FAQ: How do you teach students to start a new paragraph?

ANSWER: Students need to know when to indent and start a new paragraph. Share with them the 3 most common scenarios:

3 Reasons to Indent a New Paragraph

  1. When the sub-topic changes–When the facts, information, details, or ideas shift to another facet of the topic, it’s time for a new paragraph.
  2. When the setting changes–When there is a shift in time, location, mood, day, date, direction, or space, writers alert their readers with an indent.
  3. When the speaker changes–Every time a character (dialogue) or individual (quote) speaks, a new paragraph is needed.

TIP: To help her students understand what an indent looks like, Ruth Jostes of Lake Street Elementary (Crown Point, IN) took a handful of Play-Doh and pushed her fist into the ball of clay. They discussed how the first word in a paragraph looked “dented” like a car after an accident.

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