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How do you teach expository writing in your classroom? I wish I could do it throughout the year thematically, as we approach different content. We can do that occasionally, but in reality, our district gives a writing assessment on a certain date and I need to prepare students for that writing assessment.
This post is a good overview of our process. Use Familiar Content In second grade, we focus on writing about animals for our expository writing unit. Animals are tangible and easily understood by students. They have certain attributes, do certain things, and reproduce themselves in predictable ways at least the ones we study do!
Think of it like a see saw. Plus, second graders just love learning about different animals and our writing assessments is about an animal. It all ties together. Our expository writing about one animal generally takes about a week, sometimes four days, toward the end of the unit as students become familiar with the routines.
Below is the structure of our week, in general. At the end of the blog post are links to other posts for specific weeks.
Gather Information Day one is all about gathering our information. I elicit input from students and we do some research about the animal. Find out what students know The first thing that I do is sit down with students using a circle map.
We basically do a collective brainstorm about all the information we know about an animal. We do go back and correct our misconceptions as we do our research.
Research Our research stage includes reading an informational article and watching a video or two about the animal. I choose the animal we research based on the well-written informational articles I can find.
Take notes as we go We will usually take notes on our circle map as we read and watch. When we learn something new, we put it below the circle.
When we confirm a fact we knew, we check it off. When we find out we were wrong, we cross it out. I facilitate the taking notes portion because I want to lower the cognitive load for students. This goes back to the see saw I mentioned above. My goal is that students learn to write good expository paragraphs.
I want to focus on the quality of their writing.
Work with the Information On Day 2, we use the information on the circle map and sort our facts. We generally sort by attributes, actions and environment, although for a few animals, I change it up a bit, depending on the focus of the article.
At the beginning of the unit, I create sentences out of our notes and type them into a grid for students to cut apart. Toward the end of the unit, I take a photograph of the circle map and print it up in black and white for students to cut apart.
This goes back to the see saw. Day 3, 4, 5: Write About the Animal One the remaining days of the week, we write our expository paragraphs. Usually, on Day 3, I will highlight a specific piece or structure of the writing that I want students to pay attention to and we practice it before starting our paragraphs.
I focus on things like topic sentences, transition words, or expanding our sentences. Students usually complete a draft of their paragraph on Day 3. As I mentioned above, the process goes faster as students become more and more familiar with it.
This video follows the information in this blog post and provides an overview of a week of writing. These are some blog posts about how we worked through our informational writing unit a couple years ago.Organization "mentor texts" that are focused on during the NNWP's annual 6-Trait Inservice Classes for Teachers: (Visit our 6-Trait Homepage to learn more about our inservice class.).
Each year, the NNWP sponsors a variety of inservice classes and workshops that focus on helping teachers make 6 traits the language of their classrooms during writing instruction. Qualities of strong writing instruction. In order for teachers to support all students' writing ability development, certain qualities of the writing classroom must be present.
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