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Chapter 4: Getting to the Point of Paragraphs From this chapter, you’ll learn more about 1.identifying topic sentences that sum up the main idea. 2.additional.

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter 4: Getting to the Point of Paragraphs From this chapter, you’ll learn more about 1.identifying topic sentences that sum up the main idea. 2.additional."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter 4: Getting to the Point of Paragraphs From this chapter, you’ll learn more about 1.identifying topic sentences that sum up the main idea. 2.additional explanatory patterns for textbook paragraphs. 3.how to identify topics that rely more on reference than word repetition. 4.how to use the topic to get to the main idea. © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization.

2 Additional Ways Authors Introduce Topic Sentences Chapter 3 introduced three common locations for topic sentences. This chapter tells you about more about other locations and other patterns for introducing topic sentences. 1. That was Then, This is Now 2. Moving toward the Middle 3. Doubling Up on Topic Sentences 4. Introductory Questions followed by Topic Sentence Answers

3 Paragraph Pattern 1: That was Then, This is Now This explanatory pattern is characterized by 1.an introductory sentence (or sentences) that say how things have been done or what has been assumed or thought for a long time. 2.a topic sentence that challenges previous thinking and suggests that there is a new way of doing things. 3.supporting details that match up with the new way of thinking rather than the old. Based on that description, where is the topic sentence in this paragraph? © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization.

4 That Was Then, This is Now 1 For centuries, frogs have seemed to be Earth’s ultimate survivors, creatures capable of surviving any form of natural disaster. 2 But now frogs are under attack. 3 If something is not done fast, frogs may become extinct. 4 Already, almost one-third of all frog species have vanished. 5 In addition to the human invasion of frog habitats and the ills brought on by air pollution, frogs are being plagued by a mysterious fungus, which plugs their pores and leaves them to suffocate. 6 Amphibian experts all over the world are trying to find a cure for the fungus before frogs disappear from the face of the earth. 7 In parts of Central America, some frogs have been completely removed from their natural habitat and transported to new locations. 8 The goal is keep the healthy frogs safe from the fast-traveling chytrid fungus that has already destroyed entire species of frogs. © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization.

5 Paragraph Pattern 2: Moving Toward the Middle This explanatory pattern is characterized by 1. paragraphs that start off with a number of specific details, which provide background, pose questions, or offer illustrations. 2. A shape that balloons in the middle when the topic sentence arrives, only to slim down again following the topic sentence. 3. several introductory sentences that push the topic sentence to the middle of the paragraph. Based on that description where is the topic sentence in this paragraph?

6 © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization. Moving Toward the Middle 1 Are you one of those people who think professional athletes should quit their sport by age thirty? 2 Should they abandon their sport before physical decline sets in? 3 What’s the point, after all, of aging athletes trying to beat opponents ten years younger? 4 Isn’t it hopeless and pathetic? 5 If you are one of those people inclined to scoff at older athletes, you need to consider what some of them have achieved despite their age. 6 In 1991 baseball great Nolan Ryan pitched a no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays. 7 At the time, he was forty-one. 8 In 2003, at the ripe old age of forty-six, tennis player Martina Navratilova won two mixed-doubles crowns, one at Wimbledon and another at the Australian Open. 9 In the 2008 Olympics, no one expected much from forty-one-year-old swimmer Dara Torres, but to everyone’s shock, she became the oldest woman to ever medal at the Olympics.

7 The Importance of Paying Attention to Reversal Transitions Often when the second or third sentence of a paragraph is the topic sentence, the author will signal its presence with a reversal transition. Transitions such as however, but, on the contrary, unfortunately, nevertheless, and despite that fact are all examples of reversal transitions. They all signal that the writer is changing gears and moving away from the opening train of thought in a paragraph. © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization.

8 If reversal transitions are clues, where’s the topic sentence in this paragraph? 1 Experienced divers know about the beauty of the sea. 2 They know about its glorious colors and rhythmic movement. 3 But deep sea divers also know that the sea has its dangers, like the potentially deadly sting ray. 4 Lying almost completely covered by sand on the ocean floor, the stingray reacts instantaneously to the touch of a human foot or hand. 5 In response to that touch, the stingray whips its tail around and plants a sharp poisonous spine in the diver’s flesh. 6 In addition to intense pain, the poison can cause nausea, diarrhea, a dangerous drop in blood pressure and sometimes death. 7 Although there have been cases of stingrays becoming accustomed to humans who feed them, the best rule is “Diver Beware”! © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization.

