Part II: Raising The Bar With Writing – Our 3 Paragraph Essays!

I’m back with Part II of my blog post: Raising the Bar with Writing! Thank you all SO much for your super sweet comments about Part I.  If you missed Part I of this topic, click HERE to rewind and catch up with us. πŸ™‚ 

We left off by talking about oral writing.  We learned that by using oral writing in your classroom, your students are consistently using “college talk” throughout the day. This means they are speaking in clear and complete sentences within your classroom. This is key if you want your students to WRITE in complete sentences. We also saw how using oral writing transfers to paper because using proper conventions such as capitals and periods has become habit. 

In Part I, I showed you our 5 sentence micro essays.  Today, I’m going to show you how we transitioned from a 5 sentence micro essay to a 3 paragraph Genius Essay!

We started by learning how to orally write a triple whammy sentence.  A triple whammy sentence has three parts to it and uses commas in a series.  An example of a triple whammy sentence would be:  In this blog post I will teach you about oral writing, micro essays, and triple whammy sentences.  Easy, huh? A triple whammy sentence has three parts to it.  It is, essentially, a thesis statement. 

Here is our color-coded chart for our Genius Essay.  Our orange, pink, and purple sentence is our triple whammy sentence.  Each part of the triple whammy sentence (Your overall topic sentence) gets its own “micro essay.”  Once the kids understood the color pattern, they quickly took off!

Since this was our first genius essay, we wrote the triple whammy sentence together, as a class, and underlined each part with orange, pink, and purple.  Our triple whammy sentence went something like this:  In this paper, I will teach you where polar bears live, what polar bears look like, and what polar bears do.  (Of course, prior to writing this, we read a lot about polar bears and did tons of research to learn about content.)
After we color coded the triple whammy sentence as orange, pink, and purple, they were on their own! I simply explained the easy format: Write a micro essay about where polar bears live for your orange paragraph, a micro essay about what polar bears look like for your pink paragraph, and a micro essay on what polar bears do for your purple paragraph.  Then, restate your triple whammy sentence for your closure! 
Easy-cheesy-lemon-squeezey!  Here is a close up of this little boy’s pink paragraph. You can see that what polar bears look like came second in the triple whammy sentence. So, he wrote about what polar bears look like in the second paragraph of his essay. 

The outline of our Genius Essay went like this:
Triple Whammy Sentence with three parts: orange, pink, purple.
Topic Sentence about “the orange part” of the triple whammy (Just restate the orange part.)
Conclusion sentence about orange
Topic Sentence about the pink part of the triple whammy
Conclusion sentence about pink
Topic Sentence about the purple part of the triple whammy sentence
Conclusion sentence about purple
Restate the Triple Whammy Sentence (Ex: “I hope you enjoyed learning about where polar bears live, what polar bears look like, and what polar bears do.”)
As you can see below, I had my students color code their essays during the entire writing process. If you look closely, you can see the orange, pink, and purple underlining on their thesis statements and the green, blue, blue, blue, red underlining in each of the three paragraphs. This made the writing process SUPER easy for my IEP kids and my struggling writers. 
The cute polar bear craftivity that tops our genius essays come from Teri and A Cupcake For The Teacher! Find her Polar Bear craftivity by clicking HERE.

 My kids were SO excited to extend their research even further by adding a QR code to their essays! These QR Codes will take you to this cute website where the kids or parents can learn even more about polar bears. Click HERE to check out the site. 
A snapshot of our Genius Essays hanging in our hallway.  
Aren’t they SO cute?! πŸ™‚ The kids were beyond thrilled that they had to glue THREE pieces of paper together to write their essays. “Woah!” I said. “It looks like you are writing a COLLEGE essay! Are you SURE you’re in first grade?!?!” (That just tickled them!)

I hope you enjoyed our polar bear essays! Thank you so much for learning about this process with us! We had so much fun and can’t wait to write another.  Our next venture is in using oral writing with opinion papers next week. I.can’t.wait.! πŸ™‚ 

Check out Farrah Shipley’s blog post, as well, for additional ideas! She wrote a great post about First Grade Whole Brain Teaching. πŸ™‚ Click on her button below to jump to her blog.

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Keep on raising the bar with writing!  And as always….

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  1. What a timely post. I am working with be high group in RTI and this will be perfect. I even own the same Polar Bear crafty. I can't wait for your next post. I'm also in the middle of reading the WBT book. Thanks soooooo much!

  2. Christina, I've loved your Raising the Bar With Writing series. Here in Aus I've had my new class for only 2 days and today we had a go with Oral Writing (just a simple one sentence idea from my new Grade 1s!) and they absolutely loved it! Thanks for the introduction to it!

    Miss Galvin Learns

  3. Christina, you make a challenging task so realistic for your students to accomplish and my students,too, thanks to your sharing it in your blog. I am definitely going to use this method with my students. The polar bear genius essays are awesome and I can't to walk down your hallway Monday and see them in person! You and your students are A-MA-ZING!

  4. This is AWESOME, Christina! We do SOOOOO much WBT in my class throughout the day, and we actually use the "swipe" with our hand when we are orally brainstorming and a comma pops up. My kids ALWAYS "get it" and make sense of it SO much more when whole brain strategies are involved… With that being said, I can totally see this being a SEAMLESS transition for me to introduce the oral writing into our routine and then tackle a micro and genius essay!! This makes SO much sense to me and I KNOW it will have my writers flying in NO time. Thank you SO SO much for sharing!!! πŸ™‚

    Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd

  5. I just finished reading your latest post on writing, so I had to go back and read this one and will read the next one too. This is AWESOME!!! I need to copy/paste this into a document for me to refer to. I would LOVE to see this from my 2nd graders!
    Thank you for sharing. Now to read the next part of your writing entry…

  6. Wow! This is amazing!!! I need to learn more about this whole brain teaching approach. I am somewhat confused about the movements and motions that go along with the oral sentences. But this was extremely helpful and makes so much sense! I could see this working very well for some of my more kinesthetic learners. Thank you so SO much for directing me to this post!

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