Writing Process: Intros and Conclusions

One area that I stress for essay writing is composing a strong introduction. One of the hurdles I face is getting the students to understand that an introduction can be more than just the first paragraph. This is difficult. Even with their research based essays, that are about five pages, the introduction is just a paragraph.

In the process of teaching about the introduction I try to emphasize what an introduction does.

Three Functions of an Introduction

  • Catch reader’s interest
  • Set the tone
  • Present thesis

Now, I know that some teachers may disagree with me on the next section, but that is OK. The purpose of this post is not to argue about the different types of introductions. It is to generate ideas to help students strengthen their writing. I present the idea of six basic introductions the students can construct.

Six Types Introductions

  • A Question (rhetorical)
  • Anecdote / Example (a little story)
  • A Startling Fact or Unusual Opinion
  • Background Information
  • Set the Scene
  • Thesis Statement

*An introduction may mix together different types, but has one central idea that sets the tone of the introduction

As a class we read professional essays, like “The Chase” by Annie Dillard (especially for narrative writing). But I also collect (with permission) student essays to share with my classes. Whatever we read, I always ask them about what type of introduction is being used and what type of conclusion.

Yes, I present six types of conclusions.

Six Types of Conclusions

  • Restate Main Idea
  • Summarize Main Points
  • End with a Comment
  • A Call to Action
  • Refer to the Introduction
  • Use a Quote

The hardest part of ending an essay for students is to trust that the reader understands that the essay is ending without saying, “In conclusion.” I can’t tell you how many times I have read those two words…

Yes, the content of the essay takes work, but for most students the body is easier to handle than writing a powerful introduction or trusting their conclusion. It is worth it to spend more time with these two components of an essay.


About jboelhower

I am a husband and a father. I have been in the field of education for over 20 years.
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