The Problem Solving Teacher

How to Use an Inspiring Persuasive Mentor Text to Teach Persuasive Writing

Mentor texts are a valuable learning tool for writing lessons, especially persuasive writing.  Students often have lots of exposure to narratives and expository/informational literature, but not as much familiarity with persuasive texts.  Exposing students to persuasive mentor texts adds so much to your writing lessons.

A persuasive mentor text can show our students how to write well, not just tell them how to write.  Students learn better when they have a model or example to follow.  When you use great mentor texts to use in your classroom you are giving your students some of the best authors to emulate.  Students are more willing to try new things and take risks after seeing what techniques authors have used and then trying them in their own work.  It can also support us as teachers when we want to teach new things because we have a great model to support our lesson.

Mentor texts show our students what writing looks like in the real world.  Have you ever had a curriculum that wants you to dive so deep into writing that the lessons are long, boring, and everyone is lost?  I have.  Sometimes curriculums complicate writing too much. When we see what students need to know in the real world it can help us create better lessons to have more successful students.

One thing I have come to believe over the years is that sharing is the most important step of the writing process.  Students need to share their writing and hear other people’s writing.  A persuasive mentor text is a great way to share excellent writing with your students and build a writing community that shares writing.  We need to connect our classroom communities with a larger community of writers.

How to Pick a Persuasive Mentor Text

I always loved the idea of teaching with mentor texts, but I’d often felt like I wouldn’t be able to find a good persuasive mentor text to support my lesson, so instead, I’d avoid it.  There isn’t a perfect mentor text out there, but there are lots of good ones, and finding them doesn’t have to be as hard as you think.  Here are some things to consider when you are looking for a persuasive mentor text.

  1. Purpose

What is your purpose?  Why are you showing students a mentor text?  Here are a few things that could be your purpose: teach a specific writing technique, show students what type of writing they will be working on, inspire and engage students, or show students more than one way to write something.

In persuasive writing a few things that might be your purpose are teaching a hook, stating a thesis or claim, using evidence, addressing counterarguments, creating a call to action, or looking at persuasive words.

  1. Determine Your Audience

Task, purpose, and audience are an important part of writing and teaching writing.  Who are you trying to teach with this mentor text?  The persuasive mentor text you pick could be meant to teach the whole class, a small group, one student, or another teacher.  Your mentor text needs to be a book that will help support your audience.

  1. Search for a Persuasive Mentor Text

You will develop places that you will go to for a persuasive mentor text when you need one.  Once you know the purpose of the text and who it’s for you can start your search for the right one.  We will talk about where to search for persuasive mentor texts in a few minutes.

  1. Engage Your Audience

Pick a persuasive mentor text that will engage your audience.   An engaging mentor text will usually have some of the following qualities, but not all of them.  These qualities are meant to give you an idea of what to look for when you want an engaging persuasive mentor text.  

  • Fresh off the press.  Newer books often speak to kids in a modern way.
  • Relevant to your purpose.  We talked about purpose above.
  • Your students can read and understand it.
  • Well written using strong structure and great language.
  1. Teacher Approved

The mentor text you pick should be one that you find inspiring and engaging.  It should be a book that you think is good and your students will learn from.  It’s hard to teach from a book you don’t believe in.  It’s hard to teach using a book that will not meet your unique group of students’ needs.  It doesn’t matter how many other people or websites say a book is a good persuasive mentor text if you don’t think it’s good too.

Where to Find a Persuasive Mentor Text

The thing that I find the most difficult about finding persuasive mentor texts is where to look.  I don’t have time to go to the library and read all the books to find what I’m looking for.  It’s not feasible.  There are so many options of places to look.

  1. Google

A focused Google search can help you find mentor texts.  Sometimes it can take a lot of sifting to find a persuasive writing text that matches your purpose.  Don’t forget to check the images tab when you search.

Once you have a decent list of books to consider you can read through a few of these to see if there is one that would work well for your class and purpose.

  1. Social Media

Teachers love talking about books.  Search social media using hashtags and see what you find.  Ask in your social media communities, like Facebook groups, and see what answers you get.  Lots of teachers on Twitter are talking about mentor texts so don’t forget to check there too.

  1. Your Library

Whenever you are searching for mentor texts, reading books to your class, or talking with other teachers you are bound to come across a lot of great ideas, even if they aren’t right for your current lesson.  Files these ideas away into your own mentor text library.  Download them, bookmark them, print them, and record them on a spreadsheet so you have your own library of mentor texts.

  1. Check Award Winners

There is The Master Review which is a short story award.  You can check Pulitzer Prize books or the Caldecott Medal.  These sites have lots of great literature, but they might not be right for what you are teaching your students.  Again this is a good place to start your search

  1. Peers

Students can learn a lot from their peers.  Keep work your past students have written to show your future students.  You want great writing and writing filled with mistakes.  Your students can learn from both.  Be sure to keep the names anonymous though.  My students have always loved reading works from my past classes.  If you don’t have anything from past students or are going into your first year of teaching then you can ask other teachers in your building or your social media groups to help you out.

  1. Poetry

I love teaching poetry in my classroom because I find that it helps my struggling writers be successful.  It also helps me to focus on a specific skill my students need to learn without writing an entire paper.  Reading great poetry can mentor students in specific skills without reading an entire book.  Poetry can be a great persuasive mentor text if you can find one that meets your purpose and audience.

  1. Ask the Librarian

You tell students to ask the librarian and you should too.  Librarians have read so many books.  They would probably be able to pull 10 books off the shelf for you by lunch after you send a quick email.  Also, I live in a small town and can email my town librarian with questions.  If you are able ask them for books too.  You will get two perspectives filled with great ideas.

How to Teach With a Persuasive Mentor Text

Now you know how to pick a persuasive mentor text and you know places to look to find one that works for your class.  But there is more to teaching with a persuasive mentor text than reading it.  Let’s take a look at some of the steps you should follow to help you teach with a persuasive mentor text.  You don’t have to do every single step if your students don’t need you to, but some of these may be the reason you haven’t seen the results you want.

  1. Determine If Your Students Can Write a Paragraph

I usually taught persuasive writing about halfway through the school year, so I already knew my students well.  If you are teaching persuasive writing at the beginning of the school year you will want to be sure that your students know how to write a paragraph before you dive into mentor texts.

  1. Define Unfamiliar Vocabulary Ahead of Time

Mentor texts are not reading lessons, they are writing lessons.  This is not the time to have your students struggle with vocabulary to improve their reading skills.  Your goal in using a mentor text is to model and teach students about writing.  They will not be able to focus on learning the author’s craft if they are struggling with the vocabulary. 

  1. Read the Piece Out Loud (and Individually) 

Reading the persuasive mentor text out loud and individually will help to make sure your students understand the text and can move on to the analyzing phase where they will work on a particular skill.  Having students read a mentor text themselves can help increase their understanding.  You can decide if they read individually or out loud first.

  1. Review the Content Then Dive into How it’s Crafted

Your students need to comprehend the text before they work on analyzing.  This is not a reading comprehension lesson, but you do want to make sure they understand what is happening in the text before they analyze how the author crafted it.  You may even decide to combine steps 3 and 4.  During the first read have students answer some basic comprehension questions and then during the second read discuss how the author structured the story.

  1. Tell Students What They are Trying to Recognize and Learn

When students are learning a new skill you need to tell them exactly what they are trying to learn and should look for.  Chances are your students won’t be able to recognize the skill you are working on teaching them through mentor texts, which is why you are teaching them.  Take time to give some explicit instruction around what you would like them to learn.

  1. Use Specific Words, Sentences, or Phrases

When you are asking students questions about the persuasive mentor text be as specific as possible.  Ask something like “What about the sentence ____ makes you want to give the boy an iguana?”  That way you are asking about a specific  sentence and it will help your students think and learn without being overwhelmed.  Some questions will be broader, but having a least a few specific ones will help your students succeed.

  1. Share Multiple Examples of the Skill You Want to Teach

Use multiple mentor text examples of the skill you want to teach your students.  You may work on these mentor texts over several days or use the jig saw method to have your students break up the work.  Having your students see the same skill used by several authors could help them understand it better.

  1. Repeat and Review

Your students will need time to learn the skill you are focused on teaching.  Take time to go back to the mentor text, repeat the lesson, and review it as much as needed.  This will improve their understanding several times over.

  1. Model the Specific Technique You are Teaching

Modeling is one of the strongest teaching methods available to teachers.  We should always model the skills we are trying to teach to our students.  You just showed them some great examples from real writers in the mentor texts.  It’s difficult for students to see what a mentor author did and then translate that example into something they can do themselves. Talk through the process of how your are implimenting what the mentor text did to show your students how.  They will see that it will take some work to understand the focus skill and apply it to their work.

  1. Practice

Have your students practice the skill you want them to learn a lot.  This means you might give them several short paragraphs to write over several days that are just practice, they don’t need to develop it into a full essay or a full grade.  Give them time to write, mess up, and practice the skill they are learning without the pressure of a full grade.

  1. Provide Feedback

Student writers need feedback often.  They will learn more from in-the-moment feedback than a grade on a paper.  Take time to conference with students during all their practice writing.  Tell them when they are using the focus skill well, where they can add it in more, and ensure they understand it fully.

Persuasive Mentor Text Favorites

If you need a good starting list of persuasive mentor texts then here is a list for you.   I love to hear what else you would add to this list down in the comments.  If there is a particular skill you teach with a mentor text I’d love to hear that as well.

Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters From Obedience School

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs!

Don’t Feed the Bear

King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub

Can I have a Stegosaurus Mom?

Lincoln Tells a Joke

I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato

What’s With This Room

Can I Be Your Dog?

My Lucky Day

Spoon

A Pig Parade

Earrings!

Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type

Eat Your Peas

I Wanna Iguana

Dear Mr. Blue Berry

Hey, Little Ant

Final Tips About Teaching With a Persuasive Mentor Text

Make sure you give your students plenty of time to practice the writing skill you want them to learn.  Persuasive writing is more advanced than the other writing they have been doing so far.  You can help your students succeed in persuasive writing by giving them lots of time to practice and mess up.  Model what they should be learning often.  The more they see the process the better they will do using it.  It takes time for students to move from reading to seeing a lesson in a text, and to apply that lesson in their work.  Be patient with your students and celebrate progress. 

Here is Your FREE Prompt for Writing Poetry

I know that you needed a prompt to help kickstart your students’ writing.  Here is an entire lesson for FREE.  My Our School Poem guides students through using sensory language to describe their school. The step-by-step directions guide your class through the writing process with all the necessary worksheets making this the perfect lesson for your classroom.

3 Ancient Techniques of Persuasive Writing That Empower Writers

All the strategies writers use to persuade come back to three techniques of persuasive writing.  They might have a different spin or details put behind them, but when you examine them closely you will be able to fit them into one of these three categories: ethos, pathos, and logos.

Who is Convinced by the Techniques of Persuasive Writing?

As I was researching and preparing to write this I was trying to think of a great story to tell you about a time when I was convinced to buy something I might not need because of these techniques.  But I was having trouble so I asked my husband if he could tell me about a time he was convinced to buy something he didn’t need.  His response was, “That’s my personality.”  

He meant that if an advertiser uses the right technique they will rope him in.  I on the other hand tend to tell him that my old computer, phone, and watch work just fine.  He asks if I need a new one and my response is about if he is getting it for free.  The point is that we can all be convinced if the right technique is used.  If the right technique isn’t used the reader/viewer can resist.  

What Techniques of Persuasive Writing Have Worked on You?

I was just talking about advertisements and purchases, but persuasion comes in many formats such as friends, letters, blogs, social media, news, leaders, and so many more places.  I’d love to hear about a time you were persuaded in some way. Drop a comment to share.

What are Techniques of Persuasive Writing

Persuasive writing essays are when the writer is trying to convince the reader to agree with them.  The writer wants to be right and to prove that they are, they blend facts and opinions. After the writer has convinced the reader they are right, the writer is trying to get the reader to do something like stop using plastic straws or buy them a puppy.  How they manage to convince the reader to adopt new ways of thinking depends on the technique or combination of techniques the writer decides to use.  There are a lot of tips, methods, and ideas out there, but they all come back to three techniques.

Techniques of persuasive writing are the methods a writer uses to convince the reader to agree with them and do what they want.  Remember there is a slight difference between opinion, persuasive, and argumentative writing.  If you want to read about the differences you can look at my article Discover this Powerful 3 Part Detailed and Simple Guide to Persuasive Writing Essays.

