Taking something familiar from real life, can often help students to understand the big picture of what they are supposed to do.

There’s a commercial on TV for a popular fast-food restaurant that shows someone eating a huge, juicy hamburger with all kinds of stuff – cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, sauce, pickles – spilling out as he bites down. And the point is that this ISN’T any old boring hamburger, but this one is really juicy and special (a.k.a. messy).

We sometimes use the analogy of a loaded hamburger to help students understand how a multi-paragraph paper is organized.

The whole hamburger represents the overall topic or focus of the paper – what it’s all about.

The top and bottom bun represent the introduction and the conclusion. These are the first and last paragraphs in the paper, and while they don’t look exactly the same, they are basically made of the same stuff.

The top bun, or the introductory paragraph introduces the reader to the topic and gives just enough information to get the reader interested in reading on.

The concluding paragraph is like the bottom bun. It is the last paragraph and has basically the same content as the introduction. It restates and wraps up the topic.

Everything in between the introduction and conclusion – the meat and all the condiments – make up the body of the paper, each being a different key point. Each one gets its own paragraph (or paragraphs) to describe or explain it’s overall contribution to the whole topic.

Try getting a large picture of a hamburger. Draw a line next to the top and bottom bun on the left hand side. Here, the student can put his ideas for the introduction and conclusion.

On the right hand side, draw lines out from the meat, cheese, tomatoes, etc. The student can jot down the key points of the paper on these lines in the order he wants to present them.

Using the hamburger as a guide, now he has a structure with which to write a paragraph or a simple multi-paragraph paper that will have an introduction, body/details, and conclusion.

Give it a try..and then maybe eat a hamburger for dinner!