9 Doubling Up on Topic Sentences This explanatory pattern is characterized by 1. a topic sentence at the beginning of the paragraph. 2. a topic sentence at the end. 3. two sentences that sum up the general point of the paragraph. So in your own words, what is the main idea or general point of this double topic sentence paragraph? © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization.

10 Dragonflies have a somewhat intimidating appearance, but don’t hold that against them; they are very beneficial to humans because they keep down the insect population. Dragonflies have huge eyes and an elongated body, topped off with a double pair of wings. Found around water, dragonflies do not sting, but their scary appearance still encourages humans to pull out the insect spray at the first sight of the fluttering creatures. That’s a mistake, however, because dragonflies eat mosquitoes, which are found around water, and mosquitoes breed dangerous diseases from West Nile virus to Malaria. Keeping the mosquito population down is one of the dragonflies great virtues, and it does a lot to make up for their appearance. © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization.

11 If you see one, remember, hands off the bug spray. © Ulrich Flemming

12 Introductory Questions Can Replace Introductory Sentences Sometimes authors replace introductory sentences with introductory questions. When they do, you need to look for the answer, which is likely to be the topic sentence. That answer can follow immediately, but it can also take a while to arrive. © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization.

13 Do people vary in their need for stimulation? Picture a city dweller who is visiting the country. Before long, she begins to complain that it is too quiet. Now imagine a country dweller who who is visiting the city. Very soon she finds the city “overwhelming” and seeks peace and quiet. These examples are extremes but they suggest that people learn to seek particular levels of arousal. (Adapted from Dennis Coon and John O. Mitterer Introduction to Psychology 12e,p. 330.) Where’s the topic sentence in this paragraph? © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization.

14 Turning Again to the Topic Just to review, the topic of the paragraph is the subject under discussion. answers the question: “What person, place, event, or thing is the author discussing?” is the starting point for discovering the reading’s main idea, or central thought. is repeated and referred to throughout the passage. is expressed in a single word or brief phrase. © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization.

15 Sometimes finding the topic is a no-brainer. A word or phrase is repeated so often, you couldn’t miss the topic if you wanted to. The Mandrake is a plant found in regions near the Mediterranean. It has a short stem and purple or white flowers. The Mandrake is said to have healing powers, among them the ability to induce sleep and revive sexual desire. In large doses, however, the Mandrake is said to cause madness and delirium. Did you guess that the Mandrake is the topic? © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization.

16 But what about here? Is the topic still so obvious? Is it Eisenhower or Warren? When Dwight D. Eisenhower nominated Earl Warren to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 1958, he thought he was putting a very conservative judge in place, who would be unlikely to promote dramatic changes in the legal system. Warren, however, turned out to be anything but conservative. It was he who pushed through ground-breaking civil rights legislation in 1954 and made the protection of individual liberties a passionate cause throughout his long career. As head of the Supreme Court for sixteen years, Warren was considered an “activist” judge who openly pursued a liberal agenda—much to Eisenhower’s surprise and shock. © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization.

17 Any one of the following topics would be correct. Earl Warren’s years on the Supreme Court Earl Warren’s role as Supreme Court Justice The liberalism of Chief Justice Earl Warren But the question you need to be asking now is why? © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization.

18 Any one of those phrases is correct because 1.the writer repeats and refers to the subject of Earl Warren as the liberal Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. 2.the references to Warren as a Supreme Court judge appear from beginning to end. 3.the references to Eisenhower dwindle toward the end. 4.the references to Warren often appear in sentence openings, a typical place for topic references to appear. That chain of repetition and reference is what makes “Earl Warren’s years on the Supreme Court,” (or a similar phrase), the topic of the paragraph. © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization.

19 Note the number of references to Warren as Supreme Court head versus the references to Eisenhower. When Dwight D. Eisenhower nominated Earl Warren to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 1958, he thought he was putting a very conservative judge in place, who would be unlikely to promote dramatic changes in the legal system. Warren, however, turned out to be anything but conservative. It was he who pushed through ground-breaking civil rights legislation in 1954 and made the protection of individual liberties his personal cause throughout his long career. As head of the Supreme Court for sixteen years, Warren was considered an “activist” judge who openly pursued a liberal agenda—much to Eisenhower’s surprise and shock. © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization.