How Others Explain the Techniques of Persuasive Writing

Top 5 Persuasive Writing Techniques for Students

How to Use the 4 Modes of Persuasion to Make Your Writing Irresistible

Persuasive Techniques

Going Greek With Techniques of Persuasive Writing

The techniques for persuasive writing were first identified by Aristotle when he wrote “The Three Modes of Persuasion” as part of his book Rhetoric in 4 B.C.E.  Amazingly, the techniques of persuasive writing have been identified for centuries.  

The three techniques for persuasive writing are ethos, logos, and pathos. Sometimes kairos is added included as a fourth mode. We will be taking a close look at each of these techniques to help you be able to understand and identify each yourself before you teach them to your students.  Then we will take a look at some modern ideas, methods, and tips.

Ethos Techniques of Persuasive Writing

Ethos is a Greek word and it translates to something like “moral character.”  Ethos focuses on who the writer is.  Aristotle explained that ethos is made of three components Phronesis, Arete, and Eunoia.  In modern times most writers say ethos can be broken into two components character and credibility.  As we talk about the Greek components you will understand why this has been simplified.

  1. Phronesis

Phronesis refers to the wisdom and intelligence of the writer.  When people know that you are an expert on a topic they trust what you say.  When you write using examples and research this helps people trust you.  Building trust with your audience is key to persuading them.

  1. Arete 

Arete refers to how your position on the topic is moral and just.  Since every person has different life experiences and beliefs they think different things are moral and just.  This means the writer must explain what they believe and why.

  1. Eunoia

Eunoia is the connection you establish with your audience.  Connecting with an audience requires that you extend goodwill and build rapport.  Explaining your background helps your audience trust and connect with you.  If your idea or position is too far-fetched you will lose your audience.

In modern times most writers have simplified these words to credibility and character.  Let’s take a look at these two so you can understand why this may have happened.

  1. Credibility

Is the author credible?  The reader needs to know the writer’s authority or expertise on the topic.  The writer thinks his idea or position deserves the attention of the reader, and now the writer must prove why.

  1. Character

Character is about who the writer is including their personal history or background and their personality traits.  What’s the writer’s history?  Does the writer make good choices?  Is the writer well-liked by friends, neighbors, and colleagues?

Can you see how the 3 parts of ethos that Aristotle identified were shortened into two?  They are closely related and work together.

Way to Build Ethos and Trust

Similitude is when the reader and the author share an identity such as patriotism, traditions, justice, dignity, social, religious, or philosophy.  The writer can show the reader this by discussing values, using familiar language, and grouping themselves with the reader with words like we and us.  

The writer can also talk about their experience and background in the topic by adding an anecdote.  Any time the writer can weave in details about their experience or expertise it helps gain the reader’s trust

Deference is a big word that means humility.  The writer admits they do not know everything in the universe and respect others’ work and opinions on the topic.  The writer can even disagree respectfully.  The writer also uses statements such as “In my opinion,” to show that this is their position and leave some space for the reader to think.

Finally, the writer can talk about their own character more.  Weaving in stories where the writer has chosen to do the right thing can help gain the reader’s trust.

Logos Techniques of Persuasive Writing

Logos is, you guessed it, logic. Logos focuses on the rationality, clarity, and logical integrity of the argument.  The whole idea must work together so the evidence connects to the conclusion.  If there are mistakes in the logic of the writer (logical fallacies) then the reader will stop reading. The position the writer is trying to persuade the reader to agree to must make sense. 

The writer can make sure the reader can follow the writing.  Dropping hints or transition words so the reader knows what’s first, second, and last can help the reader say on track with the argument.  The type of logic the writer uses can help the reader understand the logos too.  These are reminiscent of the types of expository writing.

Ways to Help the Reader See the Logos

  1. Comparisons

If the writer makes a comparison between their current topic and position and connects it to something very similar it can help the reader agree.  For example, lawyers often refer to old cases that already have a ruling to gather precedence.  They are proving the logic.

  1. Cause & Effect

The writer may be trying to prove that one thing caused another.  Sometimes writers are trying to provide that one thing might cause another unless changes are made (just think of the environment).  With evidence and support, these claims are logical. The reader can follow the idea that one thing caused another

  1. Deductive Reasoning

Deductive reasoning is when the writer starts with a broad big idea, something more general, and then focuses on a specific point.  Detectives do this often.  They get a case and they know big broad facts.  They slowly narrow in on smaller details until they can prove who committed the crime.

  1. Inductive Reasoning

Inductive reasoning is almost the reverse.  The writer will start with several small and specific examples and use them to support a bigger idea.  Weight loss commercials love to do this.  They show you several people who have done the program successfully.  These successful people are several examples and they support the bigger idea of the product.

  1. Exemplification 

Writers will often use many examples and lots of kinds of evidence to support a claim.  This method involves more variety in the types of evidence that are discussed because the bigger idea has multiple parts, causes, or results.

  1. Elaboration 

We tell our students to elaborate and this is similar.  The writer explains the facts and evidence.  The writer is more involved with the interpretation of the evidence for the reader because they are explaining and telling more.

  1. Coherent Thought

Coherence is when something makes sense and coherent thoughts are the same.  The writer uses well-organized reasoning throughout their writing and doesn’t need to repeat themselves.

Pathos Techniques of Persuasive Writing

Pathos means suffering or experience in Greek.  When we talk about it in persuasive writing we are talking about stirring up the readers’ emotions.  If a writer can stir up people’s emotions then they might be able to sway them to agree with the writer.

Pathos is used in many forms of writing.  One of the great parts of writing is when we feel what the characters feel.  However, tapping into people’s emotions to persuade them is a whole different game.  Aristotle’s student Plato thought that Pathos could be misused to manipulate the reader.

Tips for Including Pathos in Your Writing 

  1.  The focus should be on the reader and what they could feel while reading.
  2. The writer should be trying to trigger a specific emotion in the reader.
  3. The reader should feel the argument is worth their time because it has a strong introduction and hook.
  4. Use an enticing title.
  5. Powerful terms like duty, justice, service, and freedom usually spark emotion and interest from the reader.
  6. Help the reader stay emotionally open to the message and engaged.
  7. Help the reader make emotional connections.

What are Aspects of Writing that Evoke Emotion?

  1. Expressive or emotional descriptions of people places and events.
  2. Vivid imagery helps the reader feel like they are there.
  3. Sharing personal stories helps the reader connect.
  4. Using an emotion-driven vocabulary.
  5. Use information that will spark emotion, either positive or negative.

Since students use emotions in other types of writing I think this is one of the easier aspects of persuasive writing for students to implement.  However, helping them get more specific with their strategies and methods could make this one of the more effective techniques of persuasive writing they use.

Bonus: Kairos Techniques of Persuasive Writing

Kairos means time or creating the perfect time to deliver a message or convince someone.  Kairos is last on my list because our students can’t always apply this.  We have to give due dates and they have to finish their assignments, but it’s important to note, that some students may be able to accomplish this.  

A better way to understand kairos is to think about a sale at a store.  They probably start showing some seasonal items you will want soon.  Then before a holiday, stores send a flyer to let you know the sale is coming.  Then you see commercials that say these will be the lowest prices of the season.  Finally, it’s sale time and you get an email or flyer with a coupon.  The stores have created the perfect time to persuade you to come to spend money.  Before all of their persuasion when you saw seasonal items the first time you probably thought, it’s okay we don’t need that.

Modern Techniques of Persuasive Writing

There are so many methods and tips for how to make a persuasive paper convince the audience.  None of these methods are bad, but try to notice how they all come back to one of our four techniques.  See if you can name which Mode of Persuasion these are.

Modern Methods of Persuasive Writing

  1. Everyone is doing it and you don’t want to feel left out.
  2. Use your big brains to understand this idea.
  3. You or a family member will benefit from this product or idea.
  4. Once you have or know this you will be happy.
  5. Common sense helps reasonable people agree.
  6. This is your legal right.
  7. The expert said.
  8. This is your responsibility.

Short and Simple Persuasive Writing Tips

If you are looking for a quick way to get your students on persuasive writing use this list to help.  Short and simple tips to get the process started.

  1. Pick a topic you are passionate about so you can persuade about something you believe in.
  2. Know your audience.  You want to know who you are trying to convince to agree with you.
  3. Hook the reader with the title or first sentence so they know what the paper will be about and help the reader decide if they will keep reading.
  4. Research both sides so you are prepared to convince the reader about any objections they have.
  5. Be empathic so the reader can relate and believe you.
  6. Ask rhetorical questions because the reader should be able to answer them after reading the research and information.
  7. Exaggeration can help you emphasize a point, idea, or overall position on the topic.
  8. Repeat yourself because it can slowly encourage the reader to agree with you.

Using a Combination of Techniques of Persuasive Writing

Ethos, Logos, and Pathos (and Kairos) work together to create persuasive writing.  It’s possible to use only one of these techniques, but chances are your students’ writing will be stronger if they use them all at some point in their writing.  Using all of these techniques of persuasive writing will also help your students reach and persuade a bigger audience because different techniques appeal to different people.

Here is Your FREE Prompt for Writing Poetry

I know that you needed a prompt to help kickstart your students’ writing.  Here is an entire lesson for FREE.  My Our School Poem guides students through using sensory language to describe their school. The step-by-step

Discover this Powerful 3 Part Detailed and Simple Guide to Persuasive Writing Essays

What is a persuasive writing essay?  It’s when you try to get someone to do what you want.  The goal of a persuasive writing essay is to convince the reader to agree with the writer and do what the writer wants.  How the writer gets them to do it depends on how well the writer understands the three types of persuasive writing.

My First Experience Teaching Persuasive Writing Essays

When I was working in a fourth-grade classroom as a paraprofessional our students were getting ready to learn about persuasive writing.  The teacher I was working with pulled two books to talk about with the students, I Wanna Iguana by Karen Kaufman Orloff and Hey, Little Ant by Hannah Hoose and Philip Hoose. She read the books to the students, talked about counterarguments, and set them off to work on their own papers.  

Is That All There is to Teaching Persuasive Writing Essays?

The lesson seemed simple enough.  The kids had fun and were enjoying the concept behind persuasive writing.  It was a good starting point but there is so much more to persuasive writing than this.  As teachers, we must be prepared to bring the lessons to further so our students understanding of persuasive writing essays can grow.

What are Persuasive Writing Essays?

I have heard persuasive writing called persuasive, argumentative, and opinion writing.  They are used interchangeably depending on the school, district, and state.  However, these are three different types of writing.  I would say they all fall into the persuasive genre, but they are different.  

Normally I wouldn’t care that these words are all used to mean the same thing except that the common core makes a distinction between them.  As I check the writing standards for my lessons across 4th, 5th, and 6th grade I noticed something that we probably should be more aware of.

4th5th6th
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.1Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.1Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.1Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.

The common core changes from opinion to arguments in 6th grade.

Clearly, our standards care about the differences between these three types of writing.  Be sure to check your own state standards to see what they say.  Let me know what you find in the comments.

More Ideas About Persuasive Writing Essays

Opinion, Persuasive, or Argumentative Writing?

Argumentative Vs. Persuasive Writing

What You Need to Know About the Types of Persuasive Writing Essays

Knowing the three types of persuasive writing essays could help you clarify what you plan on teaching your students.  You will be able to write your lesson plans easier when you know what your students need to learn.  We are going to discuss each type, its unique purposes, and the basic outlines to follow.

Opinion Persuasive Writing Essays 

Opinion Essays are when the writer wants to share their opinion and preference.  The writer will share what they think and why they think that.  It is a way for the writer’s ideas and opinions to be heard. Their opinion is one-sided.  They are not expecting to get anything, but a listener.

The writer is usually excited about sharing their opinion and ideas with whoever will listen.  They tend to use the first person in their writing because it is their opinion so informal is fine.  The writer also doesn’t need to support their opinion with facts or information, it is all about what they think and feel.

Opinion writing essays usually follow this basic outline.

  1. Pick a topic.
  2. Decide what you think about it.
  3. Write, draw, or talk about your opinion.

Persuasive Writing Essays

Persuasive writing essays are when the writer is trying to convince the reader to agree with them.  The writer wants to be right and to prove that they blend facts and opinions.  

The writer is looking for an audience who could agree with him with some convincing.  The writer is usually talking to a specific person, group, or organization so they can write informally by using the first or second person.  This specific audience can give him the satisfaction of being right if he is convincing.  

