragraph
You share more about yourself and why you wrote the lesson