“If a paragraph was a burger…”

Students in grade 8 created a visual burger metaphor to show their prior knowledge and understanding about paragraphs.  Specifically:

1) What are the different parts of a paragraph?
2) What is the function / importance of each of these parts?
3) How do all these parts ‘fit together’ to form a cohesive whole?

After reviewing some PIE/PEE strategy notes, students should look back at the burger metaphor and compare ideas.  Complete a short ‘I used to think… Now I think…” in the comments box below re: paragraph structure.



1. What is a paragraph?


  • are made up of sentences (usually more than one sentence? 5-6 sentences?are usually about one “topic”/”part”/”segment”/”scene”

  • start on a new line; first sentence is indented (5 spaces/TAB)

  • have sentences which have something in common (each sentence leads into the next sentence)

  • separate different ideas (by grouping related ideas together)

  • organize your writing

  • organize the structure of your writing

  • make it easier to read/look nicer

  • allow the reader to come up for air/surface/take a breath

 2. Are there different kinds of paragraphs?


  • different genres have different “paragraphs” (organizational structures) – poetry (stanzas), songs (verses), prose (paragraphs)

  • fiction vs. non-fiction (articles, essays!)

  • purpose: e.g. introduction, conclusion, body paragraphs, descriptive, expository, dialogue…etc.

  • short/long (depends on the genre)

  • contains quotations/doesn’t contain quotations

  • sentences? – many/few, long/short/(a mixture), etc.

 Go to the next page (below) to learn more about the difference between paragraphs in fiction and non-fiction AND to look at a sample paragraph.

3. What is the difference between paragraphs in fiction vs. non-fiction (essay)?



Non-Fiction (essays)


Many different sizes

Same size (except for introduction and conclusion)


Purpose: describe setting, describe character, dialogue, action

Purpose: information about a topic, factual evidence (examples/quotations), analysis/interpretation


Structure (when do we switch to a new paragraph?): small scene change, character-to-character dialogue, time moving on (actions, new things happening)…usually chronological

Structure: one paragraph = one main topic/subtopic, one example (quotation) and one interpretation.  Use the PEA (Point, Example, Analysis) structure.

Writing Essay Paragraphs

Point – introductory sentence, topic statement, what you think about the topic, setting up your example…

Illustration / Example – quotation (PAGE NUMBER). Introduce with a COLON!!!

Explanation / Analysis – explaining the quotation – explaining the writer’s techniques/choices – prove your point

Throughout the novel, Michael is portrayed as a lonely and depressed young man.  His isolation is so obvious that it is recognized by his teacher, Mrs. Dando, who tries, although in vain, to cheer him up: “She took a fruit gum out of her pocket and held it out to me. A fruit gum. It was what she gave the new kids when they were sad or something” (12).  In this quotation, David Almond introduces the minor character of Mrs. Dando to demonstrate the visibility of Michael’s loneliness and unhappiness.  The fact that she gives Michael a fruit gum shows us that she is a kind person who is worried about him.  On the other hand, because this novel is narrated in first-person, through Michael’s character, we can clearly see that he finds this gesture shallow and meaningless.  His repetition of “a fruit gum” seems to imply a mocking tone and his recognition that she gives fruit gums to “new kids” who are “sad or something” shows that he does not appreciate what she is doing, because it does not help him deal with his problems.  What Michael is actually seeking is a close friend that he can talk to about the serious problems involving his sister and family.



29 thoughts on ““If a paragraph was a burger…”

  1. I used to think that paragraphs were always in a specific order and all the same. Now I think that the size and format of paragraphs vary between genres and can be completely different.

  2. I used to think there wasn’t that much order needed in one paragraph. I only knew about having a topic sentence and a conclusion. Now I know that there is an order to the paragraph such as Pea/Pie. This makes the paragraph more interesting.

  3. I used to think that paragraphs were not important to follow. Now I think that they are important to use in writings and they will improve your writing.

  4. I used to think a paragraph had only one format now I think that you can have many different formats according to the kind of writing (e.g fantasy/non fiction/analysis etc.

  5. I used to think that paragraphing would always have to be in a specific size to make it more organized, But now i think it doesn’t matter as much it can be what ever size as long as it logical and can be different every time.