Persuasive writers need to be passionate, personal, and emotional. They use emotion to convince their audience through motivation, inspiration, or manipulation.  Persuasive writing can come across as aggressive, through arguments and by talking to the reader, because the writer is trying hard to convince the reader to agree.  Their goal of getting the reader to agree causes them to present one side of the argument.  It’s single-minded writing.  

The persuasive writer uses mostly opinions and feelings.  The writer connects to the readers’ emotions to get them to agree and do what the writer wants.  It’s the strong emotional influences and appeals that make the audience agree with the writer.

Persuasive writing essays usually follow this basic outline.

  1. Pick a topic of interest to the writer.  The topic should be something about which the writer can declare what he/she wants.
  2. Choose a side to fight for.
  3. Start writing using lots of emotional influence.

Argumentative Persuasive Writing Essays

The writer wants the reader to accept his ideas, perspective, or side of the argument as the truth.  In order to do this, the writer uses relevant reasons and credible data to get the reader to accept their idea as truth.  Logic is the main force behind an argumentative essay.

The writer doesn’t need a specific audience to write for because the writer simply wants to tell the truth and get the truth out into the world.  Since there is no specific audience the writer usually uses a more formal third-person point of view.  Using the third person can help the writer stay more objective.  The tone of the paper is fair and reasonable.  The writer remains respectful, tactful, and formal in their writing.  

An argumentative essay looks at multiple perspectives and opposing views on the topic.  The writer will talk about the pros and cons of the topic as they develop key points and counterpoints.  The logical reasoning and proof in an argumentative essay are fair and balanced allowing for some consideration of the multiple perspectives.

Argumentative essays appeal to logic more than anything else.  The reasons to agree with the writer are logical and supported by facts, data, expert quotes, and evidence.  Ultimately it’s the logical argument and consideration of the other perspectives that convinces the audience to agree with the writer.

Argumentative persuasive writing essays usually follow this basic outline.

  1. Pick a topic of interest to the writer.  The topic should be something about which the writer can declare what he/she wants.
  2. Choose a side to fight for.
  3. Start writing using facts and information to present the ideas of both sides (counterarguments) to the reader, and let the reader decide what they think is right.

Persuasive Writing Essays in Real-Life

We are surrounded by persuasive ideas all the time.  There are constant ads trying to convince us of what we need.  There are influencers, news reporters, and doctors who tell us what we should do.  Now that you know about the three types of persuasive writing, can you identify the different types when you see them?

Students can write many forms of persuasive writing, such as letters, signs, reviews, blog posts, essays, and lists. You can even have your students write fake social media posts and advertisements to practice their persuasive skills. These are just a few of the ways you can have your students practice persuasive writing.  

Why are Persuasive Writing Essays Important?

Students benefit from persuasive writing in several ways.  First, I often see students have fun when they are working on persuasive writing.  We know students learn better if they think it is fun and are engaged in the activity.  

Second, Students are constantly surrounded by ads, influences, and peers telling them what to do.  Persuasive writing could help them identify the persuasion and make their own choice. 

Third, persuasive writing helps writers learn to present their ideas in clear, structured, and convincing ways.  The structure of persuasive writing helps students learn what an essay is. 

Fourth, students learn how to research and use facts in an expressive way.  Research can be more than research when paired with a clear opinion.  Persuasive writing allows students to learn to communicate their main idea in a clear argument.  

Persuasion can be a good or bad thing.  It can entice us to spend extra money we don’t have or follow the crowd.  Persuasion can be a good thing that helps us make good or kind choices, like donating to charity or helping a friend.  No matter what your students are writing they will learn from the practice.

Here is Your FREE Prompt for Writing Poetry

I know that you needed a prompt to help kickstart your students’ writing.  Here is an entire lesson for FREE.  My Our School Poem guides students through using sensory language to describe their school. The step-by-step directions guide your class through the writing process with all the necessary worksheets making this the perfect lesson for your classroom.

19 Ways to Make Expository Writing Essay Grading Easier

Essay grading is a time-consuming task that every writing teacher would like to see made simpler.  If you change your mindset about grading and make a few decisions about your grading system it’s possible to take back some time.  These tips will help you simplify the grading process for expository writing and let go of things that don’t matter.

Essay Grading on Long Car Rides

The only thing I don’t like about teaching writing is essay grading.  Essay grading takes so long and the giant stack of papers that you get from students is just too much to take.  I would often grade essays on long car rides.  On a car ride, I couldn’t avoid the boring and time-consuming task for very long.  There were fewer distractions to get in my way.  But it was still my personal time outside of school.  

Do You Want Easier Expository Writing Essay Grading?

Have you spent your personal time on essay grading?  It sucks to have to spend time on school work when you should be able to spend that time on what you want.  It takes some work on the front end, but it is possible to make the grading process easier.

What is the Key to Faster Essay Grading?

Essay grading is going to take time, but my goal is that it will take less time when you implement some of these tips.  The secret to faster essay grading is to create a grading system that works well for you.  We use systems and processes to make so many parts of life easier and grading shouldn’t be any different.  As we learn and change our systems and processes shift too.  There is no instant fix for essay grading unless you simply toss out the papers and give everyone a 100%.  You can take some of the ideas I share with you here and start to build a faster and more efficient essay grading process for yourself. 

Articles About Expository Essay Grading Tips

12 Smart Ideas to Grade Essays Faster

Practical Tips for Grading Faster

How to Grade Faster

Tips for Easier Essay Grading

Let’s get started on creating an easier expository essay grading process.  These tips for essay grading are some of the ones that I think work the best for expository or informational writing.  I’ve broken these tips into a few categories to make the information easier to wrap your head around.  It could also help you locate tips in a particular area of essay grading.  The ideas you try first may not work well for you, which is okay.  Come back to this article to pick out some other ideas to try.

Essay Grading Before the Final Draft

You can start grading student work before they turn in their final draft.  You don’t have to be stuck under a massive pile of papers.  Here are a few ways you can get ahead of grading.

Better Revising and Editing Before Essay Grading 

I often feel like we tell our students the expectations we have for revising and editing and then leave them to it.  I often did it myself. I would assign work without teaching them the details of how to do it. Then I was surprised when my students turned in papers that were confusing and full of errors.

Give students more guidance during the revising and editing stages of writing.  Provide them with clear steps, frequent check-ins, and feedback to help them learn to revise and edit successfully.  Fast, focused, and frequent feedback will help them grow as writers.  Students care about revising and editing suggestions while they are working on their papers so they can improve their papers and grades.  

Things to remember during this process.  

  • You will not be reading everyone’s paper, just parts, and paragraphs.
  • You do not need to write down anything, give your students that responsibility.  
  • If students haven’t done something on their own yet then they probably don’t understand it or know how to do it, so add some whole or small group lessons into your plan.

Need any ideas for revising and editing?  Here are a few articles I’ve written about it.

How to Empower Your Students to be Strong Writers with Essay Revising

4 Ways to Easily Help Students Boost Their Understanding of Revising vs Editing

Easily Teach Editing to Your Students With These 23 Powerful Tips

Start Essay Grading During Writing Conferences

Writing conferences during writer’s workshop is standard in most classrooms.  While you give your students time to write you meet with a few students each day and help them with their writing.  Since you are already taking the time to read, mark, and talk about areas they can improve their work you have basically already graded a paragraph or two.  While you are talking mark up their paper with suggestions.  Then when they turn in their final draft you might already have several paragraphs graded.  You simply compare the final draft to the previous ones you’ve marked to see if they’ve made corrections.

Essay Grading Through a Self-Check

Your students should have a rubric long before the final draft is due.  When you have your students turn in the final draft have them fill out the rubric as well.  They should spend time looking at their final draft and determining if they think they will get the highest grade possible or not.  Then give them one last chance to make changes.  Then there are fewer corrections that you need to make.

Essay Grading with Highlighters

Expository writing is complex.  To make it simpler it’s a good idea to focus on just a few of the skills students are trying to learn over the whole school year.  Before students turn in their final draft have them highlight the skill(s) you’ve been focused on for this assignment.  The skills could be citing sources, supporting evidence, or key points.  Then focus on grading these parts of the papers.  Let other errors go and focus their grade on the skill they are trying to master.  Let students know that you will not be marking other errors, just the focus skills.

Essay Grading Reflection Activity

When students are ready to turn in their final draft, have them work on some reflection first.  They can write a quick list of corrections and changes they’ve made from their first draft.  This simple activity gives them a chance to reflect and it’s metacognitive.    You get a quick look at how they’ve grown as writers, which can make grading easier.  If you are concerned that students won’t take this activity seriously offer a few bonus points if they do this well.

Plan for Essay Grading

Time is always against us.  That’s why teachers take grading home, they simply don’t have enough time during school.  These tips are intended to help you plan so you have more time and are prepared for how much grading you will do.

Essay Grading During Movies

If you show movies in your classroom be strategic and make a plan around them.  Look at the calendar of when you plan to have essays due and make the next day a movie day.  Imagine if you had a few more hours in class for essay grading because you planned ahead.

Plan How Much Essay Grading You Will Have to Do.

Essay grading is necessary and a time-consuming task.  Take a look at your calendar at the beginning of the year and decide how many essays you want students to complete for a grade.  Put them on your calendar.  Having a plan like this will prepare you for how much grading you will need to do. Too much or too little wouldn’t be good for anyone.  If you need some help becoming a curriculum mapper read this. 

Don’t Accept Late Work

This seems harsh, but hopefully, by having a late work policy you won’t have to implement it that often.  At my last school if students turned in late work the highest grade they could get was 50%.  The students knew the policy and it helped to keep them on track most of the time because getting 50% for the same amount of work and watching your grade go down stunk.  

There are always acceptions to this rule such as IEPs, family emergencies, and sickness.  Also, if a struggling student came to talk BEFORE the due date then I rewarded their self-advocacy by coming up with an alternate plan together.

Prepare Yourself for Essay Grading

How you are doing is an important part of essay grading.  If you aren’t in a good place to start a big task like this then it’s going to be harder and longer.  Let’s review a few quick ways to prepare yourself.

  1. Grab your favorite pens
  2. Know what time of day your brain works best for this task and plan for it.
  3. Use a comments bank for digital grading so you aren’t writing the same thing.
  4. Limit distractions around you.
  5. Set a timer and race against it for each paper so you don’t linger on a paper too long.
  6. Grade essays before easier tasks because you will always find another thing to grade first.

Essay Grading Tips for Marking Papers

You are probably tired of writing the same comment over and over again.  It takes time to tell students all of their errors.  But you don’t need to tell them all their errors on every single paper.  This is where you can save tons of time, but it will take practice to get used to it.

  1. KeyCode or Comment Code

Have you heard of a key code or comment code?  It’s a paper of the common marks you make on an essay.  Each item might be represented by a letter or number.  When you come across a run-on sentence you write 3 instead of a “run-on sentence” each time.  You will be writing fewer comments on each paper.  Some teachers like to use highlighters to help them mark parts more noticeably too.

  1. Mark it Three Times

Don’t repeat the same comment throughout the whole paper.  Mark the first few and they tell the student to check the rest of the paper.  Some teachers have a rule of three.  But pick a number that works for you and stick to it.

  1. A Check Marks the Line

Write a check next to the lines that have a problem and let your students find the problem themselves.  This puts the responsibility on them and makes less work for you.

  1. Use Rubrics Effectively

If you use a rubric or checklist then just circle or underline the errors you see rather than write a comment.

  1. Not Ready to Publish

Return papers that are not ready for publication.  If students hand you a paper that is just a mess return it.  Don’t spend time fixing every error for them.  Tell them it’s not ready for publication and it will be a zero until they fix and resubmit it.  This method will make your grading life easier and give your students more responsibility.

Essay Grading Like the Most Experienced Teachers

Let’s talk about some tips and tricks from the most experienced teachers.  Isn’t it great that we can learn quickly what these teachers spent their careers perfecting?  They’ve got some great tips and suggestions.  The biggest tip is that these teachers have learned to let go.  Prepare your mind to let go and you will get back time and sanity in return.

Limit Length for Essay Grading

Usually, my 4th-6th grade students want to write the shortest paper possible.  My question for them is usually if they have answered the question fully or written all the important information.  But there are always students who want to write everything and I can’t figure out what a story about their dog has to do with the topic.  Limiting the length will give you less to grade but will also challenge your students to be more concise with their writing.  Writing can start to become too wordy and confuse the reader.  By having students cut out unimportant information to limit their length they are learning how to determine what information is important and be more concise with their words.

Essay Grading Isn’t Required for Every Assignment

You are allowed to have your students practice writing without grading it or making it a huge project.  The best way for students to learn to write is to write.  The more writing they get done the more they will learn.  If you feel like your students need motivation to put in their full effort here are a few ideas.

