Topology of Topic Sentences

0 3 220
Have students review the section of the handbook on topic sentences before class. Ask them to bring in a copy of their current draft with all of the topic sentences removed. In peer revision groups, share these drafts and have the peers craft topic sentences that would work in the paragraphs. The student should then compare these to her or his original sentences. This exercise has a number of advantages: students get practice identifying the topic sentences of their own paragraphs (or learn to recognize when their paragraphs do not have them), they get practice writing these sentences for peers, and finally they get a sense of whether or not their paragraphs are clearly focused, based on whether or not the topic sentences they get back accurately reflect what they feel is the content of the paragraphs.
About the Author
Barclay Barrios is an Associate Professor of English and Director of Writing Programs at Florida Atlantic University, where he teaches freshman composition and graduate courses in composition methodology and theory, rhetorics of the world wide web, and composing digital identities. He was Director of Instructional Technology at Rutgers University and currently serves on the board of Pedagogy. Barrios is a frequent presenter at professional conferences, and the author of Emerging.