TRIAC

TRIAC
For a printable copy, click here:TRIAC

A number of years ago, a fellow teacher introduced me to the TRIAC method of paragraph organization. I must say that I cannot remember the name of the colleague and do not know where she learned this method, but I have been teaching it to my classes ever since, and students have been enthusiastic about it. I hope you will be, too. As you learn about this method of formatting a paragraph, remember that just as the Classical Oration format is just one method of developing an essay, the TRIAC is just one method out of many of developing a paragraph.

The letters in the made-up term “TRIAC” stand for parts in a paragraph. These parts might be sentences or they could be chunks several sentences long, as you will see in my examples. Here are the letters, what they stand for, and some “key terms” that often appear at the beginning of the sentence or “chunk” corresponding to the letter.

T= Topic. This is the topic sentence of the paragraph. It announces the focus of the paragraph and acts as a “mini-thesis” statement for what follows.

R=Restriction. This is a sentence or two that narrows the scope of the paragraph. It restates the topic sentence in different—more specific—terms and sets the “direction” the paragraph is taking the reader. Key Terms: In fact, In other words,

I=Illustration. Here the writer gives evidence to support the topic. In this section, there would be facts, examples, statistics, quotes from authorities, and so forth. Key Terms: For example, For instance, As an illustration,

A=Analysis. In the analysis section of the paragraph, the writer explains to the reader why the evidence in the illustration supports the topic and restriction sentences. This is an extremely important part of the paragraph, but unfortunately, it is the one most students leave out. Thinking, perhaps, that the example will convince their readers, they fail to explain why the example is important. Key Terms: This is important because…., The significance of this is…

C=Conclusion. This last sentence is often part of the analysis section. It helps the reader understand that the focused topic has been sufficiently discussed and that the report will move on to a new topic. The possible key phrase, “in conclusion” would usually be too strong for the last sentence of a paragraph.

It’s important to remember that the “key terms” are sometimes left out of the paragraph completely in order to help the paragraph flow smoothly. In addition, after you get some practice in the TRIAC format, you’ll find that it becomes a little “clunky.” Writing “In fact” or “This is important because….” In each paragraph will eventually sound stale and contrived. And in addition, sometimes it’s better to combine the Topic and the Restriction into one sentence.

For now, thought as your do your first few practice runs at the TRIAC, you should follow it carefully, keeping the key terms in. Then when you feel comfortable, start experimenting by leaving off the key terms and by combining some of the parts.

For now, let’s look at three student paragraphs written in TRIAC format: Topic, Restriction, Illustration, Analysis, Conclusion

Example Paragraph #1

In today’s business world, it is increasingly difficult to keep the ethics of a neighborhood “mom and pop” type of store and develop a multi-unit business. In fact, it seems that as businesses grow, they become less and less able to keep small store ethics. For example, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream company had such a problem that .. [This might go on relating Ben and Jerry’s experiences.]…. The significance of their experience is that growth demands more than a simple person-to person handshake and cheerful, honest owner. An increase in employees, suppliers, and customers requires superior management and more far-reaching and complex ethical techniques. (The conclusion would depend on what came next in the report.)

TRIAC PARAGRAPH BROKEN DOWN BY PARTS

Topic- In today’s business world, it is increasingly difficult to keep the ethics of a neighborhood “mom and pop” type of store and develop a multi-unit business.
Restriction– In fact, it seems that as businesses grow, they become less and less able to keep small store ethics.
Illustration– For example, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream company had such a problem that .. [This might go on relating Ben and Jerry’s experiences.]….
Analysis– The significance of their experience is that growth demands more than a simple person-to person handshake and cheerful, honest owner. An increase in employees, suppliers, and customers requires superior management and more far-reaching and complex ethical techniques.
Conclusion – (The conclusion would depend on what came next in the report.)

Example Paragraph #2

Although many books have already been published online, reading them is still very inconvenient. That is, you can’t take your computer to the beach or read lying in bed very easily. But that will soon change. For example, according to David H. Rothman in his article for U.S. News & World Report (1998), technicians at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a computer that is shaped like a book, with flipable pages. Within five years, we may have complete public libraries online on these MIT “book” computers. This is important news because these libraries may help raise the level of literacy in the country. They will also make proofreading your own writing easier on the page-like screen. Best of all, you’ll be able to take your favorite novel, lie down on a blanket in the park, and read again with pleasure.