  • Pick high-interest topics
  • Let students pick their topics
  • Give a participation grade
  • Give a completion grade
  • Have a classmate grade it.

Specific Skills Essay Grading

You can pick one skill or choose Focus Correction Areas (FCAs).  Either way when you sit down to grade your students a good portion of their grade is going to come from mastering the specific skills you asked them to work on.  

FCAs are 3-4 skills you are asking your students to pay close attention to.  You want to be sure to let them know how many points each skill is worth.  You can also simply let them know that you will be grading one skill.  Have them highlight that skill in their writing and let most of the grade come from that.  It should take you one read and very little marking.  If it’s full of grammar and spelling errors you can still take away points, but you don’t have to mark everything.

Essay Grading for Content

You can choose to grade for the content of their writing.  This means that you are looking for factual information that makes sense, and teaches you something.   Read through their papers and consider the content only.  If you see grammar and spelling errors keep tally marks on a sticky note and simply take away a few points.  Let the majority of their grade come from writing the content well.

Group Projects Instead of Essay Grading

Assign group grades and group writing projects to your students.  Let your students help each other.  Wouldn’t it be great if they worked in groups of three or four?  You cut your grading by 75% and students can support each other.  If you want some group writing projects I’ve got you covered.  Check them out here:

History of Thanksgiving Day

What is the History of Saint Patrick’s Day?

What is the History of Halloween?

What’s the History of Valentine’s Day?

Develop Your Essay Grading System

Now it’s time for you to give some of these grading ideas a try in your classroom.  See which ones work for you and your students to take back some control and time.  My final tip for you is that when you are trying to determine if you should give students a 3 or 4, a B or B+, or are torn between two grades, scale up.  Give your students credit for completing the work, putting in full effort, and turning it in on time. Don’t stress over which grade to give them when it’s so close.

Here is Your FREE Prompt for Writing Poetry

I know that you needed a prompt to help kickstart your students’ writing.  Here is an entire lesson for FREE.  My Our School Poem guides students through using sensory language to describe their school. The step-by-step directions guide your class through the writing process with all the necessary worksheets making this the perfect lesson for your classroom.

18 Simple Mini-Lessons in this Clever Unit Example for Expository Writing

Having a unit example for expository writing can be incredibly helpful.  Expository writing is one of the most important types of writing for our students to gain a strong understanding of because they will use it more than any other type of writing when they graduate.  There are so many steps to writing an expository writing essay that it can be hard to know where to have your students start.

No Example for Expository Writing

When I was teaching I never really felt like I had a solid plan for how to teach expository writing.  I gave my students assignments and helped them research their topics.  I showed them what an expository essay should look like, but I never felt like I could nurture them fully.  I never had a plan or the knowledge to help them write a strong expository essay.  I was assigning work rather than teaching them how to do it.

I Created an Example for Expository Writing

As I grew and developed my TpT store my knowledge of teaching writing grew too.  I learned so much more through my curriculum creation and blogging than I had from mentor teachers, student teaching, and college.  After studying how to teach writing for so long I decide to pull together the expository writing unit I dream about.  This unit will be available in the coming year on TpT, but until then I have outlined what lessons are going to be included so you have guidance on how to teach expository writing in your classroom.  This example for expository writing is inspired by the writing process, common core standards, and what I wanted my students to understand better.

What is Expository Writing and Why is it Important?

Expository writing is writing that exposes facts or informs the reader.  The goal of expository writing is to deepen the reader’s understanding of the topic.  Expository writing is fact-based and presented in a logically organized way.  The writer is objective, meaning they keep their opinion out of the writing.

Expository writing is also called: 

  • informational writing
  • informative writing
  • research writing
  • explanatory writing

Expository writing is important because once students graduate from school it is the type of writing they will be using the most.  They need to have a strong understanding of how it works and what to do.  Even if students aren’t writing a ton after college they will need to know how to research information.  I research every day to find out things I want to know.  It is a skill that students cannot live without.

Articles With Examples for Expository Writing Mini-Lessons

Set the Routine – Informational Writing: Week1 – Sea Turtles

Expository Writing for Elementary Children

How to Teach Expository Writing

Example for Expository Writing

In this example for expository writing, I have ordered the lesson carefully in the order that I would teach them.  That doesn’t mean it’s the right order.  You may feel that one lesson would be better before another.  You might change the order of the lessons depending on what students you have each year.  There may be lessons you decide to skip completely.  You know your students best and can make the best decision on how to teach them, I’m just here to make it a little easier.

Before Your Show Any Example for Expository Writing, Teach the Types of Expository Writing

Before you show your students examples of expository writing you need to be sure that they understand that there are six types of expository writing.  Each type of expository writing serves a slightly different and more specific purpose.  Once students know and understand the different types of expository they should be able to pick the type that will make their writing clear and understandable.  If you want more detail about the six types of expository writing you can read about them in my article The Brilliant and Easy Guide to the 6 Types of Expository Writing. The six types of expository writing are:

  • Process Essay
  • Cause and Effect Essay
  • Problem Solution Essay
  • Compare and Contrast Essay
  • Definition Essay
  • Classification Essay

Use a Mentor Text as a Great Example for Expository Writing

Mentor texts have become a popular teaching tool for everything in writing because the best people our students can learn from are professional writers.  Select some different types of expository mentor texts to share with your students. When you are using mentor texts as a teaching tool you must have lots of conversations about different aspects of the mentor texts.  You need need to talk about the types of expository writing, the text features they see, the purpose of the writing, and anything else that can help your particular class.  

Example for Expository Writing Reliable Sources During Research

Teaching students how to use reliable or credible sources for research is no small task.  Students must learn what reliable and unreliable mean.  They need to learn what characteristics make a source reliable and which ones are a red flag.  There is so much information online which makes researching so much easier, but we also need to help our students learn to sift through the possible sources.  If you need more ideas about how to teach your students about reliable sources, then check out my full article How to Teach Students to Perform a Credible Sources Check in 7 Easy Steps

Citing Sources Example for Expository Writing

Once your students know how to find reliable sources and they are ready to research, they also need to know how to keep track of their resources so they can site them.  If your students are always working on the same computer or are logged into google then a great starting point is to teach them how to bookmark their sources in a folder labeled for the project.  I have had to teach 7th graders how to bookmark sites.  Start teaching them now so they can find their sources again quickly.  

You also need to teach them how to gather publishing information from a website.  I would start by having them fill out a chart or form with the publishing information.  Don’t worry about formatting yet, just guide them through recording the publishing information.  You can spend a class near the end of your project helping all your students format their worked cited page or send them to the site www.easybib.com which will order the information and add punctuation for them

Show Students an Organizing Research Example for Expository Writing 

Students should be given time to research and learn about their topic.  They should gather notes, ask questions and learn more.  Once your students have done a fair amount of research you can show them some examples of how they should organize their research, even if they aren’t done researching.  

The great thing about research is that writers can always go back and research more to find additional information they might have missed.  You can have your students organize their research in several different ways, but the organization should match the type of expository writing.  

I used to use any graphic organizer for any type of expository writing.  This wasn’t effective for my students because the graphic organizer should match the type of expository writing.  Using the most effective organization tool will help your students organize, understand, and write about their topic better.  Here are my expository writing graphic organizers.

Be sure to show students examples of how to use a specific graphic organizer or another organization method.  Never assume your students know how to do this because they might have done it wrong in the past, have never done it before, or kept it basic rather than adding details.

Examples for Expository Writing Where the Focus has Changed

One of the amazing things about expository writing is that the writer is constantly learning about their topic.  As the writer researches, reads, and learns they might determine that how they wanted to focus on their topic was wrong.  Because they learned something new while researching they need to shift the focus of their writing.  Show your students some examples of common misconceptions that a little research could correct.  

When our knowledge and ideas change because of research that’s a good thing because it means that we are learning.  Our students need to understand that it’s okay to have their focus shift.  

Share Evidence Example for Expository Writing that Supports the Focus

Students need to learn how to use evidence to support the topic and focus of their paper.  This all depends on the type of expository writing your students will be working on because students will use different evidence in a compare in contrast essay than they would in a definition essay.

Students will need to use their organized research to determine topics for different paragraphs and which evidence helps the writer explain the information to the reader.  A great way to do this is to give students a paper with mixed-up information.  You take the researched information and throw it together in any order.  This example of how to do it wrong is a great way for students to quickly understand why it’s important to match their evidence with a paragraph that needs it.

Example for Expository Writing Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Quotes

Often our upper elementary and middle school students will plagiarize by accident.  They gather their research information and start to write the paper their teacher asked for.  But what students don’t know is they can’t use someone else’s work word for word.  I have often seen students who would rather copy whole paragraphs into their notes than summarize them.  When they copy whole paragraphs into their notes there is a greater chance they will plagiarize because someone else’s words are right in front of them.

Teach students that summarizing and paraphrasing their notes is a great way to help them understand the information better and avoid plagiarizing.  Students should be using their research to share their idea not someone else’s. Make sure your students know that summarizing is when they take a whole article and simplify it to a few sentences.  Paraphrasing is more detailed.  They look at articles and put them into their own words, but it’s more detailed and closer to the original article.

But sometimes a quote from another person can add a lot of inspiration, knowledge, and credibility to a paper.  Teach students how to add quotes to their writing.  You can certainly limit their writing to 2-3 quotes so they aren’t relying on them too much.

Example for Expository Writing Formal Style

Expository writing is formal writing.  Students need to leave themselves out of the writing.  They should not write using me, ours, my, us, or other such words that indicate themselves.  Expository writing is when students are trying to expose the facts on a topic so it should not involve their opinions of that topic.  Students will have to revise their work to take themselves out of it.

Example for Expository Writing Task, Purpose, and Audience

Task, purpose, and audience are an important part of the common core and writing.  The task is the assignment you have given your students.  The purpose is to inform the reader about the topic.  Students can make their purpose even more specific by considering the type of expository writing they are working on.  The audience is who they will be writing for.  Are they writing to a business owner, the principal, classmates, parents, or someone else?  Who we write for impacts what and how we write.

If you would like to teach your students more about task, purpose, and audience you can take a look at What’s Author’s Purpose? in my TpT store.  This is a narrative writing lesson, but will still be helpful to your students.

 Hook and Thesis Statement Example for Expository Writing

Expository writing needs a hook and a thesis statement.  In expository writing, hooks can be facts, questions, anecdotes, observations, and statistics.  Thesis statements clearly explain what the expository essay will be about.  

In expository writing, the thesis statement states the topic and the key points the reader should understand about the topic.  It’s like a guide for what’s to come in the essay and of course, should be backed up by evidence.  The order of your key points in the thesis statement should match the order you plan to use in the rest of your essay.

The thesis statement should be specific and simple.  It is usually the last sentence of the introductory paragraph but doesn’t have to be.  As the writer researches and writes the thesis statement may change based on the evidence they find in their research, and that’s okay.  A thesis statement is usually the last sentence in the opening paragraph.

Fact, Definition, Concrete Detail, Quote, and Information Example for Expository Writing 

When our students are starting to write expository essays we need to do a lot of scaffolding and guiding to help them learn the process.  As adults who have graduated college, it’s hard to remember what it was like to learn how to research and put that information into writing.  Now it’s second nature to us to research information to support an idea or topic we want to talk or teach about.  We naturally weave what we have learned into our conversations and writing.

Our students need to be taught how to weave the facts, definitions, concrete details, quotes, and information into their writing.  Without guidance on how to take what they’ve learned and put it into their own words, their writing will remain stiff and boring.  Who wants to read 20 papers that are stiff and boring?  The best way to do this is by providing examples for our students.  Here are a few ideas on how your students can practice this skill.

  1. Have your students research a topic for 5-10 minutes.  They should not take notes.  Then they will talk about what they learned with a classmate.  This forces them to put the information in their own words.
  2. Demonstrate how you take information about a topic and put it into your own words.  To show students how it should work you should plan to read a little from two sources and take notes.  Then you should close the sources and organize the information slightly.  Pair some similar facts and decide what should go first and second.  Then write a few sentences.  This sounds complex but be sure it is a short snapshot to show them a glimpse of the process.
  3. Quotes are a little bit different.  Find informative paragraphs and quotes that match.  Put these on task cards or something similar.  See if students can match the quote to the paragraph.  This is to help students learn that quotes need to be relevant and help make the information they are talking about clearer for the reader.

