Introduction Inspection

In a stack of papers called Writing.

  • Oct
  • 27
  • 2010

Last year, my good friend and I put together a presentation and we alliterated the titles of all of our handouts (Strong Sentences, Excerpt Exercise, etc.). I’ve added a new one to that group of handouts and am excited about the possibilities is represents. Introduction Inspection presents students with three introductions that they basically need to grade and then say why. The differences between this and other similar things I’ve done make me think it might actually work.

Times And Handouts

Introduction Inspection HandoutStudents are given a paper with three sample introduction paragraphs on it. They need to identify the high, medium, and low in that set of three (yes, all three levels are present). Then, for each paragraph, they need to list at least two reasons why that paragraph is a high, medium, or low.

  • All Five Introduction Inspections (PDF) (Word)


  1. Students work silently for two minutes to rank these paragraphs on their own.
  2. Four minutes to work with up to three colleagues: Reach consensus on the ranking of each paragraph and move on to provide each paragraph with at least two reasons for the ranking.
  3. Share out.
  4. My first whole-class question is to identify the low paragraph. This almost always works and kids hit that one quickly. I tell them I agree and then ask why it’s a low. We follow this discussion for about another five minutes, branching out to why each paragraph is different than the others, whether that makes the paragraph stronger or weaker.

I start out with a heavy hand here (“No, that actually is a complete sentence, so that’s not a problem,” “I disagree; you can have summary in the intro, it’s just not the only thing you should have”). I am hoping to back off this part of the discussion in the remaining two handouts.


I’m hoping to gradually move students to a point where they can see the difference in the quality of writing without the paragraph screaming out, “HELLO! I have TONS of grammatical errors and I DON’T EVEN MAKE SENSE!” I have a total of five of these handouts for this first time through. I took the writing from their last in-class essay, modifying it a bit in places to create what I need. The first handout is the one with the most obvious distinction between the levels. It gets fuzzier from there until we end up with the exact same paragraph on handouts four and five, just edited to fit those performance levels (high, medium, low). By the end, I have the low as a paragraph that is mostly free of error, makes sense, but still doesn’t do the job because of poor focus, sentence variety, and level of vocabulary.


This activity presents a limited amount of work for students to evaluate. In the past, I’ve had students working on grading entire essays, while this only asks them to focus on a single paragraph. And I’m clear in that there are three performance levels present, making the evaluation a touch easier than without those guidelines. Further, I free the students of actually attaching a letter grade to this, favoring something more like a ranking system. When we finish, students have copies of all of this writing along with reasons for their rankings. We take about twenty minutes total to work on these and only discuss this two days a week. Since I’m spreading out the work over time, I hope to keep them thinking about good and bad writing for the majority of the semester, instead of packing all that thinking into a day or two, concentrated toward the end of a writing unit. I also hope to continue this kind of thing in the future, moving to body paragraphs next (Body Builders?), making our way to conclusions (Concluding Creations?) by the last few grade periods.

What do you think about this? Could you see a way to use something like this for each part of the writing process? Do you see value in this kind of examination of student models? Have you done anything similar?

Comments are closed.