Friday, May 10, 2013

Oral Writing: Speaking Essays

Once your students are fluently speaking in paragraphs, they can begin to speak ESSAYS!  This is where  the wonderful Triple Whammy Sentence comes into play, previously known as the Triple Gold Sentence.  You can read more about this, and the very important CLINKERS, HERE in one of my old blog posts. 

The Triple Whammy is a topic sentence frame that can fit any subject or material you are currently working on, and its purpose is to guide the format of the entire essay.  Start with practicing micro-essays orally with your students, and then it will be an easier transition into a 5 paragraph essay.  For those that think, "My students can't even WRITE an essay properly, there's no way I can get them to SPEAK them!" let me share with you the reality that our students don't write well because we do not give them enough PRACTICE!  We all know that our students speak how they write, so if we teach them to speak essays, and give them daily opportunities to practice them through Oral Writing, our students actual writing will  substantially improve!

Micro- Essay Format: 

  • Triple Whammy Topic Sentence  ________, ________ and ________.
  • Two Adders about first part
  • Two Adders about second part
  • Two adders about third part
  • Concluder
5 Paragraph Essay Format: 
  • Introduction with Triple Whammy Topic Sentence ________________ and ________.
  • Paragraph about first part
  • Paragraph about second part 
  • Paragraph about third part
  • Conclusion

*Remember that a paragraph should have at least 3 sentences!

The color coding helps students organize their essay even more.  I use the Triple Whammy with a baseball theme, the Phillies of course, to help students keep track of where they are in their essay as they speak it.  I put matching color coded bases (square papers glued unto magnets) on the board in the shape of a diamond under the Triple Whammy Sentence.  I found a picture of our team's mascot, the Phillies Phanatic, and glued him to a magnet as well.  As students speak their paragraphs, a chosen student leader moves the Phanatic to the base that corresponds to the part a particular student is on in their essay.  This baseball theme is where the whole "Let's Go ____! Let's Go!" originated.  Every Friday we have a  Phillies Phanatic Triple Whammy Review segment where we review material from the week, using different topic sentence frames.

For many students, talking about personal subject matter will make it easier to string adders together to create essays.  Here are some personal essay Triple Whammy starters:

Recess is _____ because _____, ______, ______.

My favorite sport is ________ because ________, _______, and ______.

Our class is the best because ________, _______ and ________.

I love my family because ________, ________, ________.

Three qualities that describe me are ________, ________, ______.

Three things I am good at are _______, _______, _______.

My favorite subject in school is _______ because _______, ______ and ______.

Here are some other open ended sample topic sentence frames, or essay frames that you start with for school subject matter.  Notice the magic rule of three:

The three most important points in Chapter ____ were _____, _______, and ______.

Three things I can interpret from the diagram  are _______, ________, ________.

Three things I learned today are ________, _______ and ________.

Three things that cause _______ are ______, _______ and _______.

Three details from the poem that show ________ are ________, ________, and _____.

The author thinks _______because ______, ______, and ______.

I like to use Triple Whammies for review orally, but now I also use them heavily for typical writing assignments.  We do a written 5 paragraph essay at least once a week.  After reading a chapter a day, this week I finished reading aloud The Bad Beginning, the first book in A Series of Unfortunate Events.  For their writing assignment, I wrote this Triple Whammy sentence on the board:

 The Bad Beginning, written by Lemony Snicket, was _____________ because ________, ________ and ________.

The students took out their slates and began to write similes or metaphors to use in their Triple Whammy Essays.  Once I approved theirs, they went on to complete their Triple Whammy sentences, being sure to have a partner check that they didn't have any CLINKERS. This is ALL we did on the first day.  Since the Triple Whammy guides the entire essay, I give them the time to make sure they are properly constructed.

Here is a sample Triple Whammy written by a Mid-level student:

The Bad Beginning, written by Lemony Snicket, was as dreadful as a nightmare because the Baudelaire's parents died, the children had to live with an evil man, and Sunny was trapped in a high tower.


These are just some ideas to get you started, but you will find that it will be very easy to create Triple Whammy sentences that relate to the material you are working on in class.  Remember that the key is to PRACTICE!  Oral Writing should be integrated into EVERY part of your day.  If you have any open ended Triple Whammy sentence  frames you would like to share, please leave them in a comment!  The next post in this series will discuss citing evidence and using quotes in paragraphs.

1 comment:

  1. These essay prompts are a big help to an essay writer like me. I hope more teachers will adapt this. Writing exercises such as this help students construct well-versed and cohesive pieces.


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