Making Your Mark

article by Pamela Thomas , illustrated by Tohby Riddle

Note: This lesson can be used in conjunction with information writing in the learning resource for My Pet Moon in this issue of Countdown.


Learning Intention:

I am learning to identify the features of good paragraph writing so that I can structure my own information text.


Success Criteria:

  • I can label the features of a good paragraph
  • I can write a paragraph with a topic sentence, supporting sentence/s and concluding sentence
  • I can organise my paragraphs into an information text.


Oral language and communication:

View the Australian Curriculum’s webpage on The Good Hamburger. On that page, you can download the resource called Paragraph Writing – Hamburger Model PowerPoint and display it to the class. Ask students what makes a good paragraph in information writing. Ensure students understand that a good paragraph has a topic sentence, supporting facts and a concluding sentence, and that ideas are linked.


Understanding text:

Read aloud the first paragraph below the subheading Just sign here. Have students vote whether they think it’s a good example of a paragraph with thumbs up, thumbs down or thumbs middle if they’re not sure.


Using the hamburger model, sort the paragraph into sections, as below.

Topic sentence: If you press a finger down on a clean sheet of paper, you leave a mark.

Supporting sentence: The mark might be hard to see, but it is there, and you are the only person in the world who can make exactly that mark: it is your fingerprint.

Supporting sentence: If you press the same finger down on a new sheet of paper next week, or next year, or in fifty years’ time, the fingerprint will still be the same.

Concluding sentence: Fingerprints don’t change.


Ask students if the reader can predict the rest of the paragraph from the topic sentence. Some students might argue that the topic sentence is too vague. If they do, invite them to rephrase the topic sentence to make it stronger. An example may be:

If you press a finger down on a clean sheet of paper, you leave a mark called a fingerprint.


In pairs, have students find another good example of a paragraph, with a strong topic sentence, supporting sentence/s and concluding sentence. Have them use the hamburger model to check. Discuss answers with the class.


Creating text:

Explain that students will be writing their own short information report using paragraphs to organise their ideas. Depending on classroom abilities and access to research resources, students can either:

- Have free choice of their topic

- Choose a topic from a broad subject area, such as Australian animals

- Write an imaginative text in the form of an information text for the learning resource for My Pet Moon


Students can research their topic before writing. Remind them that ideas in each paragraph need to be linked – for example, a paragraph describing what a zebra looks like shouldn’t also include what they eat. Encourage them to use the hamburger model when drafting their paragraphs. Less capable students can be given a template of the hamburger model for assistance.


Assessment for/as learning:

Students swap their information report with a peer, who can use the hamburger model to check paragraph structure. Use the descriptors in the Success Criteria as a guide for peer assessment.