LEARN NC

In this expository writing lesson, students will consider writing elements that will make detailed paragraphs interesting and draft three informative paragraphs.

Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • Consider writing elements that will make detailed paragraphs interesting
  • Plan and draft three informative paragraphs

Teacher planning

Time required

At least two, one-hour time blocks for the whole group are needed (and possibly more time for students to complete their independent writing).

Materials needed

  • Student inventor’s logs or science notebooks
  • Pencils and highlighters

Student handouts

Focusing plan
Open as PDF (14 KB, 1 page; also available as Microsoft Word document)

Expository writing example
Open as PDF (13 KB, 1 page; also available as Microsoft Word document)

Expository writing peer and teacher rubric
Open as PDF (30 KB, 1 page; also available as Microsoft Word document)

Pre-activities

Students should have completed earlier Invention Convention lessons.

Activities

Part one

  1. Previously, the students should have examined a catchy slogan for the Nintendo Wii invention. The teacher should point out that people are making new inventions daily. Often people take for granted the quantity of new and existing inventions that we depend on or enjoy daily. (Subsequently, the example of a Nintendo Wii was chosen because it is familiar to kids of many races, ages, and socio-economic levels — and it is current. Feel free to change this example to meet the needs of your students.)
  2. Assign students to work with a partner to analyze the example expository writing about the invention of the Nintendo Wii. Remind students that analyzing writing means to separate the writing into strategies and figure out why the author used those strategies. Each pair of students will need a copy of the example expository writing. While working, students should:
    • Figure out and write the guiding question for each paragraph.
    • Highlight any strategies the author used to describe the information in the paragraphs.
  3. As a whole group, discuss what the students found. Guiding questions include (or some variation):
    • How does this video game work?
    • Who will be interested in playing the video game?
    • How can a video game make people healthier?

    Hopefully, students will notice the following strategies that were used:

    • Using senses (describing the wand)
    • Anecdote (fourth grader playing video games after school)
    • Real life example (community organizations)
    • Statistics (CNN and number of Wiis sold)
  4. As a whole group, allow students to brainstorm why these strategies are effective. If they are unsure, guide them to understand:
    • Using senses: Description gives readers a clearer understanding
    • Anecdotes: Help people to see themselves using the invention, help people to make a connection
    • Real life examples: Lend credibility and believability
    • Statistics: Help readers understand how big, how small, how many, etc.

    Remind the students that these are strategies they should use when writing ad developing their informative paragraphs.

Part two

  1. Explain to students that they will plan their paragraphs, draft their paragraphs, and eventually edit their paragraphs with a partner.
  2. Review the strategies that students can use when planning and writing their paragraphs. Challenge them to include each strategy at least once in their paragraphs.
  3. Allow students the time needed to plan and draft their paragraphs on notebook paper. This could take several writing blocks.

Assessment

  • Prior to beginning their first drafts, students should check in with the teacher. The teacher should spot check and question to see if students have included an anecdote about their invention or a statistic. If students have not used the strategies to develop their paragraphs, the teacher should work with the student to include these details in their plan prior to the student beginning to draft.
  • Once the draft is finished and revised, the student will work with a peer to use a rubric to ensure that the student has met the goals for this lesson. The teacher will use the same standards from the rubric when evaluating the piece for assessment.

Modifications

The teacher will need to individually differentiate for their ELL students. Some possibilities for modifications include:

  • Work on one paragraph each day. Start by having a conversation with the student and generating as many needed words as possible. Keep a list of the words, perhaps illustrated with pictures, for the student to refer back to. The student can talk through their plan while an adult or a trained student scribes the plan. (This eliminates a non-essential part of this lesson.)
  • If a student is able to communicate basic ideas using simple English and basic sentence construction, the teacher could focus on using sentence variation strategies. Instead of starting each sentence with “it” or “the invention,” the teacher can help the student use different beginnings for their sentences.
  • For more advanced students, the teacher can help the student understand the differences between present tense and future tense. In this type of expository writing, the student will often describe what the invention can do in the present tense and what will happen with the invention in the future tense. This can be confusing. Together, the teacher and student can choose sentences and identify whether the sentences needs present tense or future tense.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • Writing

        • Grade 4
          • 4.W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly. 4.W.2.1 Introduce a topic clearly and group related information in paragraphs and sections; include formatting (e.g., headings), illustrations, and multimedia...
          • 4.W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1–3 above.)
          • 4.W.5 With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 4

  • Goal 4: The learner will apply strategies and skills to create oral, written, and visual texts.
    • Objective 4.06: Compose a draft that conveys major ideas and maintains focus on the topic with specific, relevant, supporting details by using preliminary plans.
    • Objective 4.07: Compose fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama using self-selected and assigned topics and forms (e.g., personal and imaginative narratives, research reports, diaries, journals, logs, rules, instructions).