K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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The five features of effective writing
The five Features of Effective Writing — focus, organization, support and elaboration, style, and conventions — are a valuable tool for understanding good writing and organizing your writing instruction. By teaching these features, you can help your students become more effective writers in any genre, at any level, and make your writing instruction easier to manage at the same time. This series of articles, written with the support of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, will show you how.
Format: series (multiple pages)
Practicing elaboration in a problem/solution essay
One theory suggests that students tend to list in an essay because they lack the tools to elaborate. Because they do not have the strategies, they attempt to fill up the empty space by introducing new primary ideas instead of fleshing out the ideas they have already presented. This activity attempts to make students aware of the need to elaborate and to provide students with some workable strategies for elaborating. Using a PowerPoint presentation, the teacher demonstrates the necessity for elaboration in a problem/solution essay. Students then choose a particular point in the PowerPoint presentation to expand through elaboration.
Format: lesson plan (grade 9–10 English Language Arts)
By Margaret Ryan.
About the five features of effective writing
An explanation of the "Five Features of Effective Writing" model (focus, organization, support and elaboration, style, and conventions) with links to detailed articles, lesson plans, and exemplars of student writing.
Format: bibliography/help
Writing exemplars (high school)
Samples of varying levels of performance on different types of writing assignments by high school students, with comments based on the five Features of Effective Writing: focus, organization, support and elaboration, style, and conventions.
Format: tutorial
Maya Angelou: Study and response to "Still I Rise"
Students read biographical information on Maya Angelou and her poem, "Still I Rise." Students identify support and elaboration in poem, then respond by either writing a letter to the author or his/her own poem in response.
Format: lesson plan (grade 7–8 English Language Arts)
By Barbara Groome and Jo Peterson Gibbs.
Creature creation: An elaboration writing activity
This lesson will focus on the writing element of elaboration. It will also tap into higher order thinking skills with the creation of a Coastal Plain imaginary animal and a creative story about the creature. This lesson could be linked to 4th grade Science and Social Studies objectives. For more in-depth knowledge in those other subjects, go to the lesson entitled Researching the Coastal Plain
Format: lesson plan (grade 3–4 English Language Arts and English Language Development)
By Ana Sanders and Heather Ennis.
Sentence carousel
Adjectives, adverbs, and precise language help construct descriptive sentences. In this lesson, students will learn to construct more elaborate sentences that will enliven their writing
Format: lesson plan (grade 3–4 English Language Arts)
By DPI Writing Strategies.
"So what?" details
Students will learn that adding details to a piece of writing doesn't make it better if the details are "So What?" details. Details and elaboration should be related to the main idea and should move the story along in an interesting manner.
Format: lesson plan (grade 3–5 English Language Arts)
By DPI Writing Strategies.
Support and elaboration
In The five features of effective writing, page 4
Support and Elaboration, the third Feature of Effective Writing, is how a writer fleshes out a piece of writing with specific, relevant details.
By Kathleen Cali.
First draft/final draft
Students will compare paragraphs with and without elaboration and descriptive details. They will learn how to revise their own writing by adding descriptive details such as adjectives, adverbs, concrete nouns, and precise verbs.
Format: lesson plan (grade 3–5 English Language Arts)
By DPI Writing Strategies.
Lesson plans for teaching support and elaboration
A collection of LEARN NC's lesson plans for teaching support and elaboration, the third of the five features of effective writing.
Format: bibliography/help
Using RAFT to determine how to write an informational essay
Students will use RAFT as a tool to determine how to write an informational essay. They will also design a graphic organizer for the assignment as well as compose a rough draft. This is the second lesson in a series of three based on the LEARN NC 9th grade writing exemplars.
Format: lesson plan (grade 9 English Language Arts)
By Kim Bowen.
Lesson plans for teaching organization
A collection of LEARN NC's lesson plans for teaching organization, the second of the five features of effective writing.
Format: bibliography/help
Essays of definition: Lively writing through professional models
This lesson examines a professional model of a definition paper and asks students to analyze and imitate the structures of using anecdotes and cause and effect to elaborate an essay of definition.
Format: lesson plan (grade 9–10 English Language Arts)
By Margaret Ryan.
The story of pi
In Critical thinking in science, page 3
In this lesson, students design an experiment to test the importance of decimal places by rounding the value of pi. The collected data is used to answer questions and write a short editorial.
Format: lesson plan (grade 7–8 English Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science)
By Daniell DiFrancesca.
Weaving picture books into narrative writing
Children's picture books are the perfect medium for mini-lessons in narrative writing. Teachers provide books which demonstrate the qualities the students need to develop in their own writing.
Format: lesson plan (grade 4 English Language Arts)
By Jan Caldwell.
Using extended similes to elaborate and add style
Students will analyze a series of extended similes, develop criteria for strong and weak extended similes, and begin using extended similes as a tool for elaboration in their own writing.
Format: lesson plan (grade 9–10 English Language Arts)
By Jennifer Smyth.
The French Revolution: "Those who have and those who have not"
This lesson is part of the French Revolution unit that examines the reigns of the absolute monarchs and the monetary crisis of the French government.
Format: lesson plan (grade 9 Social Studies)
By Kevin Huntley.
Adding support and detail without getting arrested!
This lesson plan is designed to teach students the concept of using facts to support ideas and to interpret (elaborate on) those facts in order to create a synthesized paragraph.
Format: lesson plan (grade 9–12 English Language Arts and Information Skills)
By Bonnie Mcmurray and Julie Joslin.
Plain Polly: Adding relevant details
This instructional technique creates a lasting visual image of how relevant details help develop a character and a focus. Students learn to add only details that are related to the main idea of a “Plain Polly” stick figure. These mascots serve as reminders to students to be selective with the details they use to support their main idea.
Format: lesson plan (grade 3–4 English Language Arts)
By DPI Writing Strategies.