Write a “Multi-Source Essay” Homeschool Lesson Plan | 5MLP Podcast {ep 004}

5 minute lesson plan how to write an essayLearning How to Draft Paragraphs for a Multiple-Source Science Essay

SKILL: Writing | Essays

In today’s 5 Minute Homeschool Lesson Plan podcast, I’m going to share a Rhetoric Lesson Plan for writing a multiple source essay. We going to use the work we already did in episode # 3, Outlining Key Ideas.  In case you missed that podcast, make sure you go back, listen to it, and download the Lesson Plan. This note-taking grid will be the foundation for today’s multiple source essay.

In This Homeschool Lesson Plan You’ll Learn:

  • the difference between an essay and a research paper
  • about the various kinds of evidence
  • the distinction between a topic sentence and a thesis statement
  • which 5 paragraphs you need to draft
  • what to put in the intro & concluding paragraphs
  • what to put in the 3 mini-topic paragraphs

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What is an Essay?

But before we start writing the essay, let’s review the hierarchy of written arguments. First, there’s the simple essay…a short piece of writing (say 5 paragraphs or 1-1.5 pages, double-spaced) about one subject taken from the evidence of one source document, often from the author’s own views. Then there’s the multiple source essay which is what we’re doing today…also a short piece of writing (say 10 paragraphs or 3 pages) about one subject, but here’s the difference…in a multi-source essay, the facts come from more than one written source, preferably 3-5 authors. Finally, there’s the formal research paper which pulls from multiple source documents and could be about multiple subjects.

Both the essay and the research paper use evidence which can be historical, logical, statistical, anecdotal, scientific, or even testimonial; but here’s one more distinction to remember. The essay starts with a topic sentence whereas the research paper starts with a thesis statement.

What’s the difference between the two opening statements? A topic sentence explains or answers a ‘what’ question like “what kind of satellites are in outer space?” So an essay might start with this topic sentence:

Weather, security, and entertainment satellites populate outer space.

Whereas a thesis statement argues for a position based on the answer to a ‘why’ question like “why are there satellites in outer space?” In this example, the research paper thesis statement might be

Weather, security, and entertainment satellites populate outer space so that we can predict storm systems, secure national defense, and broadcasts news programs.

See the difference? The thesis statement is like a topic sentence with the words because or so that tacked on.

Draft at least one paragraph for each point (weather, security, entertainment), and show them how to write an intro and conclusion paragraph with transition sentences between the three body paragraphs. Write the essay together as a group, then have each tween take the rough draft and add their own style for a unique essay. Don’t worry about the other details of writing like stylistic techniques…this exercise is meant to teach compilation of multiple resources.

If you set aside four weeks to practice this skill set, use your three bullet point grids from episode # 3, and compile a grid and five paragraph group essay (intro, three body, and conclusion) each week. By the end of the four week learning unit, your tweens will have mastered the multiple-source essay, and they’ll be prepared when you teach the longer research paper.  Plus, you’ll be that much closer to reaching your homeschooling goals of raising a child who can write effectively.

Teaching Resources for this Lesson Plan:

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Listen While You’re Doing Other Things…

Okay, I know you have some mundane household chores or exercise time when you could be learning. What’s more convenient than listening to The 5 Minute Homeschool Lesson Plan on your smartphone or tablet while you’re walking the dog, running on the treadmill, or making cookies? When you get back to your computer, download and print the worksheets for your Homeschool Planning Notebook. What an efficient use of your time!


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