“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.