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Writing Introductions for Discussion Board Posts

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Problem: You have to write a discussion post, but only have a certain amount of words/characters you are able to use. You know you need an introduction, so that your reader is not confused, but you aren’t quite sure how to draft one given the limited amount of characters and space you can use to draft a discussion post. But have no fear! In this post you will learn how to draft a perfectly acceptable three-sentence introduction for this type of assignment in no time!

Writing Introductions for Discussion Board Posts

Solution: It is perfectly acceptable to write a 3 sentence introduction To do this, the Walden University Writing Center specialists are here to help you learn about code shifting. Code shifting is the ability to change our writing based on what we are writing.

Code Shifting
Say you have a bad day at work. Your boss was mean. Your sandwich was soggy. Your coffee was cold. Is the text you write to your best friend complaining about this the same as the text you would write to your mother? To your grandmother? To a workmate?

Doubt it. Grandma needs a little less slang, best friend can understand emojis and abbreviations, and mom prefers to speak on the phone. The point of this is that we all have different communication methods when we are communicating in different ways. Writing is no different. Sure, you need an introduction for that discussion board post you can only use 500 words in. But it doesn’t need to be a full-scale academic introduction with 7-8 sentences and a problem statement. 

This is where your code shifting comes into play. You will want to use the strong writing skills you already have to master the more concise writing that takes place on a discussion board. So How Do You Do This?

First: Outline Your Ideas
One of the biggest things we see in the Writing Center when students are working on shorter documents is that they have a lot to say! And rightfully so! However, when you write out everything and go back and edit it you end up losing a lot of time that could be spent with your family, friends, sleeping, or even on other assignments. Outlining your ideas first will make sure you understand what the most important issues are that you need to touch on, allow you to omit some of the more minor issues, and it will give you a sense of direction for this discussion board post, which means you will do less work overall. Hooray!

Second: Write Your Body Paragraphs
Say what you have to say in your first draft. This is a little bit different than how you may do some of your other writing, but allowing yourself to see the focus of the body of your post will allow you to not only have a more focused and targeted thesis statement, but it will allow you to see what is needed and what is not needed before you go into your second round of drafting: actually writing your thesis statement/introduction.

Third: Read Your Body Paragraphs TwiceFlip your paper over, cover your monitor, close your eyes (if you can write with your eyes closed) and see how you can summarize all of the wonderful things you covered in your body paragraphs in one sentence. This should give you an idea of what your thesis statement is going to be.

Last: Re-read Your Body Paragraphs
Re-read the thesis statement you drafted. See how you can add a topic sentence and even, possibly, a lead-in sentence that moves your reader from your topic sentence to your thesis statement. It is completely acceptable to have a three-sentence introduction for a discussion board post! In fact, it is advised, as it allows you to spend more time and space on the ideas that matter the most in your post, while still giving your reader the direction they need. Some people can even swing this type of introduction in two sentences. It may be something you want to play with—but I would say start with 3 sentences first, and see how that goes.

And, Voila! You now have an introduction, topic sentence and thesis statement for a discussion board post. You have saved an hour or so in your writing/drafting due to outlining first. And your reader knows exactly what your post is about and gets a lot of valuable information due to you drafting such a focused and specific discussion board introduction. Go you!

Stay tuned for a future post on how to draft a conclusion statement (instead of a full-on conclusion) for discussion board posts. I promise to save you even more time with the next set of tips! We'll update this space with a link when the post goes live in the near future. 

Meghan K Barnes author image

Meghan K Barnes holds a BFA in Professional Writing & English, an MFA in Nonfiction Literature, and a MAT in Post-Secondary Adult Online Education. These degrees lead to multiple opportunities including a Fulbright Scholarship to study the nonfiction work of Sylvia Plath in England, three Pushcart Prize Nominations, and four book publications.

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