TRIAC PARAGRAPH BROKEN DOWN BY PARTS
TOPIC
Although many books have already been published online, reading them is still very inconvenient.

RESTRICTION
That is, you can’t take your computer to the beach or read lying in bed very easily. But that will soon change.

ILLUSTRATION
For example, according to David H. Rothman in his article for U.S. News & World Report (1998), technicians at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a computer that is shaped like a book, with flipable pages. Within five years, we may have complete public libraries online on these MIT “book” computers.

ANALYSIS & CONCLUSION
This is important news because these libraries may help raise the level of literacy in the country. They will also make proofreading your own writing easier on the page-like screen. Best of all, you’ll be able to take your favorite novel, lie down on a blanket in the park, and read again with pleasure.

PARAGRAPH #2 WITHOUT KEY TERMS

Although many books have already been published online, reading them is still very inconvenient. You can’t take your computer to the beach or read lying in bed very easily. But that will soon change. According to David H. Rothman in his article for U.S. News & World Report (1998), technicians at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a computer that is shaped like a book, with flipable pages. Within five years, we may have complete public libraries online on these MIT “book” computers. These libraries may help raise the level of literacy in the country. They will also make proofreading your own writing easier on the page-like screen. Best of all, you’ll be able to take your favorite novel, lie down on a blanket in the park, and read again with pleasure.

Example Paragraph #3
PARAGRAPH WITHOUT KEY TERMS

Notice that parts of the TRIAC do not necessarily have to be sentences. They could be charts, stories, or, as in this next paragraph, bulleted lists.

Advanced communication technology in American submarines helps the force compete for scarce funds with other parts of the military. The unique capabilities of the subs are especially needed in surveillance of surface ships and coastal areas and in protecting aircraft carriers from undersea threats. In a Special Report in the April 6, 1998 issue of U.S. News and World Report, Richard J. Newman tells readers that today’s “Subs eaves-drop on radio traffic, drop off and retrieve teams of Navy SEAL special-operation forces, shadow drug traffickers—any mission that requires stealth and silence.” Some of the communication technology used by subs are:
In the stern:
• long-range listening devices
• sonar transducers
In the sail:
• small attack periscope
• large anti-radar periscope with video cameras
• floating wire antenna to receive short signals
• multipurpose antenna masts
In the nose:
• sonar sphere with nearly 1,000 passive sensor hydrophones
• fiberglass sound-passing nose cone
Each of these audio and visual technologies is important to the mission of the submarine force in protection and offensive maneuvers. As we decide how to spend decreasing military funds, we should consider making certain an adequate share goes into technical communications for our submarine force.

TRIAC PARAGRAPH BROKEN DOWN BY PARTS

TOPIC
Advanced communication technology in American submarines helps the force compete for scarce funds with other parts of the military.

RESTRICTION
The unique capabilities of the subs are especially needed in surveillance of surface ships and coastal areas and in protecting aircraft carriers from undersea threats.


ILLUSTRATION

In a Special Report in the April 6, 1998 issue of U.S. News and World Report, Richard J. Newman tells readers that today’s “Subs eaves-drop on radio traffic, drop off and retrieve teams of Navy SEAL special-operation forces, shadow drug traffickers—any mission that requires stealth and silence.” Some of the communication technology used by subs are:
In the stern:
• long-range listening devices
• sonar transducers
In the sail:
• small attack periscope
• large anti-radar periscope with video cameras
• floating wire antenna to receive short signals
• multipurpose antenna masts
In the nose:
• sonar sphere with nearly 1,000 passive sensor hydrophones
• fiberglass sound-passing nose cone

ANALYSIS & CONCLUSION
Each of these audio and visual technologies is important to the mission of the submarine force in protection and offensive maneuvers. As we decide how to spend decreasing military funds, we should consider making certain an adequate share goes into technical communications for our submarine force.

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