20 A Word to the Wise The author doesn’t always identify the topic through repetition of the exact same word or phrase. Instead, the topic is threaded throughout the paragraph by a combination of straight repetition and the use of topic stand-ins or substitutes. Those topic substitutes can take many different forms, i.e., pronouns, synonyms, examples, and related words. © Ulrich Flemming

21 Don’t stop with the topic. Keep looking for the main idea. What other chain of repetition and reference do you see? When Dwight D. Eisenhower nominated Earl Warren to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 1958, he thought he was putting a very conservative judge in place, who would be unlikely to promote dramatic changes in the legal system. As a Supreme Court judge, however, Warren turned out to be anything but conservative. It was he who pushed through ground-breaking civil rights legislation in 1954 and made the protection of individual liberties his personal cause throughout his long career. As head of the Supreme Court for sixteen years, Warren was considered an “activist” judge who openly pursued a liberal agenda— much to Eisenhower’s surprise and shock. © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization.

22 Does this main idea match the chains of repetition and reference? Dwight D. Eisenhower was outraged when he discovered that Earl Warren was not the conservative he thought he had selected for the Supreme Court. © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization.

23 What about this main idea? Is it a match? Earl Warren may have been a conservative when he was picked for the Supreme Court, but on the bench he became a flaming liberal. © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization.

24 Now that you have the main idea, can you find a topic sentence that says much the same thing? 1 When Dwight D. Eisenhower nominated Earl Warren to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 1958, he thought he was putting a very conservative judge in place, who would be unlikely to promote dramatic changes in the legal system. 2 As a Supreme Court judge, however, Warren turned out to be anything but conservative. 3 It was he who pushed through ground-breaking civil rights legislation in 1954 and made the protection of individual liberties his personal cause throughout his long career. 4 As head of the Supreme Court for sixteen years, Warren was considered an “activist” judge who openly pursued a liberal agenda—much to Eisenhower’s surprise and shock. © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization.

25 Just So You Know Eisenhower was so upset about how liberal Warren turned out to be, he is said to have called Warren’s appointment the “biggest damned fool mistake I ever made.” Among Warren’s landmark decisions were Brown v. Board of Education, which banned segregation in public schools, and Miranda v. Arizona, which made it illegal for the police to take people into custody without notifying them of their rights, particularly their right to an attorney. © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization. © Ulrich Flemming

26 Different Texts Require Different Approaches Remember the advice in Chapter 1 about being a flexible reader? It certainly applies to how you determine the topic, main idea, and topic sentence. In business texts, topic sentences are most likely to head up the paragraph. In history texts, first position is powerful but so too is the implied main idea, where you, the reader, have to put the pieces together to construct a main idea statement. Psychology texts often use questions to point readers in the right direction. © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization.

27 A Word to the Wise Don’t focus solely on word or phrase repetition when trying to determine the topic. Instead, look for words, pronouns, examples, synonyms, and associations that are linked together to form a chain of repetition and reference. A chain of repetition and reference is what links the sentences in a paragraph together and, at the same time, reveals the topic and main idea. © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization. © Ulrich Flemming

28 For a quick review The topic should 1.be repeated and referred to throughout the paragraph. 2.answer the question, “What person, place, event, or thing is the author describing?” 3.be referred to in a variety or ways, through pronouns, synonyms, examples, associated words, and suggestions. © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization.

29 The Main Idea answers the question: “What does the author want to say about the topic?” is explained or proven by most of the other sentences in the paragraph. is expressed in a sentence rather than a single word or a phrase. can be expressed in any number of ways but always sums up the point of the paragraph.

30 © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization. Any number of readers can “language” the main idea in any number of ways, but only the author writes a topic sentence. If the author’s topic sentence leaps out at you when you read, great. But don’t obsess about it. Keep trying to use the author’s language to determine the main idea in your own words. Once you get a handle on the main idea, the topic sentence will become more obvious. A Word to the Wise © Ulrich Flemming

31 © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization. To understand the difference between the topic and the main idea, here are three topics: 1. Wikipedia 2. Facebook 3. Vaccines against Bird Flu

32 © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization. Here Are Three Possible Main Ideas: 1.Software now exists that can identify who makes changes to Wikipedia’s entries. 2.More and more employers are blocking employees from accessing Facebook at work. 3.Many drug companies are working hard to develop a vaccine against bird flu.

33 Here are the Three Main Characteristics of a Topic Sentence: 1.It’s one of the most general sentences in the paragraph. 2.Just about every other sentence in the paragraph develops it. 3.It could be used to answer the question, “What’s the point of the paragraph?” © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization.

