Module 1 – Composition Basics: Paragraphs –

Module Introduction

Every composition features a number of common components. There is always an introductory paragraph, where you engage your reader, establish the tone or your essay, and set forth your thesis. There are also the paragraphs that form the body of your essay. These are where you develop your ideas or argument. Finally, there is the important concluding paragraph. This paragraph allows you to re-state your thesis and sup-topics, and close with a strong final statement.

In this module, we will explore the basic elements of each of these components. We will also provide general guidelines or frameworks to help you organize and write your essays effectively.

There are four (4) lessons in this module.

You can access the lessons below, or by using the course table of content navigation on the right hand side of the page.

Educational Values for this Module

Key Literacies:

Information and Media – Knowing how to locate, evaluate, and effectively use needed information, and to analyze and produce content in a variety of media forms through a variety of delivery channels.

Interpersonal – Knowing how to understand, relate to, and interact with other people across a broad spectrum of personal and professional contexts.

Key Competencies:

Communication –  Ability to listen to, understand, convey and contextualize information through verbal, nonverbal, visual and written means.

Creativity – Ability to imagine and devise new, innovative ways of addressing problems, answering questions or expressing meaning through the application, synthesis or repurposing of knowledge.

Critical Thinking – Ability to identify, analyze and evaluate situations, ideas and information to formulate responses and solutions.

Click here to see the full list of our educational values.

Module Toolbox

Lesson 1 – Introductory Paragraphs

A Proper Introduction – Some more advice on writing introductory paragraphs, such as do’s and don’ts
Source: Capital Community College, Hartford, CT

Examples of Great Introductory Paragraphs Examples of a few introductory paragraphs along with analysis on what makes them effective
Source: ThoughtCo

Writing an Introduction A short tip sheet on introductory paragraphs with a couple of simple, but direct examples
Source: Cambridge Rindge & Latin School

Lesson 2 – Thesis Statements

Writers Workshop: Writer Resources  Features a lot of good tips for writing a thesis statement, including some grammatical tips
Source: The Center for Writing Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Thesis Statements  An excellent breakdown of thesis statements with several useful examples
Source: The Writing Center, University of Carolina at Chapel Hill

Tips and Examples for Writing Thesis Statements Good examples of the three types of thesis statements
Source: The Online Writing Lab, Purdue University

Lesson 3 – Body Paragraphs

Body paragraphs: Moving from general to specific information A short guide to body paragraph flow and logical discussions, with a helpful chart
Source: The Online Writing Lab, Purdue University

Body Paragraphs A graphic layout of a body paragraph and some more helpful notes on transitions
Source: Mesa Community College

Transitions  An in-depth look at transitions
Source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Lesson 4 – Concluding Paragraphs

Conclusion Paragraphs A simple breakdown of the main elements of a concluding paragraph, along with some “do’s and don’ts”
Source: Mesa Community College

Writing a Developed and Detailed Conclusion  An example and analysis of a concluding paragraph
Source: Online Writing Lab, Purdue University

Concluding Paragraphs  Information containing suggestions of what to write for your final statement
Source: Capital Community College

Module Glossary

AJAX progress indicator
  • 19th Amendment
    (aka. the Anthony Amendment); amendment to the U.S. Constitution that granted American women's suffrage; ratified on August 18, 1920
  • academic essay
    a structured discussion of a particular subject; written to inform
  • argumentative essay
    an essay that requires the writer to make a strong argument for or against a specific topic, almost always by incorporating some form of outside, empirical evidence to support the writer’s claims
  • body paragraph
    paragraphs that follow the introductory paragraph and provide supporting arguments for a thesis statement
  • conclusion
    sums up the main argument of an essay and reiterates a larger context for the thesis
  • essay
    a structured written argument that uses multiple sub-points to support the main argument
  • film essay
    an alternative essay form, which takes a particular point of view and presents an argument through film, in order to gain the audience's support
  • informal essays
    a loose structured, one-sided conversation with the reader that generally states the writer’s perspective on a subject; written to entertain and inform
  • musical essay
    an alternative essay form, created either by putting a written essay’s text to music or by using musical forms and structures to provide a commentary on a song’s lyrical content
  • New Journalism
    a loose mix of reporting, criticism, and fiction written in the 1960s, which increased the essay form’s popularity
  • photographic essay
    an alternative essay form, made up of photos showing either a sequence of events or a sequence of thematically linked images that, when viewed in a particular order, implies a specific point of view toward a subject based on the audience’s reaction to the images
  • phrase
    the way in which a sentence is written, such as word choice and placement
  • revise
    editing a piece of writing to improve the substance of what is written
  • rhetoric
    spoken or written language that is carefully constructed in order to have an impact on the listener or reader
  • Susan B. Anthony
    an American women’s rights activist and a major figure in the Women’s Suffrage Movement throughout the 19th century
  • thesis
    the main idea of an argument or discussion
  • thesis statement
    a sentence that defines an argument
  • transcendentalism
    a philosophical movement from the early to mid 19th century which valued nature, humanity, individualism, and progressive social values
  • women’s suffrage
    the right of women to vote in elections


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