Writing Appetizers: Why & How

At the beginning of every class I have my students complete a “writing appetizer.” I have the students write one paragraph responding to a topic I select each day. (If you are missing any writing appetizers please click on the Writing App. tab on the home page  to download and print them. Write your responses on the back of the page or on a separate sheet of paper.)

All it takes to get a great score on the writing appetizers is to write one paragraph, but not just any three or four sentences will do. Here’s the guidelines I’ve set up to help the students write solid paragraphs:

In this post the example writing prompt is: “What is your biggest fear? Describe a time when you had to face that fear.”

Sentence One: A topic sentence stating what you are going to talk about. This sentence should respond to the prompt without any fluff or extras. For example: “My greatest fear is being left alone.”

Sentence Two: The second sentence should explain the topic sentence just written: “Being left alone scares me the most because I am afraid of what might happen without someone there to help me.”

Sentence Three: A sentence or two giving an example or a student’s  personal experience with the topic: “I was left alone once in eighth grade while my parents went to the store. It was at night and the power went out all of a sudden.”

Sentence Four: A sentence to sum up or conclude what the paragraph was about: “The time I was left alone in eighth grade was when I had to face my fear of being alone.”

If my students write me four sentences that 1) introduce a topic, 2) explain the topic, 3) give an example of the topic, and 4) conclude the paragraph, then they will make a great score on the writing appetizers. Also, these guidelines help my students write great paragraphs in all their classes and for the rest of their lives; that’s the skill I’m trying to teach with the writing appetizers.


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