Clear Writing Example for Expository Writing

It can be difficult for students to know how much to research.  They often find too much or too little information on their topic.  The goal of an expository essay is that the information is clear and easy to read.  If students don’t have enough information then the reader has a lot of questions.  If the student has too much information it can be hard to organize, go beyond the current question they are answering, or be overwhelming.  

A great way to help students realize that too much or too little information stops their writing from being clear is with some simple practice.

  1. Find an expository paragraph about a specific topic. Have your students read a paragraph that is missing key information. Students should record the questions they still have about the topic.
  2. Next, give students a paragraph that has so much information that it is unorganized and beyond the topic or question of the paragraph.  Have students cross out the unnecessary information.

Conclusion Paragraph Example for Expository Writing

The conclusion of an expository essay should wrap up the main idea.  This means that the writer should avoid sharing new information.  Instead, the writer should restate their thesis statement in different words, remind the reader of the key points that were discussed and tie up loose ends. The conclusion paragraph should unify the whole paper by taking what the reader has learned and clarifying what it means in relation to the thesis statement.

Example for Expository Writing to Teach How to Link Ideas Using Transition Words

Transition words need to be used in expository writing to help link the ideas and paragraphs together.  The writer is taking information from several sources and organizing it to support their thesis statement.  Transition words are key to helping the reader follow the information so they understand the thesis statement.  

Demonstrating how students can do this is key.  There are so many lists of transition words on Google.  Do an image search and you will find many options that are categorized in different ways.  Next, take a simple paragraph and revise the transition words with your students.  If you have a projector or document camera you can simply edit by pulling words from your list.  If you do this demonstration on the computer then you should be sure to put the transition words you add in a different color so they stand out.  Be sure to read the final paragraph so students can hear how it clarified the writing.

Caution your students against throwing tons of transition words in just because.  It adds extra words that can make the writing confusing instead of clarifying it.  You can even create a second example where you add transition words to every sentence.  Add some transition words that don’t make sense in the sentence at all.  Then read the whole paragraph out loud so students can hear how awful it sounds.  

Example for Expository Writing Formatting 

Expository writing is unique because it has text features such as headings, captions, and pictures to help the reader gain a deeper understanding.  As our students practice expository writing we should have them learn how to use these text features.  

Usually, students are excited to add pictures to their work.  Of course, if you ask them for pictures then they should use captions.  Pictures should be chosen purposefully to help the reader understand the key points of the expository essay.  They should not put in a picture because they got tired of looking or thought it was a cute one.  When the picture and caption work together they can help the reader understand the writing better.

Not all expository essays will have headings in them.  But it’s not a bad skill to have your students practice.  Often we ask our students to make little books with specific information on each page.  The heading at the top of the page is a great practice.  This is a skill that students should learn to bring into expository essay writing.  

Bring students back to their graphic organizers.  Have students add any additional information they decided to include since they started. Then students should look for opportunities to add text features such as headings. If students organized their information and essay well adding headings with the help of the graphic organizer as a guide should be easy.  Of course, some students will have to spend more time revising their graphic organizer, but since the organizer was supposed to guide the paper it should help them understand and simplify the process for them.

Editing Example for Expository Writing

Students hate editing, but it helps create a smooth and easy-to-read paper.  Students will often do a poor job editing their papers.  My favorite editing technique is editing in rounds.  This is something that professional writers do.  The writer reads the paper several times.  Each time the writer focuses on correcting one thing.  In the first round, it could be capitals, the second could be punctuation, and the third could be spelling.  The writer can continue rounds until they edit all areas of correction.  It’s much easier to edit well when the writer can focus on one aspect at a time.

Publish and Share

The whole point of writing is that we can share our thoughts and ideas with countless people.  Please do not simply have your students turn in their essays to you.  There are so many ways you can show them their work is valued beyond the grade they get by having a plan to publish and share their work.  There are so many ideas for how you can share your students’ work.  If you need a few ideas for publishing and sharing check out my article all about it, 12 Delightful and Innovative Ways Share and Publish Students’ Writing.

Do You Want More Than an Example for Expository Writing?

I hope this unit example for expository writing helps inspire your mini-lessons for writer’s workshop.  If you want to work done for you check out my TpT store where I am creating the entire unit for you. (Coming soon!)  This will be a growing bundle as I add more lessons to the unit, but all lessons will be available individually as well.

Here is Your FREE Prompt for Writing Poetry

I know that you needed a prompt to help kickstart your students’ writing.  Here is an entire lesson for FREE.  My Our School Poem guides students through using sensory language to describe their school. The step-by-step directions guide your class through the writing process with all the necessary worksheets making this the perfect lesson for your classroom.

 

5 Surprising Ideas for Research Questions Activities to Help Your Students Deep Dive into Expository Writing

Teaching our students to ask detailed questions to gain the most information out of their research is an important skill.  But just like most things in teaching, we can assume our students know how to ask questions that will deepen their understanding.  We have to challenge and guide our students through the research question process to help them craft their best expository writing.

Before I Had Ideas for Research Questions Activities

Have you ever assigned a complex research project and within the first 20 minutes of research your students declare that they are done and ready to write?  You know they can’t have found enough information to write a great paper or create a great project, but they disagree.  My students would make these claims all the time.

How Can We Help Students Think of Ideas for Research Questions

What teacher hasn’t experienced a student who finishes their research quickly, when in fact they do not have enough information to complete their expository writing project?  They may lack some motivation, but I think it goes deeper than that.  Students don’t understand how to ask real questions that will lead to deeper knowledge and understanding of their topics.

Why Do Students Need Great Ideas for Research Questions?

In expository writing, all the research is guided by the questions the writer asks.  The writer might read some general articles, but they look for answers to the specific questions they have written down.  If their questions are shallow or basic then their papers and projects will follow suit.  If we want our students to gain a deeper understanding of the material and become better at expository research and writing then we must teach them how to ask better questions. 

More Articles About Developing Ideas for Research Questions

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Developing a Research Question

How Do We Develop Ideas for Research Questions in Our Students?

Our students need our help to develop and practice the skill of asking questions.  For so long our students have been asked to hold their questions, stay on topic, and wait until later, so no they have forgotten how to ask real questions and be curious.  Once we teach them how to ask more questions then they will have so many ideas for research questions.  We have to spend time teaching, modeling, and practicing the skill of asking questions so our students will become strong researchers.  These research questions activities will help your students ask better questions and gain more out of their research

Model Ideas for Research Questions

It shouldn’t be any surprise that one of the most valuable methods of teaching students how to ask questions for their research projects is to model them.  No matter which method of asking questions you work on with your students, be sure to model it for them.  They need to hear your thought process and ideas as one question leads to another and you categorize and sort questions.  They need to hear you ask silly questions and hard questions that there might not be an answer to.  The more you talk them through the process of brainstorming ideas for research questions the more they will learn.

Starburst Ideas for Research Questions

Starburst is an awesome activity that helps students develop ideas for research questions.  This activity is fairly new to me and at the same time, it’s not.  Students get a graphic organizer with a star on it.  At each point of the star, there is a question starter, like who, what, where, when, why, how, and purpose.  Students record several questions that start with each word.  

Starburst is an awesome activity that helps students develop ideas for research questions.  This activity is fairly new to me and at the same time, it’s not.  Students get a graphic organizer with a star on it.  At each point of the star, there is a question starter, like who, what, where, when, why, how, and purpose.  Students record several questions that start with each word.  

Since the graphic organizer is a star, students tend to be more engaged in the activity rather than writing a list. You can have students work in pairs or small groups too so they can build off of each other’s ideas.  Customization is possible too.  Depending on what topics your students are researching you can customize the questions or categories to fit the project.

Ideas for Research Questions with Question Builder 

Using this group work activity will help your students work together and come up with lots of ideas for research questions.  In Question Builder, each student writes their topic at the top of their page.  Then they write down one question about the topic.  Next, they pass their paper to a classmate.  The classmate reads the question and then adds a question based on the previous one.  You can imagine how many questions the students will come up with.  And since they are building off the previous question they are guaranteed to dive deep into some questions.  Also, They can’t repeat questions.

Partner Ideas for Research Questions

Having students work with a partner always engages students more.  There are two ways you can have students work on asking questions with partners.

The first partner question activity is more classic.  Have your students pair off to work on asking questions.  Set a timer for five or ten minutes.  Then the students will work on writing questions for one person’s topic.  When the timer goes off they switch and work on the other person’s topic.  

The second partner activity is more of an asking questions and mingling activity. Students start by writing their topic on the top of a piece of paper.  Students take their papers with them to walk around and talk to other students.  With each student, they should trade papers and write a question about the topic.  Students can’t say “no” to anyone who wants to trade papers and they should try to trade with everyone at least once.

Ideas for Research Questions: 21 Question Challenge

This research question activity can work in two ways. Personally, I would use both methods paired together.

First, you can pick a topic and let the students ask you questions until they figure out the topic.  They should try to figure it out before they hit 21 questions.  Students should record the questions and answers so that they can develop better ideas for their next question.  This activity will show your students that the more questions they ask the closer they get to know the topic because asking questions lead to information and understanding.

The second way you can do this activity is to have students try to write 21 questions in a set amount of time.  The goal of this version of 21 questions is that students write down all their questions without filtering themselves.  It’s the same way you model questions for them by letting the silly and hard questions mix in with the rest.

Ideas for Research Questions Leads to Incredible Keywords for Research

Now your students have a plethora of questions to work on answering as they research, but your job isn’t done.  They have these great questions, but that doesn’t translate into strong research skills.  When students are researching online it all comes down to understanding keywords.

Keywords are what researchers type into a search engine to find the information they need.  Often students will type in full questions or just the general topic they are researching and expect to find all the information.  But now your students have good questions.  Have your students highlight the most important words in each question.  These will be their keywords.

Teach your students how to type keywords into the search engine.  They may need to use synonyms or change the order of the words they are using.  Students might also need to think of whole new ways to ask the same question because it will give them different search results.  Finally, students should look at the different services a search engine offers such as imagines, videos, or news. 

Here is Your FREE Prompt for Writing Poetry

I know that you needed a prompt to help kickstart your students’ writing.  Here is an entire lesson for FREE.  My Our School Poem guides students through using sensory language to describe their school. The step-by-step directions guide your class through the writing process with all the necessary worksheets making this the perfect lesson for your classroom.

How to Create Brilliant Prompts for Expository Writing Projects Guaranteed to Engage Your Students

Expository writing projects can be fun and engaging for our students.  We don’t have to listen to them moan and groan about writing when we have a solid plan to make writing a meaningful learning experience.  Students will learn all the steps of expository writing in a way that’s easier for you to grade.  

Expository Essays vs. Expository Writing Projects

During my last year of teaching, I had my students write two different expository writing projects.  In the first project, students got to choose a state to research and present to the class.  They had some options on how to present their project.  My students worked so hard on their state projects.  

The second project was an essay on the civil rights movement.  I made my students write an essay because at some point they do have to write essays.  My students worked hard, learned a lot, and finished their work, but they didn’t enjoy it as much as the other project.  Their stress levels were high and the work they turned in wasn’t stellar.

Using More Expository Writing Projects 

My students were far more engaged in the expository writing project than in the expository writing essay.  Why wouldn’t they be?  Students enjoy choosing from a variety of projects that will help them best express their knowledge far more than writing an essay.  It was also more enjoyable for me to grade.  Why don’t we use more expository writing projects in our classrooms?

What are Expository Writing Projects?

An expository writing project can be an essay, but I like to differentiate between the essay and the project.  Expository essays are a series of well-researched paragraphs that explain or expose facts about a topic.  

An expository writing project is when the writer describes or explains the topic and ideas behind the topic with facts and evidence rather than opinions.  Expository writing projects can come in many forms such as pamphlets, podcasts, and letters rather than the traditional essay.  Students get to creatively decide how they will share the knowledge they researched and organized, but always with a written component.

How Expository Writing Projects Benefit Students and Teachers

Expository writing projects are more engaging and meaningful than essays because they allow the students some choice in how they will share their research and knowledge.  They also practice many of the same skills as an expository writing essay, the information is just presented differently.  Students still work on researching, determining the importance of information, organizing the information to support their idea, and presenting the information when they create an expository writing project.  The only difference is the writing might be in a different format.

Teachers tend to love expository writing projects too because they see how engaged their students are.  Also, expository writing projects are far easier to grade than a giant stack of expository writing essays.  Expository writing projects help teachers see how well students understand the content.  Since students are creating a project and presenting the material rather than writing an essay, they need to fully understand the content.

The real question now is where do you get ideas for expository writing projects?  You will have endless ideas after you read this guide for coming up with prompts and ideas.