34 A Word to the Wise Determining if a paragraph does or does not have a topic sentence is an important skill. If you find the topic sentence, you can paraphrase it for your notes and be sure you have summed up the paragraph. BUT that does not mean you hold off thinking about the paragraph’s point until you hit upon the topic sentence. You should be trying to determine the topic and main idea from the very first sentence, using the clues left by the author. © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization. © Ulrich Flemming

35 You’ve previewed the major concepts and skills introduced in Chapter 4. Take this quick quiz to test your mastery of those skills and concepts, and you are ready to read the chapter. Finishing Up: Getting to the Point of Paragraphs © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization. © Ulrich Flemming

36 Finishing Up: Getting to the Point of Paragraphs 1.True or False. Words or phrases expressing the topic of a paragraph are likely to appear at the beginning of sentences. 2. True or False. If a person, place or event is repeated and referred to in the beginning of the paragraph but not at the end, it’s still likely to be the topic of the paragraph. © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization.

37 Finishing Up: Getting to the Point of Paragraphs 3. True or False. The term chain of repetition and reference describes the way authors keep certain ideas in the forefront of the reader’s mind. 4. True or False. The “that was then, this is now paragraph” starts off by telling readers what people once thought before telling them what they think now. © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization.

38 Finishing Up: Getting to the Point of Paragraphs 5. When writers want to make sure readers don’t miss the point, they sometimes repeat the main idea in which two places? 6. True or False. When the author opens a paragraph with a question, the answer always follows right on the heels of the question and expresses the main idea. © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization.

39 7. What’s the main idea in this paragraph? Which sentence is the topic sentence? What clue gives away the topic sentence? 1 Bullying in high schools and elementary schools is a much discussed topic, yet many parents feel that they don’t know whether their child is being bullied. 2 They just can’t tell. 3 However, there are often visible signs that indicate a child is being bullied, and parents should be alert to them. 4 A child might be the object of bullying if he or she comes home from school with unexplained bruises or cuts. 5 Bullying might also be why a child suddenly shows no interest in school work. 6 Another sign is a child’s resistance to talking about school and signs of moodiness or tears upon returning home from school. 7 The sudden onset of insomnia when school starts is yet another indication that a child is being bullied. © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization.

40 8. Which one of the following paragraphs has a double topic sentence? a.Lydia Sherman’s life was never the subject of a horror film. But it could have been. In the late nineteenth century, Lydia Sherman, a demure housewife, almost got away with multiple murders. Sherman poisoned three husbands and six children. However she managed to escape detection until she had murdered her fourth husband. The doctor in attendance was not so willing to assume a woman could not commit murder. When Lydia’s husband died under mysterious circumstances, the good doctor ordered an autopsy and discovered that the dead man had died of arsenic poisoning. Lydia tried to get away but detectives tracked her down, and she went to jail for life, after admitting that she had killed eleven people. © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization.

41 b. 1 These days everyone seems to have a phobia of one sort or another. 2 For some people it’s fear of elevators. 3 For others, it’s flying. 4 Then there are the people who won’t leave their houses or who can’t stand the thought of being in crowds. 5 For a few, the fear is of water. 6 For many more, it’s fear of heights, and scaling Mount Everest would be a nightmare rather than a thrilling challenge. 7 Although some phobias are more obvious than others, modern life seems to encourage them, because everyone has one, even if they don’t admit it. © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization.

42 9. True or False. The topic sentence is introduced by a reversal transition. As a writer, Mark Twain was a genius. As a businessman, however, Twain was an abysmal failure. He lost money trying to market pre-gummed scrap books and a more efficient pants button. But it was a typesetting machine that brought him close to bankruptcy. Having spent thousands of dollars on the machine and losing close to half his fortune, he put on a demonstration to attract investors. The machine was barely running before it started to clack and clank. Within minutes one of its parts had bounced on the floor and Twain’s investors were out the door. © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization.

43 10. What word or phrase from sentence 1 is threaded throughout the paragraph? Which sentence is the topic sentence? 1 By their very nature, most care providers are readily accessible to clientele and have minimal security checks. 2 Often unrestricted movement throughout a facility may be gained by agitated and distraught family members, gang members, boyfriends and girlfriends, and clients who are frustrated over long waits and seeming lack of service. 3 Therefore, care providers are easy prey to anyone who walks in off the street with intentions other than seeking services. © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization.

44 Brain Teaser Question The mystery writer Ross Macdonald described one of his characters like this: “The walls of books around him, dense with the past, formed a kind of insulation against the present world and its disasters.” How can books be “dense with the past.” We put insulation in houses to keep the cold out, but how can books form “a kind of insulation”? What is the function of books for this character? © Laraine Flemming. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization. © Ulrich Flemming


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