Monthly Archives: February, 2012

Transitions between paragraphs.

The following information comes from: and

Elements of a Paragraph

To be as effective as possible, a paragraph should contain each of the following: Unity, a topic sentence and a good transition between paragraphs.

Unity:  The entire paragraph should concern itself with a single focus. If it begins with a one focus or major point of discussion, it should not end with another or wander within different ideas.

A topic sentence:  A topic sentence is a sentence that indicates in a general way what idea or thesis the paragraph is going to deal with. Although not all paragraphs have clear-cut topic sentences, and despite the fact that topic sentences can occur anywhere in the paragraph (as the first sentence, the last sentence, or somewhere in the middle), an easy way to make sure your reader understands the topic of the paragraph is to put your topic sentence near the beginning of the paragraph. (This is a good general rule for less experienced writers, although it is not the only way to do it). Regardless of whether you include an explicit topic sentence or not, you should be able to easily summarize what the paragraph is about.

Paragraph Transitions

Smooth paragraph transitions help readers move from the last paragraph’s discussion to a new paragraph’s ideas.

To build an effective paragraph transition, a writer has to show the reason that one paragraph comes after another, just as a sentence can usually make sense only because of the sentence before it. (Imagine how confused you’d be if the passage from below first sentence weren’t said):

Eating a tart cherry pie has always made my mouth water. Sometimes I drool so much that red juice runs down my chin. A waitperson at a restaurant even remarked to me once that I appeared to be in a pie-eating contest with myself.

Answer the following question: What words and ideas reoccur to connect the sentences? What do you think the next paragraph will be about and why?

The first and second sentences use the synonyms salivate and drool. The characteristic red color of cherries mentioned in the second sentence connects it to the first. The last sentence connects to the topic sentence by repeating the word pie, and it connects with the second sentence with the idea of being messy. These synonyms, repetitions, and common ideas help to create paragraph cohesion.

The paragraph left off with a stranger making a comment about how sloppy a pie-eater the speaker is. In general, a new paragraph is started when a different topic,time, or place is being discussed, so right away the reader will expect something different—but related—to be discussed when a new paragraph begins:

Here is where the last paragraph left off….

. . . at a restaurant even remarked to me once that I appeared to be in a pie-eating contest with myself.

Here is the second paragraph

I frequently find myself the recipient of personal comments bestowed by who may imagine they are being helpful or at least funny. I always try to have a sense of humor and humility about myself, but self-deprecating humor is my preferred way to connect with others. Suddenly having a person leap out and make a joke at my expense only pains my all-too-thin skin.

The second paragraph becomes a broader discussion of the type of behavior the author has experienced from strangers. The new paragraph’s topic sentence refers back to an unfamiliar person’s humorous actions but its purpose is to expand the scope of the topic to include the effects of this type of situation. Though the second paragraph has a new focus, it first rewords and builds on the ideas of the previous paragraph in order to carry the reader toward a new area of thought.

Expository Writing

The following information comes from

What is Expository Writing?

Exposition is a type of oral or written discourse that is used to explain, describe, give information or inform. The creator of an expository text can not assume that the reader or listener has prior knowledge or prior understanding of the topic that is being discussed. One important point to keep in mind for the author is to try to use words that clearly show what they are talking about rather then blatantly telling the reader what is being discussed. Since clarity requires strong organization, one of the most important mechanisms that can be used to improve our skills in exposition is to provide directions to improve the organization of the text.

Pattern Description Cue Words Graphical Organizer/Sample Passages
Description The author describes a topic by listing characteristics, features, and examples for example, char- acteristics are View
Comparison The author explains how two or more things are alike and/or how they are different. different; in contrast; alike; same as; on the other hand View
The author explains how two or more things are alike and/or how they are different. comparison essay usually discusses the similarities between two things, while the contrast essaydiscusses the differences. 
Cue Words
different; in contrast; alike; same as; on the other hand

Example of Compare/Contrast Writing

Expository writing has distinct features that distinguish it from creative writing.  The content of an expository essay is factual and straight-forward while the content of a creative story is imaginative and symbolic.  Expository essays are written for a general audience but creative stories are designed for a specific audience.  The writing style of an expository essay is formal, standard and academic, while a creative story uses an informal and artistic style.  The organization of an expository essay is systematic and deliberate; on the other hand, the organization of a creative story is more arbitrary and artistic.  Finally, the most important difference between the two types of writing is the purpose of the text.  An expository essay is written to inform and instruct, while a creative story is written to entertain and captivate.

The author describes a topic by listing characteristics, features, and examples.
  It provides details about how something looks, feels, tastes, smells, makes one feel, or sounds

Cue Words
for example,
the characteristics are…

Example of Descriptive Writing

Expository essays are written by students to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of a particular topic.  For example, a student might use a descriptive pattern to emphasize the features and characteristics of a topic.  Sequential writing emphasizes the order of events, listing items in numerical or chronological order.  A writer might use a comparison or contrast pattern to emphasize the similarities or differences between two topics.  A cause and/or effect pattern shows the relationship between events, while a problem/solution pattern shows a different kind of relationship that discusses a problem and suggests solutions.  Variations of these patterns are sometimes used, as well as a combination of patterns to create an expository essay.

Click the link below for more information regarding expository writing.

Hunter-Gatherer Societies / The Maya Civilization

Background Knowledge: Early humans were hunter-gatherers. They lived by hunting small animals and gathering plants.  This will help you create your civilization using the same tools and methods of living as they did.

How did Early Hunter-Gatheres live?
Unfortunately, Archaeologists do not know a lot about hunter-gatherer societies.  Most of them lived for a short time and died out.

The Development of tools
About 2.5 million years ago, early humans developed a useful new skill.  The learned how to make tools out of stone.  This innovationor new way of doing things, was so important that archaeologists call the period the Paleolithic Era, or the Old Stone Age.   (Yabbadabbado!!)

