All The Write Pieces

Expository Writing in the Elementary Classroom

The 4Ws of the Writing Classroom

For optimum success our classrooms need these 4 key research-based, dynamic writing practices. Ruth Culham calls them the 4Ws:


  • Writing process: How writing is generated
  • Writing traits: How writing works
  • Writing workshop: The organizational routines of the writing classroom
  • Writing modes: The purposes for writing

Today we'll focus on one mode - Informational

Expository - Informational

  • To explain, describe or inform

Expository writing is NOUN driven.

Inform and tell why:

Example:

WRITE about something that you look forward to doing. Tell what you want to do and explain why you want to do it.

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We'll examine how expository writing works

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Don't correct their papers!

If we teach kids that it has to be perfect, we set them up for failure! It's developmentally inappropriate to expect elementary students to produce perfectly correct papers.

Writing is a process. Help them focus on one improvement at a time, so they can have time to practice.

Students need to write every day and in every subject!

They don't need to produce a formal composition every day.


During one school year about 6 complete formal essays is enough. Students will work on many other pieces that are designed to practice their skills. They may or not ever take those all the way through the writing process to publish.

Give students choice instead of always giving them prompt!

The students should have a ton of time to write what they want to write. When they write about things that matter to them they are more motivated to continue.

Use pictures to inspire writing

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Fake it 'til you make it!

Students feed off of your energy! If you don't love writing, please fake it! They will get discouraged on their own. They need your encouragement every step of the way.

The traits of writing can show students HOW to write.

The mode of writing is What we write. In today's session we will look at informational writing.

The kids need to READ and be READ to!

Mentor texts are your best friend when teaching writing! Teach the kids to examine the writer's craft in every piece you share in class. They will begin to notice during their own reading as well!
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Informational writing- what it is and what it isn't.

What are the traits of great expository writing?
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The piece's content

Its central message and details that support that message
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Mentor Texts

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Take a closer look at Manfish

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Hands-on brainstorming

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Learn to use the rubric

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Do you agree that would score a 1 on our rubric?

Mini-lesson for Narrowing the Topic

Nesting boxes.

Here's a link to resources that we used during an afterschool "camp" to assist kids with narrowing the topic:

http://www.livebinders.com/media/get/MTI5MTcxNTM=

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How does this one score on the rubric?

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MENTOR TEXTS

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Don't you love that title?

Listen to the lead for this book:

The day is quiet. The air is still and hot. Leaves do not move. Flowers droop. Even the birds are still and quiet. There are big white clouds in the sky. They grow bigger and taller. And they get darker and darker. "Look at those black thunderclouds," people say. "We're going to have a thunderstorm."
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Check this one out for the transitions:

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Sharks by Seymour Simon

This book is a great example of a reflection. Check out the way the conclusion reflects back on the lead.

Any books by Seymour Simon will be great mentor texts for expository writing.

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Text Structure

Try this:

1. My opinion

2. One way I know it. (How & Why CAFE)

3. Another way I know it. (How & Why CAFE)

4. My opinion

Teach them to steal!

Send the students on a scavenger hunt to find the best leads and conclusions. They need to explain why they work, and why they like them. You can have the students work on this task during silent reading time, they can collect these "POWER LINES" on bulletin board, or they can have a sentence "smack down." Get them reading to find the author's craft and they will begin to mimic what they read.
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Ruth Culham, author of The Writing Thief, says:

"Good Informational writing should not read like a textbook or an encyclopedia entry; it should read like literature. It should be literature."
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Please Be Safe Sign

Have the students notice signs around the school and then have them rewrite them with voice.


Here's a link to a lesson in which my students added voice to a shopping list:

http://www.livebinders.com/media/get/MTI5MTczMTE=

Create a Connection with the audience:

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This one is a good example of taking a risk ...

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Trading Cards

Look at the Dr. Marla R. Emery, Geographer, card. It shows an example of specific accurate information.


Students could create trading cards for historical figures, authors or famous athletes to practice using specific & accurate information.

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Listen to the word choice from BIG CATS:

by Seymour Simon


The big cats are bundles of muscles ready to spring into action. At rest, they looklike giant pussycats, soft and peaceful. But when they are running, climbing or leaping at their prey, there are few other animals that can match their strength and grace. With claws extended and jaws wide open, the big cats become snarling, slashing hunters. A tiger hits with stunning force and can knock down animals two or three time heavier than itself.

Pitchforking:

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More techniques to try:

Click here to find more practice:

http://www.livebinders.com/media/get/MTI5MTc0MDk=

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Taboo Word Challenge

Make a set of ordinary words taboo for the students, meaning that they cannot use them in their description. They have to use different words than the first that come to mind.


Here's a link to that lesson and a few others for word choice:

http://www.livebinders.com/media/get/MTI5MTc1MDE=

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Revisit these books for sentence fluency

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The Slinky test:

Here are several lessons that make sentence fluency clear for kids:

http://www.livebinders.com/media/get/MTI5MTc0NzM=

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APPLICATION, APPLICATION, APPLICATION!

PRACTICE GRAMMAR DAILY!

The STAAR Revising and Editing is weighted heavily on the test!
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Making time to share is vital!

Powerful Influence

The mentor texts that you share with your students can spark interest in a topic, inspire curiosity to learn more and be a powerful influence on the students' writing. Listen to this interview with author, Seymour Simon:

http://www.readingrockets.org/books/interviews/simon

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