Use High-Interest Topics for Expository Writing Projects

Research has shown again and again that students will be more engaged when researching high-interest topics.  The same is true for adults too.  I would not want to read a book and write a paper on brain surgery.  It’s just not my thing.  However, if I was reading about child development, teaching, or parenting then I am all in.  I love to hear all the ideas and advice and use it in my teaching life. 

My students always struggle to pick a topic to write about.  Often the topics they pick are from a list that the students might not be interested in.  But there is no reason we need to have students write about topics they aren’t interested in.  We can give them guidelines or a general topic area and then let them choose which topic is interesting to them.

Here are some examples of topic areas you might let your students create an expository writing project around.

  • Animals
  • Careers
  • Technology
  • Weather
  • Hobbies
  • Sports
  • Travel
  • Countries
  • States

Make Prompts for  Expository Writing Projects Meaningful

High-interest topics are great, but in reality, we cannot always assign these in the classroom.  The next way to incorporate expository writing projects into your classroom is to make the projects meaningful.  A great way to make expository writing projects meaningful is to connect them to other subjects rather than choosing a random topic.  

Talk to your teaching team and see what topic they are studying in their classes.  Then have your students dive deep into research in one of those topic areas.  They will gain a better understanding of the topic and learn how to craft an expository writing project.

In my classroom, my students had a reading specialist with another teacher.  They were reading The Watson’s Go To Birmingham – 1963.  As I talked with the other teacher she told me that she was working on helping the students understand racism and social injustice.  I decided that for writing they should dive deep into research on the civil rights movement.  My goal was that they would practice expository writing and gain a better understanding of the civil rights movement so they could understand the book better.  This same lesson, The Civil Rights Movement 1960, is one of my best sellers on TpT.

How to Create Prompts for Expository Writing Projects

One of the things I love about expository writing is that there are prompts everywhere.  There are so many things in the world to be curious about, and if we foster that curiosity in our students then we will have students bring ideas to us.  When we listen by setting up question boxes, parking lots, and utilizing posts we can hear our students’ questions.

The most important thing about choosing prompts for expository writing projects is that we should try to make them engaging and meaningful.  Engaging topics usually happens when the topic is of high interest to our students.  Meaningful topics usually occur when we connect their writing topics to other things they are learning so they gain an even deeper understanding of the topic.  Read more in the next section.

There are lists and lists online of expository writing prompts, but you are the best person to choose or create prompts for your class because you know your students.  Foster their curiosity and questions and look for good topics when your students cue you.

But I am not going to leave you hanging.  Check out these prompts for expository writing.

Choice Boards For Expository Writing Projects

My favorite way to assign expository writing projects is with choice boards.  Choice boards offer a variety of project choices to students.  With a choice board, students can decide which project will allow them to present their information well, based on the research they did and who they are.  

My students go through the process of researching their topic, picking a project format, and then writing a proposal about the project they want to create.  Students must explain to me their topic, project, and how they are going to be successful.  Then before they start their actual project they have to have teacher approval.  It’s a great opportunity for me to check in with each student and make sure they are on the right track with their research.

Choice boards have become very popular in the teaching world because they are a break from the usual work, give the students ownership, and provide differentiation to all students.  Students can choose the project that will work best for them.  What could be more differentiated than that?  

Expository Writing Projects

When you implement expository writing projects in your classroom your students will be more engaged in expository writing.  Projects are far less intimidating than essays.  Your students will learn the steps to expository writing in a fun and meaningful way, which will help them retain their learning longer.    

Now that you know all about expository writing projects, how are you going to incorporate them into your expository writing unit?

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Here is Your FREE Prompt for Writing Poetry

I know that you needed a prompt to help kickstart your students’ writing.  Here is an entire lesson for FREE.  My Our School Poem guides students through using sensory language to describe their school. The step-by-step directions guide your class through the writing process with all the necessary worksheets making this the perfect lesson for your classroom

What are Graphic Organizers for Innovative Expository Writing to Help Students Succeed?

What are graphic organizers? Graphic organizers are one of the most popular teaching tools for writing teachers.  Writing teachers use graphic organizers all the time to help students organize their thoughts in an accessible way, even if the students moan and groan through the whole process.  Students write better with the support of graphic organizers because it takes away the intimidating blank page.  It will be easier for them to get started writing when they have the appropriate graphic for the task.

What are Graphic Organizers Good For?

There are so many graphic organizers online and I would dare to argue there are too many.  As a teacher, I never knew which graphic organizer to choose for my students to use.  I would often just offer up several choices and let them pick. I had seen some of my mentor teachers do exactly the same.  This did not help my students effectively use this powerful writing tool.

What are Graphic Organizers When Utilized Correctly?

Of course, my students moaned and groaned at the extra work of a graphic organizer because I was not teaching them how to use it correctly.  It was just extra work.  Graphic organizers can be powerful when we teach our students how to use them.  We can’t assume they know how to use them.  But first we teachers need to know which graphic organizers to offer our students so we can support their writing.

What is Expository Writing?

Expository writing is writing that exposes facts or informs the reader.  Expository writing aims to deepen the reader’s understanding of the topic.  Expository writing is fact-based and presented in a logically organized way.  The writer is objective, meaning they keep their opinion out of the writing.

Expository writing is also called: 

  • informational writing
  • informative writing
  • research writing
  • explanatory writing

What are Graphic Organizers for Expository Writing and What Do Other Teachers Think?

Graphic Organizers for Writing

How to Teach Expository Writing

5 Types of Graphic Organizers to Improve Learning

What are Graphic Organizers for the 7 Types of Expository Writing.

I recently wrote all about the different types of expository writing and I’m glad I did because until you understand the types of expository writing you cannot pick a graphic organizer that will effectively help your students.  The type of graphic organizer and the type of writing is directly connected.  I will guide you through each type of expository writing and the type of graphic organizer you should use to help your students write more successfully.

What are Graphic Organizers for Process Essays?

A process essay explains the steps of a process required to complete a task.  It can be as simple as a recipe or as complex as the steps of a science experiment.  The writer is trying to write a detailed explanation that lets the reader complete the task without mistakes, confusion, or questions.  It should also be a process that can easily be repeated.  

A graphic organizer for a process essay needs to help students clearly identify each step of the process.  A place for notes on alternative directions could be helpful. Supply lists are another popular feature in process essays.  They also need to tell their reader what to do in the process which involves directional verbs, such as whisk, mix, or measure.  When all of these elements are combined into a graphic organizer your students will successfully and easily write their process essay.

What are Graphic Organizers for Sequence Essays?

A sequence essay is when information is presented in a logical and often chronological way from beginning to end.  Science is one of the subjects where students will often write sequence essays because they often have to write about what happens from start to finish in life cycles or observations.  

The graphic organizer for sequence essays should be similar to process essays.  It should help students define the order of the events or sequence them.  Each event also needs to be explained in detail.

What are Graphic Organizers for Cause and Effect Essays?

A cause-and-effect essay is written to explain why something happened and the effects of that event.  The effects may have a positive or negative impact, and sometimes it can even be both.  A cause-and-effect essay clearly explains the relationship and connection of the ideas using supporting evidence.  Sometimes all the effects aren’t known, but they can be predicted using developing evidence and logic.  This means that sometimes cause and effect essays can be hypothetical.  Students can explore “What would happen if…” topics.

There are two structures for a cause and effect essay – block structure and chain structure.  Students need to determine which structure matches their topic.  These two structures are exactly what the graphic organizers should layout for your students

Block Structure 

Block structure is when the cause is explained to the reader first and then the effects are explained.  This is usually an appropriate structure when one cause has many effects.

Chain Structure

Chain structure is when there is a chain of causes and effects.  It could be there are several causes and several effects from one event.  It can also be that the first effect turns into the next cause.  This is easier to picture when you think about the food chain.  When an invasive species enters an environment it eats the food of a second animal, when the second animal starts to die off a third animal loses its source of food.  It goes on and on messing up the ecosystem.

What are Graphic Organizers for Problem Solution Essays?

Problem-solution essays usually involve four steps to effectively lay out all the information for the reader.  First, the writer has to tell about the situation or problem.  Second, the problem needs to be explained in great detail.  Third, a solution or several solutions need to be presented. As the writer evaluates the solutions it can be helpful to include the pros and cons of each solution.  Fourth and finally, the writer might recommend the best solution by explaining if and how the solution can be implemented.

The graphic organizer for this essay would be the same format.  It would simply help students organize their thoughts and research into the four steps of a problem solution essay.  Having a graphic organizer would also ensure that students didn’t miss one of the steps of a problem-solution essay.

What are Graphic Organizers for Compare and Contrast Essays?

There are so many questions, especially on state tests that ask students to compare and contrast.  This essay question is one of the most common in many curriculums.  The comparison is when the writer compares the similarities.  The contrast is when the writer contrasts the differences.  What is being compared and contrasted should be of the same category.  This means you are not going to compare Alaska with going to the dentist.  However, you could choose two states to compare or even two cities in Alaska to compare.

There are two possible formats that we need to teach our students about for compare and contrast essays.  Which format you or your students choose wil depend on the results of their research.  Sometimes one makes more sense than the other, and other times it doesn’t matter and is the writer’s preference.  Let’s take a look at some examples using fruit.

Point By Point

In a point-by-point essay, the writer would first talk about the color of both fruits and then start a new paragraph about the shapes of both fruits.  The writer would continue to create a new paragraph for each point of comparing and contrasting.  This format keeps an essay organized and easy to read.  The reader of this essay can see clear similarities and differences between the subjects.

Subject By Subject

In a subject-by-subject essay, the writer would first talk about apples, discussing everything they want to explain and then do the same with while writing about pears.  It’s almost as if the writer is writing a short essay about one topic and then a short essay about the next topic.  This essay would be perfect if as you researched it was hard to categorize the points between the subjects in a similar way.  It gives more freedom to the writer to explore their findings away from specified points.

What are Graphic Organizers for Definition Essays?

A definition essay is an expository essay that gives a complete and detailed definition of the topic.  Definition essay topics can be concrete things with concrete meanings such as desk and mug. Or it can be about abstract things with abstract meanings such as love, respect, and anger.  

The goal of a definition essay is to fully explain the topic.  That means the writer will explain the purpose, who, what, why, where, and how.  Often the writer will appeal to the reader’s five senses to help increase understanding.  

We have our students write a lot of definition essays because they are just learning how to research, gather information, and then write about it.  I like to think of all the times we have our students write about an animal, or event in history.  We aren’t asking them about problems and solutions yet, but have them practice gathering the information about the subject so they can retell it.

Sometimes definition paragraphs will make a guest appearance in other types of expository writing because understanding the definitions of topics can increase reader understanding.

The graphic organizer will support students in making sure they gather the information that fully explains their topic.  There are several ways this could be set up and it really depends on the topic and exactly how you want your students to explain the topic.

What are Graphic Organizers for Classification Essays?

Classification is a word that is usually associated with science when the scientist breaks species of life on earth into the categories of animals, plants, and bacteria.  That’s a great way to help students understand classification essays.  The writer will break down a topic into different groups and categories.  The categories should have specific criteria and be explained in detail.  Then the writer will explain each category further including providing ideas and examples. 

For example, if we look at living things on earth we usually break them into bacteria, plants, and animals.  Each of these categories has predetermined criteria when you look up their definitions.  Bacteria are microscopic, unicellular, independently reproducing, and free-living.  Each part of this definition can be explained and used as a criterion for the bacteria category.

Graphic organizers for classification essays should help students identify categories of classification and the criteria for each category.  Then it should leave room for detailed notes of each category.

What are Graphic Organizers and Where Can I Get Them?

Graphic organizers can be a powerful writing tool when we choose the best graphic organizer for the type of expository writing our students are working on.  The two simply go hand and hand.  If you would like graphic organizers for each type of expository writing be sure to grab them.  

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Here is Your FREE Prompt for Writing Poetry

I know that you needed a prompt to help kickstart your students’ writing.  Here is an entire lesson for FREE.  My Our School Poem guides students through using sensory language to describe their school. The step-by-step directions guide your class through the writing process with all the necessary worksheets making this the perfect lesson for your classroom.

How to Teach Students to Perform a Credible Sources Check in 7 Easy Steps

Our students need to learn how to perform a credible sources check because there is so much information in the world that is often false.  All-day long we are bombarded with information from news, radio, social media, and peers.  Just because someone says something doesn’t make it true.  When our students practice credible sources and check for a paper they are actually practicing a vital life skill.