At first, the tools made by early humans were simple.  Tool makers split stones to make cutting tools for chopping down small trees, cutting meat, or scraping the flesh off an animal skin.  Over time, Stone Age toolmakers became more skillful, making thinner and sharper stone blades.  Some blades were used to make spears and arrows.  Toolmakers began using bones and antlers, and some added decoration and color to their work.

The Maya Civilization
The Maya Civilization arose in the tropical rain forests of Mesoamerica. Mesoamerica is the region is the region of the southern part of present-day Mexico and nothern Central America.  This civilization reached its height between A.D. 250 and A.D. 900.  The geographic setting of the Maya civilization was not like that of the river valley civilization like the one in ancient Egypt.  River Valley civilizations arrose on the fertile soil beside large rivers.  The Maya had no such rivers.  They built their civilization on thin soil in dense rain forests.   More than 2,000 years ago, Mesoamerica farmers learned how to clear patches of rain forest to raise food.  because rain washed away the thin forest soil, farmers built raised fields for planning.  They also dug canals to bring water to their fields in the dry season.  Their main crop was maize, or corn. In addition to corn , they grew beans, squash, and other foods.  They also domesticated animals such as dogs and turkeys.

Features of the Maya Civilization
Maya civilizations shared many of the features of other civilizations.  However, the Maya did not form a united group under a single government.  Instead, Maya civilization was made up of different groups living in separate, independent cities.

Maya Cities
People in the cities depended on the food supplied by Maya farmers.  At the center of a Maya city were splendid stone buildings, wide plazas, and courts for playing ball games.  Some Maya cities were home to as many as 100,000 people.  Offcials lived in the city’s stone buildings, but farmers and workers lived in simple wooden houses.  Ball games drew large crowds into a city.  THe object of the game was to keep a hard rubber ball in the air without touching it with hands or feet.  Although players wore protective pads on their arms, knees, and hips injuries were common.

Maya  Government
Each Maya city had its own well-organized government.  At the highest level of government was ruler.  The position of ruler was handed down from father to son within a family.  Beneath the ruler were various officials of different ranks, or levels.  High-ranking officials advised the ruler.  Low-ranking officials had jobs such as collecting taxes.  The Maya believed that their rulers had godlike powers.  A ruler was expected to use these powers to help his people.  In one ceremony, the ruler offered his blood to the gods.  In return, he asked the gods to provide sunshine and rain for the crops.

Maya Economy
Maya farmers raised enough food to support people in other jobs.  In addition to government officials, the Maya had many skilled craftsworkers and artists.  Traders traveled from city to city with such good as animal skins and jade, a beautiful green stone.  They also traded dried fish, honey, and cacao, or ocoa beans.  Cacao, which was used to make chocolate drink, was so valuable that the Maya sometimes used cocoa beans as a form of money.

Maya Religion
THe Maya worshiped many gods.  Most of their gods represented natural fores, such as the sun, the moon, and rain.  REligion was part of daily life.  People might make offerings or say prayers to ask for health or good crops.  During the year, religious events were help to please the gods.  These activities usually took place in a temple located in teh center of the city.  The city’s ruler was the most important religious offical.  many priests assisted him.  The priests were in charge of marking time.  in other words, it was their job to know the exact day when festials and ceremonies honoring each othe gods should take place.

Maya Social Structure
At its height, the Maya civlization was divided into several social classes.  The top class was made up of the ruler, high-ranking officials, and priests.  These people help importnt positions in the government and in business.  Lower-ranking officials, traders, and skilled workers formed the middle class.  Farmers stood at the bottom of this social structure.  Warfare was part of Maya life.  Powerful rulers often raised large armies and fought other cities.  One goal of warfare was to take prisoners.  Farmers and workers who were caputred in battle became slaves, or captive workers.  High-ranking prisoners were sacrificed to the gods.

System of writing
The Maya invented one of the most advanced wirting systems in the ancient world.  The Maya carved their writing on giant stone blocks.  They recorded information about rulers, ceremonies, and wars.  They created books that described their history, religion and culture.  These books also included information about the stars and planets.  The Maya used a writing system based on hieroglyphs.  A hieroglyph that represents a word or an idea is like one of the numerals that we use to represent a number.  Anyone who knows the numeral 5, for example, understands what 5 means.  This is true whether a person speaks English, Russian, or Japanese.

Discoveries in Science
Maya priests made brilliant discoveries in astronomy – The study of the stars and planets.  The plotted the movements of the sun, the moon, and the planet Venus.  They also made great advances in mathematics.  They figured out the concept of zero long before it was known in most of the rest of the world.  With their knowlede of mathematics and astronomy, the Maya could make very accurate calendars.  Like other people in Mesoamerica, the Maya used several calendars with different lengths of time.  THey used a 365-day calendar based on the solar year.  A solar year is the time it takes Easth to orbit the sun.  The Maya also used a 260 day calendar, mainly for religious purposes.  Their longest calendar, caled the Long Count covered a period of about 5, 128 years.

Art and Architecture
The Maya were highly skille in many arts.  They crafted fine pottery, bone carvings, and jewlery from gold and jade.  They also painted beautiful scenees on the walls of palaces and temples.  These paintings show high rankings Mayas dressed in fine clothing.  many wear large head covering with the feathers of tropical birds.  The Maya developed their own style of architecture, or building desgin.  They constructed buildings from large blocks of stone, which were often carved with complex designs.  Many buildings were topped with a roof comb, or a stone carving that made the building look taller and mroe impressive.  The most important temples were built on the tops of the great pyramid.  The ruins of such Maya cities as Tikal, Corpan and Palenque are among the wonders of the ancient world.