  6. I used to think that writing details was the most important in paragraphs, but Now I think that we need examples before the details to show evidence.

  7. I used to think that paragraphs are simple to write and don’t take make prior thought to write them, but now I think that to make a good paragraph you need to check back to the text constantly and other things.

  8. I used to think that all the paragraphs doesn’t have any structure to it. Also I used to think that paragraphs don’t have any order to it. I now know that every paragraph has an order and needs something like a strong hook or structure to interest the reader

  9. I used to think that paragraphs were just writing a lot of words but now I think that there are a lot of techniques used to make a paragraph.

  10. For the middle paragraph, (second one) I used to think you only write a descriptive explanation about you statement/point. To make that point, now I know that you can use some quotes from the book, article, etc.

  11. I used to think details came before examples/illustrations.
    Now I know that examples are written before details and explanation 🙂

  12. I use to think paragraphs were a bunch of sentences together.
    Now I think paragraphs are a bunch of sentences and quotations together that give more detail.

  13. I used to think that there were no structures in paragraphs. I only thought that there were structures or conclusions in the overall essay. Now I know that it is really important to have strong structures in paragraphs to keep the reader interested.

  14. I use to think that paragraphs were separated by only topic and that and detail in the sentence is the most important thins but Now I know that Paragraphs are not just for separating the topic but we need evidence in them and reasoning for the statement you make too.

  15. I use to think paragraphs were easy and you didn’t have to put much effort but now I realize there is introductions, topic sentences, hooks, reasons, evidence, detail and conclusions to worry about.

  16. I used to think there was not much structure in paragraph so you can write them in no particular order. Now I think it takes a lot of structure to make a good paragraph.

  17. I knew most of the things but for the second paragraph I didn’t know they were that many varieties of different kind of paragraphs.

  18. I used to think that whenever writing a quote, I just needed to write it in like everything else. Now I think that I always need to put a colon before the quote.

  19. I used to think that there was no need for a example for a paragraph. Now I think that we would always need a proof or an example for a paragraph.

  20. I used to think paragraphs in fiction writing and non-fiction writing had the same structure. Now I know that fiction and non-fiction paragraphs are different in many different ways.

  21. I used to think paragraphs were just bunch of sentences that jumbled together and none of them had safe topic. Also I used to think that paragraphs don’t have any spaces so it looks like I know the topic and writing a lots but I don’t actually know. But now, I know that paragraphs, it talks about same topic but in the diffrent way of explaining. Also I know that I am writing paragraph because I KNOW IT ! 🙂

  22. I used to think paragraphs didn’t need much thought and didn’t have multiple aspects, and that quotations needed to have a colon before it, but now I think that the it’s important the way you set up a paragraph and how you use the quotations.

  23. I used to think that all paragraphs were the same depending on the genre but now I know and found out that the size of the paragraph varies with genre.

  24. I used to think that paragraphs were the same in non-fiction literature and fictional literature, and mainly were just used to categorize the document. I now know that non-fiction paragraphs are very different from paragraphs from fictional literature. I also now know that paragraphs are used for more than just categorization.

  25. I used to think that there is nothing special for writing a paragraph, is easy to write and didn’t know that it broke into parts. But now I know that there is a lot to writing a paragraph just like writing an essay. I learned that paragraphs have a structure to It and that there is lots of different types of paragraphs used at different times.

  26. I used to think fiction paragraphs would only switch or you would only make a new paragraph when the topic changes or the idea. Now I think think that new fiction paragraphs can be put in for many reasons like when you change the character or the scene.

  27. I used to think that paragraphs were not such a complicated thing to write. Now I think that to write a paragraph it is important to follow many steps.

  28. I used to think paragraphs were just a couple of sentences filled with information on the topic you are talking about.But now I know that they are not just sentences they have reasons,evidence,explanation of evidence,topic sentence and summary which are the things that paragraphs are made and they help a paragraph look good.

  29. I used to think paragraphs are for writing evidence, main ideas and statements that support these ideas.

    Now I think that writing paragraphs clearly and in different length is important, so that it is easier for readers.

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