No matter whether I find the five-paragraph theme paper to be exciting or not, I can definitely recognize its use in the classroom. Students must learn how to come up with a thesis, have supporting statements, and provide research/information that backs up their assertion. I agree with those who purport that the FTP is limiting; to only teach this form to students is a serious disfavor. But once we have taught students to organize their thinking, there are many different forms of writing we can expand to. Teachers need to quit being afraid of the student who has more than three valid arguments, or maybe only has two very strong arguments. The point of the FTP is to enhance students critical-thinking skills and to help them understand ways to strengthen their information. Relying primarily on this form, however, will have the directly opposite effect.
One idea I had while reading was to start by teaching students to write the FTP. From that point, we would explore other forms of writing but use the original FTP as a starting point. Using the information and writing from the FTP, students could explore how to modify this writing into poetry, prose, a performance piece, etc. Eventually they could put together a multi-genre research paper from all of the artifacts they create.
This is a great resource for a high school writing teacher. The entire publication is written by teens, there is an actual paper/magazine that comes out to the classrooms if subscribed. But many great resources for students and teachers...and a great place for students to publish material!