The "paragraph hamburger" is a writing organizer that visually outlines the key components of a paragraph. Topic sentence, detail sentences, and a closing sentence are the main elements of a good paragraph, and each one forms a different "piece" of the hamburger.
|When to use:||Before reading||During reading||After reading|
|How to use:||Individually||With small groups||Whole class setting|
More writing strategies
Why use a paragraph hamburger organizer?
- It helps students organize their ideas into a cohesive paragraph.
- It helps show the organization or structure of concepts/idea.
- It demonstrates in a concrete way how information is related.
How to use paragraph hamburger
- Discuss the three main components of a paragraph, or story.
- The introduction (top bun)
- The internal or supporting information (the filling)
- The conclusion (bottom bun)
- Ask students to write a topic sentence that clearly indicates what the whole paragraph is going to be about.
- Have students compose several supporting sentences that give more information about the topic.
- Instruct students on ways to write a concluding sentence that restates the topic sentence.
Download blank templates
This PowerPoint presentation shows each of the pieces of the hamburger. The example provided is about why a teacher loves teaching!
This site walks readers through each step of using the paragraph hamburger writing strategy. Examples and instructions are given for writing topic sentences, supporting ideas, and conclusions of paragraphs.
For second language learners, students of varying reading skill, students with learning disabilities, and younger learners
- Show them numerous examples of well-written paragraphs and have them identify the parts. Or let them study it on their own by providing a number of paragraphs with the parts labeled.
- Provide students with some of the parts already filled in. For example, you provide all the "filling" sentences, and ask students to write a good introductory or wrap up sentence.
- Provide students with one example filled in entirely. Ask them to cut out each portion and then rearrange the pieces.
- Ask students to find a paragraph within their textbook. See if they can identify the different pieces of that paragraph. If necessary, have them revise the textbook paragraph!
- Have them speak the paragraph before writing the paragraph. Use scaffolding. For example, "What is one thing you would like to tell me about Fido (name of child's dog)." "How is Fido a lot fun to play with?" (elicit details). "So what did you tell me about Fido?" (conclusion).
See the research that supports this strategy
Richards, R. (2008). A Student's Perspective on Writing.
Richards, R. (2008). The Writing Road: Reinvigorate Your Students' Enthusiasm for Writing.
Children's books to use with this strategy
Diary of a Worm
What icky creature looks the same from both ends? The worm, of course! For the first time ever, get the insider’s view of life from this creepy crawler’s perspective. He lives underground with his family, eats his homework and does his best to annoy his sister — documenting it all in a diary. Simple illustrations are the ideal complement to the understated humor (though nonetheless laugh-out-loud tone) of the text.
The Bunnicula Collection: Books 1 to 3
Harold the family dog narrates three stories of life with supernatural suspicions which begins with Bunnicula, the bunny with fangs. In the Howliday Inn while boarding at the Chateau Bow-Wow, Harold and Chester (the Monroe cat) encounter a werewolf, perhaps. Chester and Harold must stop zombie vegetables when the Celery Stalks at Midnight. Over-the-top humor is very appealing to a broad range of listeners (including adults!).
Are We There Yet? A Journey Around Australia
The year Grace turned eight, her Mum and Dad took her and her siblings on a trip around Australia. The kids "missed school for the whole winter term" and Grace documented much of what she learned, where she went, and the adventures they had as they experienced the diversity of the continent. Grace’s informal voice is informative yet engaging, completed by line drawings and simple maps.
Flat Stanley: His Original Adventure
Life as a paper-thin boy is not all bad as Stanley finds out. He was flattened by a bulletin board bit adjusts quite well with the help of his parents to his new dimensions — all of which makes for very funny reading (and travels in later books about Stanley and his family).