I've just finished up the first two weeks of this semester's English Skills - an intensive, four-week mega module for new CCHS students covering the basics of mechanics and writing styles they'll need to be successful at CCHS. We talk about semicolons and parallel structure, 3.8 paragraphs and 5 paragraph essays, presentation skills and close reading.
One of the foundational elements of writing at CCHS is the 3.8: a paragraph with eight sentences covering three different topics. It's foundational here because this paragraph helps students develop thesis statements, understand how to use specific facts to support a thesis, and practice organizing ideas effectively. Teachers in all subjects use the 3.8 as a go-to quick response, so it's important for students to be confident writing them well.
Here's an example of a 3.8 I was given last week by one of our new students, Ehlana. This paragraph stood out to me because, besides effectively stating an opinion on a topic and giving three reasons to support that opinion, she weaves imagery and voice throughout the eight sentences. I dare you to read it and not picture a light breeze rustling through aspen leaves!
Of the Seasons
It is my opinion that Autumn is the best season of the year because the weather is nice, the world is filled with colour, and you can spend time with your friends once again. Fall is amazing; with the earth tilted away from the sun, hot summers turn to cool days. The sweaty tank tops are discarded and more comfortable sweaters donned. With the cold nights, leaves begin to change into a rainbow of colour. In the mountains, it can be a sea of reds and gold crunching under your feet. With the colours in the air, we go back to school. Our friends greet us in the hall while leaves continue to fall. With perfect weather, golden trees, and laughing friends, fall is easily the best season of the year.
Christine Bailey: teacher of English, user of fountain pens, fan of Calvin and Hobbes, and advocate of parallel structure.