Trailblazing Introductions

Sandy, Stoney, and Spring make molehills out of mountains.
     In our last episode Stoney, Sandy, and Spring (with help from Curley) worked through mountains of research cards to create graphic organizers for their upcoming expository essays.  Now that they have a map or plan for their essays, they are ready to begin writing them.

Remember to use the side scroll bar to move down the page.

Curley is the Master Trail Blazer.

     With only a week left, the three young writers seek Curley's help again.   They are amazed at how much he helped them with their graphic organizers, and they believe he can help them write their essays as well.

Curley agrees to help, and true to character, starts our trailblazing training with a question.

In your opinion, which part of an expository essay should receive the most attention?

The trailblazing begins!Stoney sighs, "Not another thinking question!"

Spring pipes up, "Stop your complaining! He's going to help us, isn't he?"

And Sandy tackles the question.

Click on the arrow to select the part of an essay that you believe needs  the most attention.  Curley will guide you to the right trail on the next page.                      


Sandy answers the question.   Sandy replies, "I think the body is the most important part. It provides the details and information that support the main idea."

      "Well, actually," Curley begins, "there are TWO important parts."


The introduction ropes the reader`s attention.

     The Introduction and Conclusion have a double lasso effect. They team up to rope the reader's attention and response. Together they make a strong expository essay.


The conclusion tries to rope a response from the reader.

Spring asks Curley a question.

  "The introduction is just the beginning. Why is it so important?" Spring inquires.

Why do you think the introduction is so important?

Move the arrow into the box and click to get a cursor. 
Type in your ideas.  Click the "Done" button when you are finished.

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Stoney is stumped!   "Okay Curley, I can read the trail signs, and I
understand what they mean, but what do
they really look like in an essay?"
Stoney questions. 
Curley leads the way.

     "Well, let me show you a couple of samples we rounded up on our last journey."

Rope the reader's attention. State the main idea. Give hints for what`s to come. Provide necessary background information.
Rope attention State main idea Give

Provide background

Curley has roped a sample.    "In this sample, I've marked the trail signs for you."

Someone Special

     Everyone has someone special in his or her life.Rope the reader`s attention and interest. The person special in my life is my brother.State the main idea. One reason why my brother is special is because he's loving. The second reason why my brother is special to me is because he's caring. The third reason why my brother is special to me is because he's annoyingly funny. Give hints for what`s to come.There are many other things that make my brother special, but these are the main ones.


This anonymous student response is used with permission from the Florida Department of Education.

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Stoney wonders about the fourth trail sign.Curley guides Stoney down the right path.
     "Wait a minute," says Stoney. 
"I thought there were supposed to be four trail signs."

     "Ah, I see  you paid attention!" remarks Curley.  "The fourth trail sign is not always necessary.  Background information, such as definitions and historical facts, is often included in an essay to improve the reader's understanding. "  

Now it's your turn to mark the trail signs. 
Use the essay below to complete the following activity.

   Magic Kingdom

     (1)From the parking lot, I could see the towers of the castle of the Magic Kingdom standing stately against the blue sky.  (2)To the right, the tall peak of the The Matterhorn rose even higher.  (3)From the left, I could hear the jungle sounds of Adventureland.  (4)As I entered the gate, Main Street stretched before me with its quaint shops evoking an old-fashioned small town so charming it could never have existed. (5)I was entranced.  (6)Disneyland may have been built for children, but it brings out the child in adults,too.

This example was written by Randa Holewa and used by permission of The Write Place, URL:  It was adapted from Basic Writing: A First Course, by Peter Carino, Harper Collins, 1991, and used with permission by him as well.

Rope the reader`s attention and interest.Select the sentence(s) used to rope the reader's attention:

State the main idea.Select the sentence that states the main idea:

Give hints for what`s to come.Select the sentence(s) that give hints about what's to come:

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Spring wants to sharpen her roping skills.
Curley shows Spring the trail markers.      Spring announces, "Thanks for your help, Curley. You've shown us the trail signs of a strong introduction. I know the first step is to rope the reader's attention.  Do you have any 'tricks of the trail' on how I can do that?"

     "There's more than one way to rope the reader's attention, Spring.
Let's follow the trail markers to explore the possibilities."

   Trail Markers for Introductory Paragraphs

Share a personal experience.Begin with a relevant personal experience or story.

Compare contrasting ideas.Begin with a contrast.

Give necessary background information.Begin with some historical background.

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Spring is ready to rope a reader.
     "Okay, Curley, I'm ready for some action. I've read the trail markers, and I've seen that there are lots of ways to write an introduction. I can use the tricks of the trail to identify how the author ropes the reader's attention."

     "Yee Haw! You're on the right trail now. Many writers don't realize the variety of techniques for writing an introduction," Curley exclaims.

Let's see how your roping skills have developed.  Read each of the selections below and then click on the arrow to select the writing technique being used.

The Basic Elements of Rock Climbing

     The sport of rock climbing began in Europe around 200 years ago.   Mountaineers started to participate in rock climbs as a means to stay in shape and practice in the off-season for the technical aspects of the climbs. It was an excellent chance to practice rope handling techniques and prepare for the most difficult sections of the alpine climbs.

-This introduction was written by an eleventh grader and is reprinted with permission from Great Source Education Group, Inc.

This introduction begins with a .

Error in Tactics

    The teachers or parents or administrators who undertook this project failed in their goals. Their goal of collecting samples of students' best work was not met. Their goal of making a new criteria-based grading system for writing in the "___" School District will not be accurate. Futhermore, once they receive their data, it will be very confusing as to how it will be used.

Used by permission of the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, Portland, Oregon.  Reproduction is limited to the Bay District School System.

This introduction begins with a .


The author is an eleventh grader.
     Volleyball is a sport that has taught me a lot about life overall. It is a game of skill and precision. For me, however, it is a great deal more. Join me on the court and see if you can understand what I mean.

Used by permission of the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, Portland, Oregon.  Reproduction is limited to the Bay District School System.

This introduction begins with a .

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Remember the tricks.    
Those "tricks of the trail" will help you begin an introduction.  To be a champion writer, remember  these trail signs:

Trail Signs for a Successful Introduction

Rope the reader`s attention and interest. Rope the reader's attention and interest.
State the main idea. State the idea to be developed.
Give hints for what`s to come. Give hints as to what the reader will encounter farther down the trail.
Provide necessary background information.Provide needed background information.
    The introduction and conclusion team up to rope the reader's attention and response.

The conclusion tries to rope a response from the reader.The conclusion tries to rope a response from the reader.Now that you've roped the trail signs of an introduction, venture on to the next lesson, Trailblazing Conclusions.  It will help you lasso the skills needed to write a strong conclusion.

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