How to Write an Introduction to an Essay

How to Write an Introduction Lesson Plan


The introduction of an essay must capture the readers’ attention and introduce the topic.


Common Core Standards for Teaching How to Write an Introduction

Teaching about essay introductions and grabbing the reader’s attention satisfies the following common core standards.

W.9-10.2a  Introduce a topic; organize complex ideas, concepts, and information to make important connections and distinctions; include formatting (e.g., headings); graphics (e.g., figures, tables); and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.

W.9-10.2b Develop the topic with well-chosen, relevant, and sufficient facts, extended definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples appropriate to the audience’s knowledge of the topic.

W.9-10.3a  Engage and orient the reader by setting out a problem, situation, or observation, establishing one or multiple point(s) of view, and introducing a narrator and/or characters; create a smooth progression of experiences or events.

W.9-10.4  Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

How to Capture the Readers’ Attention

There are several methods to capturing the reader’s attention.

  1. Quotation: One that sums up the essay would be nice.
  2. Definition: Use sparingly. Too many amateur writers use this method.
  3. Question: Ask a question in the introduction…and answer it in the body.
  4. Problem: Pose a problem in the introduction…and solve it in the body.
  5. Statistics: Make sure they’re actual statistics and not something you made up on the way to the library.
  6. Comparison: Take something the reader is unfamiliar with and relate it to something they are familiar with.
  7. Metaphor/Simile: An even more effective comparison for making the complex seem simple.
  8. Shocker: Everybody likes surprises. Unfortunately, it’s getting harder to shock people.
  9. Summary: A brief summary piques reader interest.
  10. Anecdote: A short humorous story relevant to the topic eases the reader into the material.
  11. Expert opinion: An expert gives you instant credibility with the reader. Make sure the expert is an actual expert and not your Uncle Fred from Topeka.

The Thesis Statement

The thesis statement is the most important part of the essay introduction.  Discuss the following thesis statement information with the class.

  •     It introduces the topic in a structured manner.
  •     It appears as the last sentence of the introduction.
  •     It contains a subject and an opinion.
  •     In a persuasive essay it must take a stand.

If you feel more guidance is needed, check out this more detailed look at thesis statements.

The Assignment

Copy the following sentences on the board and instruct students to identify them as thesis statements or non thesis statements.

  1.     Romeo and Juliet was written by William Shakespeare. (no)
  2.     Shakespeare uses irony effectively in Romeo and Juliet. (yes)
  3.     The death penalty should be abolished. (yes)
  4.     The death penalty is legal in 49 states (no)
  5.     English is my favorite subject (yes)
  6.     Science is boring (yes)

Another Assignment

Once students recognize thesis statements, they’re ready to create them.

  1. Write a topic on the board.
  2. Instruct students to write a hook for the topic using each of the above methods.
  3. Read and discuss.

Make this lesson a challenge similar to the paragraph challenge for some competitive fun.

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