Communicating information: paragraph writing

A TEXAS Paragraph

  • T - Topic Sentence: Answers the question in one short sentence.
  • E - Explanation: Explains the concept(s).
  • X - eXamples: Gives evidence that your answer is correct.
  • A - Ask Yourself: Read your paragraph: have you answered the question? [Don’t write anything; just proofread.] Then Add more Explanation or eXamples if you need to.
  • S - So What?: Why is your answer important?

T - Topic sentence

Tip: Rewrite the question as an answer.

Example:

Q. How did X fight for their rights?

Topic Sentence: Women in New Zealand fought for their rights by writing a petition.

E - Explanation

Tip: Explain the concept word(s) in your topic sentence.

Example:

Many women in New Zealand wanted the right to vote in the 1890s. Having this right means that you can participate in the government of your country and have a voice.

X - eXamples

Tip: Use specific names, dates and places. Use quotes if you can. [Aim for at least three points here.]

Example:

The Suffrage Petition was presented to the New Zealand parliament on 28 July 1893 and had 25,519 signatures on it. [ETC…]

S - So What?

Tip: Write about why this is/was important:

“This was important because…” / “This shows us that…”

Example:

The fight for the right to vote shows us that a group of people can change a country if they are well organised and determined.

Combining concepts

Planning:

  1. Look at the question and pull out the concept word(s)
  2. Write down the concept word(s)
  3. Make a mind map adding concept words; put evidence next to the concept words

For example:

Why did X fight for their right?

Rights = Women’s rights to vote, NZ, 1893

→ To end discrimination e.g. By 1881 all men could vote

→ To gain political empowerment e.g. Two-thirds of women who could, voted in their first election in 1893

Steps to follow:

  1. Now combine your concept words in the topic sentence
  2. Explain the concept words in your explanation
  3. Use your concept words to talk about your examples
  4. Explain what all this tells us about the importance of the concept words

For example:

  • Women in New Zealand fought for their right to vote to gain political empowerment and end discrimination.
  • In the 1880s in New Zealand women were discriminated against in many areas including the right to vote which gives people a voice in their government, and politically empowers them: they can influence what laws are made or changed.
  • An example of discrimination was...
  • This shows us that discrimination can be ended by a group of determined people, and that over time political empowerment can lead to women rising to the position of Prime Minister of New Zealand

Being persausive

Being persuasive is not about 'tricking' people or winning a debate (even though you actually believe the opposite point to be true). It is about being effective in putting forward what you believe to be true based on evidence.

There are three things that can help you with this:

  1. Look for examples outside the context
  2. Deal with counter arguments
  3. Spend time getting the best possible evidence 

1. Look for outside examples

Use concept words to reach out to examples from different places and times. If you are arguing that the right to vote leads to political empowerment then look for multiple examples. You could include South Africa at the end of Apartheid for example. This makes your point stronger because you can show it is true in many situations.

2. Deal with counter arguments

Find someone who disagrees with you. Read their view. Introduce their view into your paragraph and then show how it is wrong (with evidence). For topics in the past look at what the opponents at that time said. Plenty of men were against female suffrage in 1893.  Why? Did their fears come true? Why not?

3. Get the best possible evidence

This is the evidence that proves the point you are making, and not evidence that is just about names and places and dates. If you are saying that getting the vote was politically empowering for women in New Zealand then look for evidence that shows that this was true. This takes longer, but it is much more powerful.

Building an argument

At this point you have so much to say that your paragraph is about two pages long.

This is the point where you can start to write an essay.  An essay allows you to answer the question at length but keep your points clear and organised.

Steps to follow:

  1. Make your mind map of the concepts and include your evidence.
  2. Each of the points out from the centre will be a paragraph by itself.
  3. Write a Topic Sentence and Explanation as you usually would and stop. This is your Introduction.
  4. Start a new paragraph using the TEXAS structure, but base it around your first concept word. Leave out the So What.
  5. When you have completed this paragraph move to a new TEXAS paragraph with the next concept word. Again, leave the So What.
  6. Now write your conclusion as a separate short section. This is the So What?

For example:

  • [Intro] Women in New Zealand fought for their right to vote to gain political empowerment and end discrimination. In the 1880s in New Zealand women were discriminated against in many areas including the right to vote which gives people a voice in their government, and politically empowers them: they can influence what laws are made or changed.
  • [Para 1 Topic Sentence] Women in New Zealand fought for their right to vote to end discrimination.  
  • [Para 2 Topic Sentence] Women in New Zealand fought for their right to vote to gain political empowerment.
  • [Conclusion] This shows us that discrimination can be ended by a group of determined people, and that over time political empowerment can lead to women rising to the position of Prime Minister of New Zealand.
How to cite this page

'Communicating information: TEXAS', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/classroom/skills/communicating-information-paragraph-writing, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 24-Jun-2020

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