Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Fact or Fiction - What Is Expository Writing?

Carol Rine
Bay District Schools

Description

This is the first lesson in a unit on expository writing called Info Expo. Students take a pre-test, compare and contrast various forms of writing with a Venn diagram, and explore the various formats for expository writing.

Objectives

The student compiles information using an organizer (for example, a spreadsheet).

The student classifies and records information (for example, using note cards, data files).

The student knows possible prewriting strategies for different writing tasks.

The student uses a prewriting strategy suitable for the task (for example, brainstorming, using a graphic organizer, listing ideas).

Materials

{NOTE: Many of the handouts mentioned below are contained in the associated file for this lesson. They are readily available for downloading and printing.}

{NOTE: If using all the lessons in the unit, it would be a good idea to review the number of days required in the library and reserve those days now. Sometimes library time is a commodity.}

DAY ONE
Teacher
-Pre-test Answer Key (see Extensions)
Student
-Pre-test (see Extensions)

DAY TWO
Teacher
{NOTE: The following instructional tools work best if used in a full-class display method, for example, overhead projector, whiteboard, chart tablet, or television screen. I made transparencies of the tools and used an overhead projector.}
-Teacher-gathered expository writing sample, for example, a newspaper, magazine, or encyclopedia article
-Teacher-gathered narrative writing sample, for
example, a folk tale, short story, or myth
-Venn diagram (printed in a display format such as transparency)
Student
-Writing prompt: Compare and Contrast Two Forms of Writing
-Expository Writing Rubric (see Extensions)
-Venn diagram (one copy for each student)

DAY THREE
Teacher
-Formats for Expository Writing Graphic Organizers Transparencies
-2 sets of teacher-gathered writing samples: 1 set of five that matches the graphic organizer formats for the read-aloud and 1 set of five samples that matches the five expository formats for group work {NOTE: This group activity is extremely effective when the sample is about the same topic but has been written in the five different formats.}
Student
-Formats for Expository Writing Graphic Organizers - copies for groups
-Teacher-gathered writing samples for expository writing formats

Preparations

Print and download the associated files for this lesson. The teacher should gather and prepare all other items for the lessons as needed. Handouts not found in the files attached to this lesson can be found in the Unit Plan, Info Expo. Please see Weblinks.

Teacher Materials
-Pre-test Answer Key
-Teacher-gathered expository writing sample, for example, a newspaper, magazine, or encyclopedia article
-Teacher-gathered narrative writing sample, for example, a folk tale, short story, or myth
-Venn diagram
-Formats for Expository Writing Graphic Organizers
-Copy graphic organizers as transparencies
-2 sets of teacher-gathered writing samples: 1 set of five that matches the graphic organizer formats for the read-aloud and 1 set of five samples that matches the five expository formats for group work {NOTE: This group activity is extremely effective when the sample is about the same topic but has been written in the five different formats.}

Student Materials
-Pre-test (see Extensions)
-Formats for Expository Writing Graphic Organizers - copies for groups
-Teacher gathered writing samples for expository writing formats
-Writing prompt: Compare and Contrast Two Forms of Writing
-Expository Writing Rubric

Procedures

This is the first lesson in an online unit entitled Info Expo. This initial lesson is an introduction to expository writing. All students are required to write in this format for the formal writing assessments required by Florida (FCAT). This lesson provides students with an introduction to this format. Teachers across subject areas and grade levels might use this lesson to support their own research units. Also, this is the framework of the unit. The teacher needs to provide context for the learning by assigning a subject(s) for study such as mythology. This lesson plan spans three or more sessions.

BACKGROUND KNOWLEDGE REQUIRED BY STUDENTS:
WRITING-Students beginning this unit should already come prepared with a strong background in writing. In my own classroom, this unit follows a unit where students have already explored the six traits (idea, voice, organization, conventions, word choice, sentence fluency) or qualities of good writing. Students are experienced with the writing process and with publishing writing.

COMPARISON/CONTRAST-Students should also have previous knowledge of comparing and contrasting elements across texts.

DAY ONE: PRE-TEST

In Class
1) Introduce students to the name of the unit, Info Expo, but do not define expository writing at this point.

2) Describe the steps students work through to complete a research paper, first collaboratively and then independently.

3) Prepare students for the pre-test. Explain that the pre-test determines what the students know already. This is a no stakes test.

4) Administer the test. It averages approximately 45 minutes. Extend it into the next session if necessary. When the test is completed, collect it.

Teacher
1) Score the pre-tests.

2) Determine the sections where the majority of students demonstrate mastery. If any sections have been mastered, review the course of instruction and omit any unnecessary instruction. Return the pre-tests to the students; allow time for students to evaluate their knowledge. Likely, students will fair poorly on the pre-test. This immediately confirms the need for the upcoming unit. Collect the tests when students have completed their reflections. Return the pre-tests again at the conclusion of the four week unit after the students have taken the post-test (a modified version of the pre-test). When the students are reflecting upon their growth, they use their pre-tests and post-tests to make judgments about their learning.

DAY TWO: INTRODUCTION TO EXPOSITORY WRITING

In Class
{NOTE: Use a display method for the following instructional tools. I use the overhead projector with transparencies.}
1) Distribute Venn diagram to every student. Review the use of Venn as an organizer for comparing and contrasting information.

2) Using the overhead, show the class an example of expository writing that is very strong. Find such an example in newspapers, encyclopedias, magazines, journals, etc. Do not reveal to students what type of writing this is.

3) Read the sample article aloud. Discuss the qualities of the writing. Guide the discussion to explore elements such as contains facts, ideas, and explanations.

4) Ask students to list the qualities for this piece of writing on their Venn diagrams in the left section.

