Last year, our Director of Instruction introduced us to CEREAL paragraphs, an easy-to-use formula for students to write paragraphs.
CEREAL is an acronym for:
C – Claim (where they answer the question with their first reason)
E – Evidence (The text states…)
R – Reasoning
E – Evidence #2
A – Another reasoning
L – Link
CEREAL paragraphs are an amazing start for students who struggle with writing essays. Students have gotten used to teachers referring to body paragraphs as “CEREAL paragraphs” so much that “body paragraphs” are almost obsolete. They can also name each part of the CEREAL paragraph upon request. This, for me, is a sign that students are catching on.
While this is an amazing start, it is in no way the end all or be all or paragraph writing. The negative about CEREAL paragraphs is that it makes writing too formulaic. Students don’t have a voice. Once they all do it correctly, it starts to seem robotic.
At the 7th grade level, there is no telling what the time frame is for students being able to perfect their CEREAL paragraphs. Last year, it only took one semester, as I was introduced to it in the second semester. This year, it’s taken me forever to get students to write CEREAL paragraphs correctly. Ways that I’ve used to help include Say Mean Matter charts and weekly Dialectical Journals.
Though it’s a bit frustrating, I will not give up.
What method do you use to teach writing?