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5.3 Writing Paragraphs: End-of-Chapter Exercises


  1. Select one of the following topics or choose a topic of your choice:

    • Drilling for oil in Alaska
    • Health care reform
    • Introducing a four-day work week
    • Bringing pets to work
    • Charging airline passengers to use the in-flight bathroom

    Create a topic sentence based on the topic you chose, remembering to include both a main idea and a controlling idea. Next, write an alternative topic sentence using the same main idea but a different controlling idea. Explain how each fully developed paragraph might differ in tone and content.


    Please share with a classmate and compare your answers.

  2. At some point during your career, you may be asked to write a report or complete a presentation. Imagine that you have been asked to report on the issue of health and safety in the workplace. Using the information in Section 5.1.2 "Identifying the Audience", complete an analysis of your intended audience—your fellow office workers. Consider how demographics, education, prior knowledge, and expectations will influence your report and explain how you will tailor it to your audience accordingly.


    Please share with a classmate and compare your answers.

  3. Group activity. Working in a group of four or five, assign each group member the task of collecting one document each. These documents might include magazine or newspaper articles, workplace documents, academic essays, chapters from a reference book, film or book reviews, or any other type of writing. As a group, read through each document and discuss the author’s purpose for writing. Use the information you have learned in this chapter to decide whether the main purpose is to summarize, analyze, synthesize, or evaluate. Write a brief report on the purpose of each document, using supporting evidence from the text.
  4. Group activity. Working in a small group, select a workplace document or academic essay that has a clear thesis. Examine each paragraph and identify the topic sentence, supporting sentences, and concluding sentence. Then, choose one particular paragraph and discuss the following questions:

    • Is the topic sentence clearly identifiable or is it implied?
    • Do all the supporting sentences relate to the topic sentence?
    • Does the writer use effective transitions to link his or her ideas?
    • Does the concluding sentence accurately summarize the main point of the paragraph?

    As a group, identify the weakest areas of the paragraph and rewrite them. Focus on the relationship among the topic sentence, supporting sentences, and concluding sentence. Use transitions to illustrate the connection between each sentence in the paragraph.

  5. Peer activity. Using the information you have learned in this chapter, write a paragraph about a current event. Underline the topic sentence in your paragraph. Now, rewrite the paragraph, placing the topic sentence in a different part of the paragraph. Read the two paragraphs aloud to a peer and have him or her identify the topic sentence. Discuss which paragraph is more effective and why.


    Please share with a classmate, compare your answers, and discuss the contrasting results.