5) In contrast, show students a sample of narrative writing. Find such an example in a folk tale, short story, or myth. Again, discuss the elements of this writing. Guide discussion to explore characteristics such as creative, story-like, poetic, fantastic, etc. Again, do not reveal to students what type of writing this is.

6) Ask students to list the qualities for this piece of writing on their Venn diagrams in the right section.

7) Ask students to note similarities and differences between the two samples. To conclude, have the students fill in the overlapping region with similarities between the two forms of writing.

8) When students finish, reveal the two forms of writing. Review their characteristics, and explain the nature of the unit and its primary focus -- expository writing. Explain that students work through a research simulation in groups as a practice. They write their own research papers at the conclusion of the unit.

9) Review the Venn diagram and the characteristics of expository writing. Explain the link between the Venn diagram and prewriting. Assign a practice writing assignment as follows.

10) Preview writing assignment for class/homework. Distribute the Expository Writing Rubric. Explain to students that this is the rubric to score their papers at the close of the unit; however, they should review it at every opportunity to ensure their writing is on track. For example, they should consider it before creating their writing assignment for the evening's homework. Distribute the writing prompt:Compare and Contrast Two Forms of Writing. Deliver assignment.

11) ASSIGNMENT: Students review the writing rubric. Students write one paragraph or more comparing and contrasting the two types of writing, expository and narrative, examined in class today. Direct the students to underline words taken directly from the Venn diagram. They are encouraged to use these words from the Venn. This again emphasizes the link between prewriting and the diagram. It also makes this assignment easy to score for the teacher. The teacher looks for the underlined words. The teacher needs to collect the Venn diagrams and the writing at the next session to use as a formative assessment. The teacher makes judgments as to whether students have a strong understanding of the six traits or qualities of strong writing at this point. If students struggle in any way, revisit the writing process before proceeding with the research unit.

DAY THREE: FORMS OF EXPOSITORY WRITING

In Class
1) Collect the homework writing assignment and place aside for later assessment. Review the characteristics of expository writing examined during class the previous day. Explain to students that there are different forms of expository writing. List and describe them for the students. The different forms are description, sequence, comparison and contrast, cause and effect, and problem and solution. Students explore these during today's lesson.

2) Using the overhead projector, discuss and display the five different graphic organizers. Read an example of each type of writing while displaying the organizers. For example, read a description of an animal from an encyclopedia and display the graphic organizer for description.

3) Follow the same method for discussing and displaying each of the five formats for expository writing.

4) Assign students to groups. Groups of four work well; however, choose what works best for your classroom. Distribute group copies of the five different graphic organizers. Then distribute group copies of five different writing samples that the teacher has gathered. The teacher should select a sample written in each of the formats, for example, one for description, one for sequence, etc. These samples should be different from the samples used to model the correlation between the organizers and the writing formats. This group activity is extremely effective when the sample is about the same topic but has been written in the five different formats.

5) Students work within their groups to determine which organizer matches which writing sample. The teacher observes groups at work and facilitates discussion when questions arise.

6) Give the groups adequate time to match the organizers to the writing samples. When time is up, have the groups report one at a time. For example, have Group 1 report on ONE of the organizers and its match. Require the group members to justify their reasons for matching the writing and the organizer. Group 2 then reports on a different organizer and its match. The process continues until each group has reported and discussion covers all the writing formats at length.

Teacher
Record observational notes during the group reports. If there are any groups that struggle or develop misconceptions during the process, assign them further practice using graphic organizers and the different writing formats.

Assessments

These formative assessments lead to larger summatives at the end of the unit Info Expo.

The Venn diagram activities formatively assess the student's ability to:
-use a prewriting strategy
-compile information using an organizer
-compare and contrast elements within or across texts (which has been summatively assessed in an earlier unit)
-knows possible prewriting strategies for different writing tasks

The group activity with the various writing formats formatively assesses the student's ability to:
-compare and contrast elements within or across texts (which has been summatively assessed in an earlier unit)
-knows possible prewriting strategies for different writing tasks

FOR SCORING:

Venn diagram--To assess if student is successful and to what level, check the Venn diagram for accurately listing items in the correct places. Also look at the underlined words within the paragraph to make certain they are from the Venn diagram.

Group activity with writing formats: To assess if student is successful and to what level, note and record that groups match the organizers to the writing samples correctly. Also, in the reporting section of the activity, group members should begin taking ownership of the vocabulary for the concepts, for example, comparison/contrast. Any misconceptions or conceptual difficulties should be addressed immediately.

Extensions

Other activities this can lead into are outlining, creating a mini-encyclopedia, working up a bulletin board display of the expository information, or hosting a student radio/talk show to discuss the information.

The best way to integrate the subject areas with this lesson is to work with a teacher in the science or social studies area and supplement their units by focusing the research of this lesson to their needs.

There are interactive student-oriented Web lessons that complement this unit. Please see Weblinks.

The Beacon Unit Plan associated with this lesson can be viewed by clicking on the link located at the top of this page or by using the following URL: http://www.beaconlearningcenter.com/search/details.asp?item=2964. Once you select the unitís link, scroll to the bottom of the unit plan page to find the section, Associated Files. This section contains links to the Unit Plan Overview, Diagnostic and Summative Assessments, and other associated files (if any).

Web Links

This Weblink can be used to assist students as they work through the research and writing process.
Which Writing is Right

Use to assist students as necessary.
Information Elimination

Use to assist students as necessary.
If Youíve Seen One Source, Youíve Seen Them All, Right?

Use this interactive Student Web Lesson to assist students as necessary.
Paraphrase Craze

Use to assist students as necessary.
Bibliography Blunders

Attached Files

Included are the hand-outs necessary for this lesson.†††††File Extension: pdf

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