Objective: In this lesson, you will learn how to identify the topic sentence in writing examples. Five-minute focused freewrite

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In this lesson, you will learn how to identify the topic sentence in writing examples.
Five-minute focused freewrite:

For this activity, do not intentionally let your mind focus on any one thing. Instead, let your mind wander, and as it does so, put your thoughts down as quickly as you can.

Begin writing here:

Identifying the Topic Sentence

Have you ever read a paragraph without being able to tell what the writer was saying? Chances are, this frustrating experience was due to the fact that the writer didn't include the main idea in the topic sentence. He or she didn't focus the development of the paragraph around that topic sentence.

Take a look at the example paragraph on the next page.

People shouldn't abandon their pets. They should take them to the pound instead. Animals don't deserve to be taken home for pets just because they are cute, cuddly, and furry and then thrown away when they aren't cute anymore. They are given to children as pets. Then they are dumped beside the road to be a problem to other people. Some people are mean to stray animals. Every Easter, many people give rabbits to their children. Cute and cuddly rabbits delight children when they are little bunnies. Then when the rabbits get bigger and the children get tired of them, they turn them loose or dump them somewhere. Coyotes eat rabbits. People don't want stray animals around. It's cruel.
What is the topic sentence in the above paragraph? Write your answer below.

You are correct if you said, "People shouldn't abandon their pets." Although this is a good topic sentence, the reasons or supporting statements that followed were not very organized.

Compare the paragraph about abandoning pets with this paragraph.
Cartoons are too violent in this country. Every time someone turns the television on to so-called "kids' shows," scenes of fighting and shooting cannot be avoided. Shows like "The Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers," "Batman," and even "Bugs Bunny" are filled with violence. It is a proven fact that children imitate what they see on television, including acting out violent scenes from their favorite shows. The government should do something to cut down on cartoon violence
Can you see the difference in the two paragraphs? The first paragraph has some good ideas, but they lack unity. The paragraph about cartoon violence has focus. It presents the main idea in a good, strong topic sentence. What follows are good reasons to prove that topic sentence.
The purpose of a topic sentence is to hold a paragraph together.
Usually, the topic sentence is the first sentence in the paragraph. It tells what the paragraph will be about by naming the main idea or topic. It also gives clues to the development of the main idea of the paragraph.
You can expect certain things from the topic sentence. You can determine that the sentences which follow the topic sentence will give supporting details about the main idea. These supporting details may be presented as examples, comparison/contrast, order of importance, or cause and effect.
A paragraph is usually written about something or someone. The something or someone is the topic of the paragraph. The writer wants to tell readers something about the topic of the sentence. To find the main idea of a paragraph, first decide what the topic of the sentence is. Then, determine what the writer is trying to say about that topic that is different, unique, or special.

Read the following paragraph. Identify the topic sentence and type it in the space below.

Bananas, like many other kinds of fruit, should be picked in their green, or unripened, state. As is the case for most fruits and vegetables, this is not for marketing convenience. A banana is not at its best when freshly picked from the tree. A tree-ripened banana does not have the melting sweetness and velvety texture you want when you go to the store to buy bananas. Bananas ripen properly only after picking. They must also be picked at a certain stage of maturity. There is a three-week period during which the bananas must be cut if they are to ripen satisfactorily. The distance the banana must travel to be…

Topic sentence:

Notice that as you read through the rest of the paragraph, the details are given to help develop the main idea presented in the topic sentence.

The topic sentence is not always the first sentence in the paragraph.
Sometimes your topic sentence may come at the end of a paragraph. This is especially true if you are writing a persuasive essay. Using the topic sentence in this way lets you present issues effectively. If you lead your readers through a logical and carefully thought out argument and then present your conclusion, you are more likely to convince them that your conclusion is reasonable.

Here is an example of a paragraph with the topic sentence last. Details are given first and then the reader is led up to the main point in the final sentence.

Beginning with the sound of my alarm clock rudely interrupting my peaceful sleep and the shrill of my mother's grouchy voice yelling from the kitchen, "Sean, this is the third time I've called you! Get up!" I knew my day was going to be a disaster. I tried to get up, but my feet got caught in the sheets, and I fell out of bed. My favorite jeans were in the laundry. I accidentally squirted toothpaste all over the bathroom mirror. After getting dressed, I couldn't find my homework or my science book. Finally, I located them stuffed behind the dirty laundry. As I left the room, this thought kept running through my mind: Tomorrow I have to get better organized.

What is the topic sentence in this paragraph?

Now let's see what you have learned about topic sentences. In the spaces provided, write a topic sentence for each of these ideas.

1. my best subject in school

Topic sentence:
2. the most terrifying moment of my life

Topic sentence:

3. it came as a surprise

Topic sentence:

An Assignment for Your Student Writing Portfolio:

Select one of the topic sentences you wrote on the previous page and write a paragraph in the space below. You may need to write an introductory and concluding sentence to complete your paragraph. Remember to include details that support the main idea.

Begin writing here:

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