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Action Steps

Actions steps for this module are divided into receptive and expressive steps. In either situation, teachers should be aware that truly effective paragraphs are more than a series of loosely related ideas. Therefore, all teachers should understand the structure and functions of a paragraph, as discussed in this module, in order to help their students achieve academic success.

Receptive Action Steps

1. When text is introduced in a course, have students identify the topic. This will help them focus on the general information they can anticipate reading.

2. Have students identify the topic sentence of a paragraph. This will give them access to the controlling idea. Identifying the controlling idea will provide them with the writer's perspective on the topic.

3. After students read a text, have them outline, in list form, the major points that support the identified controlling idea.

Expressive Action Steps

1. Be certain that students have a clear topic in mind prior to writing.

2. Students should be able to determine their opinion or perspective with regard to their chosen topic and should be able to phrase it appropriately.

3. After students have written their topic sentence, they should be able to clearly identify both the topic and the controlling idea. If they are unsure about either part, they should rewrite their topic sentence before continuing with the paragraph development. If they do not have a definitive controlling idea, the subsequent developmental sentences will likely not reflect a clear focus.

4. Students should limit their discussion to the scope of the controlling idea.

5. Once the body sentences have been written, students should be able to list the supporting points for the topic sentence (see receptive action plan #2). If they list every sentence, they may be including details for the supporting points rather than the supporting points themselves.