Topic Sentence Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Use this lesson plan to teach your students how to write engaging topic sentences. View samples, practice identifying topic and controlling ideas, then apply skills with an engaging activity.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • identify reasons for topic sentences
  • explain characteristics of topic sentences
  • locate topic sentences in print
  • identify topic and controlling idea in topic sentence


  • 45 minutes


  • A variety of paragraph samples on students' reading level; some for practice and others cut apart into sentences
  • Glue
  • Chart paper
  • Topic task cards

Key Vocabulary

  • Topic
  • Topic sentence
  • Controlling sentence

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.5.1.a

Introduce a topic or text clearly, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure in which ideas are logically grouped to support the writer's purpose.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.5.2.a

Introduce a topic clearly, provide a general observation and focus, and group related information logically; include formatting (e.g., headings), illustrations, and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.5.3.a

Orient the reader by establishing a situation and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally.


  • Prepare students for learning and engage in the topic by asking them to read a short paragraph that does not contain a topic sentence. Have them write what they think is missing. Share and discuss ideas, then introduce the topic sentence.
  • Explain and define the term. Have students create a heading in their writing notebooks labeled 'Topic Sentences' where they take notes and record definitions.
  • Start our video lesson What is a Topic Sentence? - Examples & Definition.
  • Pause at 0:58. Check for understanding and ask:
    • Why do we use topic sentences?
    • Where are topic sentences typically found?
    • What does a topic sentence include?
  • Resume the video. Pause at 1:36 and review concepts of topic and controlling idea. Restart when students demonstrate understanding.
  • Pause and repeat with the example at 2:00. Pause at 2:10 and ask students to identify the topic and controlling idea. Resume the video and check answers.
  • After the Lesson Summary, check for student understanding. Ask:
    • What is a controlling idea?
    • How is a controlling idea used in a topic sentence?
  • Practice locating topics and controlling ideas with a few more sentences as a class, then allow students to try a few individually.
  • Next, practice locating the topics sentences in text. With students, read a few paragraphs. Locate and highlight the topic sentence.

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