The Credible Sources Check I Use Daily

Whenever I scroll through my social media feeds I see all sorts of news stories, and some of them are fascinating, as I talk with my husband about this “news” I will often say “because if it’s on social media it must be true.  As adults, we have learned to be skeptical of the information we come in contact with.  We wonder if it is true or biased.  We ask ourselves who said it and if they can be trusted.

Credible Sources Check is a Life Skill in a Fake News World

Fake news has roots as a literary device and the genre of satire.  Satire is when we use humor, exaggeration, irony, and ridicule or teasing. Satire is used to criticize people’s lack of common sense or vices.  It’s often focused on politics, but not always.  There are entire websites that are devoted to satirical news such as The Onion.

There is also fake news.  I like to think of fake news as more of a rumor mill, but the mill is all on social media and the internet.  One person says something that sounds true and it quickly gets repeated and shared across social media, spreading like wildfire.  The scary thing is that people don’t question it.

Clickbait is another online trap that can be filled with fake news.  Website creators can get paid per click on their site.  If they create articles that sound good then people will click, read, and believe.  It could be all fake news, but it’s getting them paid.

If you need some examples of fake sites check out these with your students.

What are Credible Sources?

Credible sources are written by an expert in their field of study and are free from errors and bias.  A credible source includes evidence and the sources of that evidence. There are five points of criteria that make a source credible.  We will dive into a detailed explanation later.

  • Authority 
  • Currency
  • Content
  • Accuracy
  • Bias

There are three types of sources.

  • Primary Sources – a first-hand account of someone who has experienced or witnessed the event.  There is no outside interpretation.  It is an original unpublished document.
  • Secondary Sources – a second-hand account of the events.  The author examines, interprets, and draws conclusions about the event based on a primary source.
  • Tertiary Sources – led the researcher to secondary sources through catalogs, indexes, and bibliographies.

More Helpful Articles About Performing a Credible Sources Check

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Why it’s Important to Teach Students How to Perform a Credible Sources Check

Of course, students need to be able to identify credible sources for academic writing.  Identifying credible sources is a skill that will last them far beyond their academic careers. 

Students haven’t yet developed a sense of skepticism that causes them to question the information they research and come into contact with daily.  We are flooded with information each day and we have to determine if the information is real and accurate or not.  

There is more fake news out in the world than ever before and it’s become extremely easy to spread it.  Our students need to know and understand that not all information they see is true and they will have to determine what is real or not.

Students may also struggle to accept reliable and accurate information that is new to them.  The information may contradict something they already thought and believed, which is challenging for them to let of for new information.  This means we have to teach them to have an open, but skeptical mind.

  • They will need to recognize and evaluate ideas they would usually ignore.
  • They will need to determine if the information is useful and reliable to prove or disprove their previous ideas.
  • They will need to be open to accepting that their original thinking can be proven inaccurate based on the credible source’s information.

7 Tips for a Credible Sources Check

There are seven simple ways that we can determine quickly that a source should be credible.  I’ve added two additional ones to the list I shared earlier.  These are simple to teach students to look at.

  1. Keywords

Keywords are what you type into a search engine to find the information you want.  Being able to use the right keywords well will help your students find credible sources.  So often I have to walk students through the search process because what they want to do is type the whole question into the search engine rather than a few keywords.

  1. Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs )

gTLDs look crazy weird, but it is really just how a website address ends.  Most of these endings had been originally intended for a specific use, but over time that has changed.  Understanding these addresses can help your students find more accurate information.  Here are the Generic Top-Level Domains. 

  • .com (commercial): This gTLD is the most common and was originally intended for commercial purposes or businesses.  However, now many websites use .com so students must critically consider site credibility. 
  • .net (network): This gTLD was originally intended for network sites such as internet providers and infrastructure companies.  However, now anyone can have a .net and it is fairly common.  Students need to carefully evaluate the credibility of .net sites. 
  • .gov (government): This gTLD is restricted for government use only.  It is not a public domain that anyone can purchase, which is why (.gov) sites are considered a reliable source and often where students can find statistics. 
  • .org (organization): Originally this gTLD was intended for non-profit organizations, but anyone can purchase this domain and people have.  Students must carefully check the credibility of these sites.
  • .edu (education): This gTLD is usually used by universities and schools.  Generally, .edu sites are considered credible sources since they are from universities and schools.  Often researchers will publish their papers and findings through their university’s site.  Students should still check to make sure that a .edu site is part of a real educational institution.
  1. Currency

Information can be out of date.  The more we learn as a society the quicker information expires.  When your students search online they should make sure the sites are current and updated regularly.  They should make sure that statistics are the most recent ones they can find unless they are looking for historical data.

  1. Content 

The content of the page is hopefully what made your students want to use the information from the website they are on.  Here are some things your students should consider about the information on a website or its content.

  1. Is it relevant to their topic?
  2. Is it age-appropriate for them?
  3. Is it written in an academic or scholarly language?
  4. How valuable is this site’s information for the topic they are researching?
  1. Authority

This is an extremely important question when considering if a source is credible. Students need to know who wrote the article or website they are looking at and if that person is an expert in their field of study and the topic they are writing about.  They need to know about the author’s publishing and citing background.  If the author has been cited by other authors or books then the article is more likely to be credible.  It’s also important to know if the author has written other articles and books about the topic in their field of study.  And finally, students should know who the publisher is.

  1. Accuracy 

What good is a source if the information is inaccurate?  Students need to learn to dig deeper into their topics to make sure that the information is accurate and credible. Does the author explain the evidence that leads them to the information?  Can the information be cross-checked against other sources to make sure it’s accurate?  If they look at the bibliography then they should recognize the other authors or publishers or look into them.  If the sources of information for their article are inaccurate then their article is definitely inaccurate. Does the article say it was peer-reviewed, meaning that other people in that field of study read, considered, and researched information about that topic as well to make sure it was accurate?

  1. Bias

Every author is biased in some ways.  It’s impossible to not have opinions and life experiences that impact the way we think.  As researchers, we are asked to put our biases aside and focus on the information.  Students need to be sure their credible sources are also working to put their bias to the side and focus on the information.  Here are a few questions they can consider.

  1. Is it sponsored, meaning someone paid money for it to exist?
  2. Is the author trying to sell anything?
  3. Do other experts agree with the author?  If your students look at 10 sources and only one person states the “facts” they are looking at using they should rethink using that information as a credible source.

Modeling, Checklists, and Prompts for a Credible Sources Check

If you just tell your students the information above and tell them to make sure their sources are credible they will likely fail.  Students need more support to successfully learn how to perform a credible sources check.  

Model a Credible Sources Check

Model a credible sources check for your students.  Take time to walk your students through a credible sources check on some credible sites and some not credible sites to show your students how to do it.  Want some ideas of things to show your students on these sites?

How to Verify or Refute Information

Show your students how to cross-check a fact that may seem inaccurate.  Show them how to look on another site to determine if the information is true

Investigate Who the Author is

Show your students how to look on a website for the about the author information or go back to the search engine and look the author up.  Students should be able to quickly see if the author is an expert in their field of study.  

Determine Bias 

Students need to be able to spot biased information.  Is the author able to remain unbiased as they write about the topic?  Since they just looked up the author they should know the answer to that question.  They should also consider the questions we looked at earlier.

  1. Is it sponsored, meaning someone paid money for it to exist?
  2. Is the author trying to sell anything?
  3. Do other experts agree with the author?  If your students look at 10 sources and only one person states the “facts” they are looking at using they should rethink using that information as a credible source.
Credible Sources Check of Differing Perspectives

Sometimes we come across sources that have split information on a topic.  There are two or more groups of people who believe their information is correct and is backed up by other authors.  Students need to be able to navigate this information to determine which is the most accurate. Cross-checking information isn’t always enough to determine credibility.  It takes good judgment and practice to determine who to trust, and we aren’t always right.

There is another perspective challenge for students.  Students will often find perspectives that don’t match their own.  This can be a real challenge for them to find information that goes against what they always believed.  

Credible Source Check Checklists 

Checklists are a great tool for students to determine if a source is credible.  As they read the site they simply check off what they think for each item.  Some checklists follow a score method which means that if the source gets so many points it’s considered more or less credible.

If you’d like a credible source to check the checklist you can find mine here.

Prompts for a Credible Sources Check

Some teachers find that checklists are too complex and messy.  They prefer to help their students use question prompts for a credible sources check.  Prompts can help students think more critically about their sources rather than just check off a few questions.

If you’d like prompts for a credible sources to check then you can grab yours here.

I feel that both checklists and prompts are useful in the classroom.  Depending on the grade level or even the class of students each year you might feel one works better than the other.  However, every student is different and so they may need different tools to get their writing done.  I have bundled these two resources together for you in case you’d like both.

Talking About Plagiarism After Teaching Credible Sources Check

After you have talked to your students about credible sources it’s a good time to talk about plagiarism.  We cannot assume that our students know what plagiarism is.

Plagiarism uses someone else’s ideas, words, or information without giving them credit for their work.  

Students can easily plagiarize by mistake. I once had a student who was a poor writer that would copy whole paragraphs from the textbook.  They included the correct answers, but it was literally word for word from the text.  He didn’t even realize that it was wrong to copy from the textbook like this.

On top of teaching students what plagiarism is, we need to teach them how to use the information they are gathering.  Some of the ways they may use the information are

  • Quotes giving proper credit to the author.
  • Rephrasing or paraphrasing writing while giving proper credit to the author.
  • Extracting information from multiple sources and combining it to create an original thought or idea.  They should still give proper credit to the authors.

Extracting information to create an original thought supported by quotes and paraphrasing is what we really want our students to be doing.  It will take time and practice for them to learn how.

Credible Source Check Activities

Credible source check activities are short activities that help students practice the skills we’ve talked about.  

  1. Fact or Fiction

Give students a list of websites to examine and have them determine which sites are fact and which are fiction.  Feel free to award points to teams of students, or make it a race to see who can identify the site first with evidence supporting their fact or fiction claim.   You can challenge students to find the most pieces of evidence proving the site is fact or fiction.

  1. Credibility Ranker

Have students rank sites by credibility.  This would work great with the credibility checklist.  Students can determine how credible they think the site is.  The best part of this activity is that it relies on student judgment.  Different students will judge each site differently, which leads to great conversations about credibility.

  1. Bias Buster

We have talked about how the author’s bias can destroy an article’s credibility and a student’s bias can make them trust or distrust a site too quickly.  Pick a topic students are passionate about like longer school days or shorter school weeks and have students look at 5 sites for and 5 sites against the topic.  Students will have to look past their own bias at the facts presented to determine if the sites are credible and how credible they are.

  1. Fact Checker

Give students “facts” from celebrities, politicians, or regular people and have the students fact-check the information.  They can see if the facts are real or if the politicians and celebrities actually said what you alleged.  They will practice cross-checking facts and maybe debate with some classmates.

  1. Busting Lies

Your students will love this activity because they get to try to trick their classmates.  It’s similar to the dictionary game where everyone comes up with a fake definition for a word and one person tries to guess the real definition.  In this game, students will slip fake information into a paragraph or speech to share with the class and the class has to bust the liar.

Credible Source Check and Citing

Once your students have evaluated their sources and decided to use those sources in their work we have to teach them how to cite their sources.  There are many styles that can be used to cite a source.  The citation style is what information to include from a source and what order to put that information in. Here are some of the most common citation styles.

  • APA (American Psychology Association)
  • MLA (Modern Languages Association)
  • Harvard
  • Chicago

It doesn’t matter which one you choose, but if you want to help your students in the future then talk to the middle school and high school teachers to see what citation style they teach.

Likely your students are just learning how to cite a source.  As you start teaching citing sources it’s okay to have them use the title and author for their first paper, and then add more requirements for the next paper.

One final recommendation when it comes to citing sources.  Have you heard of the website easybib?  Easybib allows students to type in the source information and then it orders that information in the correct format for your students.

More Poetry and Writing Articles

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Here is Your FREE Prompt for Writing Poetry

I know that you needed a prompt to help kickstart your students’ writing.  Here is an entire lesson for FREE.  My Our School Poem guides students through using sensory language to describe their school. The step-by-step directions guide your class through the writing process with all the necessary worksheets making this the perfect lesson for your classroom.

How to Teach Students to Perform a Credible Sources Check in 7 Easy Steps

Our students need to learn how to perform a credible sources check because there is so much information in the world that is often false.  All-day long we are bombarded with information from news, radio, social media, and peers.  Just because someone says something doesn’t make it true.  When our students practice credible sources check for a paper they are actually practicing a vital life skill.

The Credible Sources Check I Use Daily

Whenever I scroll through my social media feeds I see all sorts of news stories, some of them are very interesting, as I talk with my husband about this “news” I will often say “because if it’s on social media it must be true.  As adults, we have learned to be skeptical of the information we come in contact with.  We wonder if it is true or biased.  We ask ourselves who said it and if they can be trusted.

Credible Sources Check is a Life Skill in a Fake News World

Fake news has roots as a literary device and the genre of satire.  Satire is when we use humor, exaggeration, irony, and ridicule or teasing. Satire is used to criticize people’s lack of common sense or vices.  It’s often focused on politics, but not always.  There are entire websites that are devoted to satirical news such as The Onion.

There is also fake news.  I like to think of fake news as more of a rumor mill, but the mill is all of social media and the internet.  One person says something that sounds true and it quickly gets repeated and shared across social media, spreading like wildfire.  The scary thing is that people don’t question it.

Clickbait is another online trap that can be filled with fake news.  Website creators can get paid per click on their site.  If they create articles that sound good then people will click, read, and believe.  It could be all fake news, but it’s getting them paid.

If you need some examples of fake sites check out these with your students.

What are Credible Sources?

Credible sources are written by an expert in their field of study and are free from errors and bias.  A credible source includes evidence and the sources of that evidence. There are five points of criteria that make a source credible.  We will dive into a detailed explanation later.

  • Authority 
  • Currency
  • Content
  • Accuracy
  • Bias

There are three types of sources.

  • Primary Sources – a first-hand account of someone who has experienced or witnessed the event.  There is no outside interpretation.  It is an original unpublished document.
  • Secondary Sources – a second-hand account of the events.  The author examines, interprets, and draws conclusions about the event based on a primary source.
  • Tertiary Sources – led the researcher to secondary sources through catalogs, indexes, and bibliographies.

More Helpful Articles About Performing a Credible Sources Check

Credible Sources and How to Spot Them

How Do I Know If My Souces are Credible/Reliable?

How to Tell If a Website is Credible

Why it’s Important to Teach Students How to Perform a Credible Sources Check

Of course, students need to be able to identify credible sources for academic writing.  Identifying credible sources is a skill that will last them far beyond their academic careers. 

Students haven’t yet developed a sense of skepticism that causes them to question the information they research and come into contact with daily.  We are flooded with information each day and we have to determine if the information is real and accurate or not.  

There is more fake news out in the world than ever before and it’s become extremely easy to spread it.  Our students need to know and understand that not all information they see is true and they will have to determine what is real or not.

Students may also struggle to accept reliable and accurate information that is new to them.  The information may contradict something they already thought and believed, which is challenging for them to let of for new information.  This means we have to teach them to have an open, but skeptical mind.

  • They will need to recognize and evaluate ideas they would usually ignore.
  • They will need to determine if the information is useful and reliable to prove or disprove their previous ideas.
  • They will need to be open to accepting that their original thinking can be proven inaccurate based on the credible source’s information.

7 Tips for a Credible Sources Check

There are seven simple ways that we can determine quickly that a source should be credible.  I’ve added two additional ones to the list I shared earlier.  These are simple to teach students to look at.

  1. Keywords

Keywords are what you type into a search engine to find the information you want.  Being able to use the right keywords well will help your students find credible sources.  So often I have to walk students through the search process because what they want to do is type the whole question into the search engine rather than a few keywords.

  1. Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs )

gTLDs look crazy weird, but it is really just how a website address ends.  Most of these endings had been originally intended for a specific use, but over time that has changed.  Understanding these addresses can help your students find more accurate information.  Here are the Generic Top-Level Domains. 

  • .com (commercial): This gTLD is the most common and was originally intended for commercial purposes or businesses.  However, now many websites use .com so students must critically consider site credibility. 
  • .net (network): This gTLD was originally intended for network sites such as internet providers and infrastructure companies.  However, now anyone can have a .net and it is fairly common.  Students need to carefully evaluate the credibility of .net sites. 
  • .gov (government): This gTLD is restricted for government use only.  It is not a public domain that anyone can purchase, which is why (.gov) sites are considered a reliable source and often where students can find statistics. 
  • .org (organization): Originally this gTLD was intended for non-profit organizations, but anyone can purchase this domain and people have.  Students must carefully check the credibility of these sites.
  • .edu (education): This gTLD is usually used by universities and schools.  Generally, .edu sites are considered credible sources since they are from universities and schools.  Often researchers will publish their papers and findings through their university’s site.  Students should still check to make sure that a .edu site is part of a real educational institution.
  1. Currency

Information can be out of date.  The more we learn as a society the quicker information expires.  When your students search online they should make sure the sites are current and updated regularly.  They should make sure that statistics are the most recent ones they can find unless they are looking for historical data.

  1. Content 

The content of the page is hopefully what made your students want to use the information from the website they are on.  Here are some things your students should consider about the information on a website or its content.

  1. Is it relevant to their topic?
  2. Is it age-appropriate for them?
  3. Is it written in an academic or scholarly language?
  4. How valuable is this site’s information for the topic they are researching?
  1. Authority

This is an extremely important question when considering if a source is credible. Students need to know who wrote the article or website they are looking at and if that person is an expert in their field of study and the topic they are writing about.  They need to know about the author’s publishing and citing background.  If the author has been cited by other authors or books then the article is more likely to be credible.  It’s also important to know if the author has written other articles and books about the topic in their field of study.  And finally, students should know who the publisher is.

  1. Accuracy 

What good is a source if the information is inaccurate?  Students need to learn to dig deeper into their topics to make sure that the information is accurate and credible. Does the author explain the evidence that leads them to the information?  Can the information be cross-checked against other sources to make sure it’s accurate?  If they look at the bibliography then they should recognize the other authors or publishers or look into them.  If the sources of information for their article are inaccurate then their article is definitely inaccurate. Does the article say it was peer-reviewed, meaning that other people in that field of study read, considered, and researched information about that topic as well to make sure it was accurate?

  1. Bias

Every author is biased in some ways.  It’s impossible to not have opinions and life experiences that impact the way we think.  As researchers, we are asked to put our biases aside and focus on the information.  Students need to be sure their credible sources are also working to put their bias to the side and focus on the information.  Here are a few questions they can consider.

  1. Is it sponsored, meaning someone paid money for it to exist?
  2. Is the author trying to sell anything?
  3. Do other experts agree with the author?  If your students look at 10 sources and only one person states the “facts” they are looking at using they should rethink using that information as a credible source.

Modeling, Checklists, and Prompts for a Credible Sources Check

If you just tell your students the information above and tell them to make sure their sources are credible they will likely fail.  Students need more support to successfully learn how to perform a credible sources check.  

Model a Credible Sources Check

Model a credible sources check for your students.  Take time to walk your students through a credible sources check on some credible sites and some not credible sites to show your students how to do it.  Want some ideas of things to show your students on these sites?

How to Verify or Refute Information

Show your students how to cross-check a fact that may seem inaccurate.  Show them how to look on another site to determine if the information is true

Investigate Who the Author is

Show your students how to look on a website for the about the author information or go back to the search engine and look the author up.  Students should be able to quickly see if the author is an expert in their field of study.  

Determine Bias 

Students need to be able to spot biased information.  Is the author able to remain unbiased as they write about the topic?  Since they just looked up the author they should know the answer to that question.  They should also consider the questions we looked at earlier.

  1. Is it sponsored, meaning someone paid money for it to exist?
  2. Is the author trying to sell anything?
  3. Do other experts agree with the author?  If your students look at 10 sources and only one person states the “facts” they are looking at using they should rethink using that information as a credible source.
Credible Sources Check of Differing Perspectives

Sometime we come across sources that have split information on a topic.  There are two or more groups of people who believe their information is correct and it is backed up by other authors.  Students need to be able to navigate this information to determine which is the most accurate. Cross-checking information isn’t always enough to determine credibility.  It takes good judgment and practice to determine who to trust, and we aren’t always right.

There is another perspectives challenge for students.  Students will often find perspectives that don’t match their own.  This can be a real challenge for them to find information that goes against what they always believed.  

Credible Source Check Checklists 

Checklists are a great tool for students to determine if a source is credible.  As they read the site they simply check off what they think for each item.  Some checklists follow a score method which means that if the source gets so many points it’s considered more or less credible.

If you’d like a credible sources check checklist you can find mine here.

Prompts for a Credible Sources Check

Some teachers find that checklists are too complex and messy.  They prefer to help their students use question prompts for a credible sources check.  Prompts can help students think more critically about their sources rather than just check off a few questions.

If you’d like prompts for a credible sources check then you can grab yours here.

I feel that both checklists and prompts are useful in the classroom.  Depending on the grade level or even the class of students each year you might feel one works better than the other.  However, every student is different and so they may need different tools to get their writing done.  I have bundled these two resources together for you in case you’d like both.

Talking About Plagiarism After Teaching Credible Sources Check

After you have talked to your students about credible sources it’s a good time to talk about plagiarism.  We cannot assume that our students know what plagiarism is.

Plagiarism uses someone else’s ideas, words, or information without giving them credit for their work.  

Students can easily plagiarize by mistake. I once had a student who was a poor writer that would copy whole paragraphs from the textbook.  They included the correct answers, but it was literally word for word from the text.  He didn’t even realize that it was wrong to copy from the textbook like this.

On top of teaching students what plagiarism is, we need to teach them how to use the information they are gathering.  Some of the ways they may use the information are

  • Quotes giving proper credit to the author.
  • Rephrasing or paraphrasing writing while giving proper credit to the author.
  • Extracting information from multiple sources and combining it to create an original thought or idea.  They should still give proper credit to the authors.

Extracting information to create an original thought supported by quotes and paraphrasing is what we really want our students to be doing.  It will take time and practice for them to learn how.

Credible Source Check Activities

Credible source check activities are short activities that help students practice the skills we’ve talked about.  

  1. Fact or Fiction

Give students a list of websites to examine and have them determine which sites are fact and which are fiction.  Feel free to award points to teams of students, or make it a race to see who can identify the site first with evidence supporting their fact or fiction claim.   You can challenge students to find the most pieces of evidence proving the site is fact or fiction.

  1. Credibility Ranker

Have students rank sites by credibility.  This would work great with the credibility checklist.  Students can determine how credible they think the site is.  The best part of this activity is that it relies on student judgment.  Different students will judge each site differently, which leads to great conversations about credibility.

  1. Bias Buster

We have talked about how the author’s bias can destroy an article’s credibility and a student’s bias can make them trust or distrust a site too quickly.  Pick a topic students are passionate about like longer school days or shorter school weeks and have students look at 5 sites for and 5 sites against the topic.  Students will have to look past their own bias at the facts presented to determine if the sites are credible and how credible they are.

  1. Fact Checker

Give students “facts” from celebrities, politicians, or regular people and have the students fact check the information.  They can see if the facts are real or if the politicians and celebrities actually said what you alleged.  They will practice cross-checking facts and maybe debate with some classmates.

  1. Busting Lies

Your students will love this activity because they get to try to trick their classmates.  It’s similar to the dictionary game where everyone comes up with a fake definition for a word and one person tries to guess the real definition.  In this game, students will slip fake information into a paragraph or speech to share with the class and the class has to bust the liar.

Credible Source Check and Citing

Once you’re students have evaluated their sources and decided to use those sources in their work we have to teach them how to cite their sources.  There are many styles that can be used to cite a source.  The citation style is what information to include from a source and what order to put that information in. Here are some of the most common citation styles.

  • APA (American Psychology Association)
  • MLA (Modern Languages Association)
  • Harvard
  • Chicago

It doesn’t matter which one you choose, but if you want to help your students in the future then talk to the middle school and high school teachers to see what citation style they teach.

Likely your students are just learning how to cite a source.  As you start teaching citing sources it’s okay to have them use the title and author for their first paper, and then add more requirements for the next paper.

One final recommendation when it comes to citing sources.  Have you heard of the website easybib?  Easybib allows students to type in the source information and then it orders that information in the correct format for your students.

More Poetry and Writing Articles

Blog 68

Blog 69

Blog 70

How Teach Writing More Effectively to Students Easily With Writer’s Workshop

5 Incredible Benefits of Teaching Poetry and Writing

Here is Your FREE Prompt for Writing Poetry

I know that you needed a prompt to help kickstart your students’ writing.  Here is an entire lesson for FREE.  My Our School Poem guides students through using sensory language to describe their school. The step-by-step directions guide your class through the writing process with all the necessary worksheets making this the perfect lesson for your classroom.