Expository Samples – Our Favorite Time of Year

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 7.15.00 PMWell, hello there!  I promised you that I would post more writing samples before the holidays…so I’m keeping up with my end of the bargain!

As soon as we came back from Thanksgiving break, my students were challenged with coming up with their own text structures for their next piece of writing.  I told them that they would be writing an expository piece about their favorite time of year, but that the rest was up to them.

I was surprised at how easily some of them came up with their own structures!  It’s only December, and they are already taking that risk and doing a pretty good job with it!  My heart is full!

Now…we still have a LONG way to go…but again, it’s DECEMBER!

So…here they are.  I chose my favorite four to share with you.  We are still working on adding in quality details, but I felt that these four students especially did a great job of painting a picture of what these holidays look like and why they enjoy the festivities that accompany them.

Click here to download a copy! Feel free to print them and use them in your classroom for teaching purposes.  I know I’ll be doing the same!Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 7.14.52 PM

One thing that I found helpful was to ask them to do two things: tell what they can do and what it looks like.  That simple.  My kids are having a hard time expanding on their topic sentence, but with these instructions, they were able to add more sentences and some quality details that didn’t just simply restate what they had already said.

So it goes like this: I like spending time with my family. (What can you do?) I get to decorate the tree, put decorations all over the house, and help my mom wrap presents. (What does that look like?) Every year we take all the ornaments out of the attic and hang them on our Christmas tree.  I always get to put the star on top!  We also hang our stockings, put the advent calendar up, and take out the cookie plate for Santa.  My favorite part is wrapping presents with my mom.  That’s always fun!

Just by asking those two simple questions, students can begin painting a vivid picture of what that looks like…and all the while explaining why they like their topic. It was sort of an “ah hah” moment in my classroom.

You should try it.  I would love to hear what your students come up with!  Hopefully this can help your kiddos explain a little better, too!

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 7.14.42 PMNext up: Pitchforks!  If they can use pitchforks to explain what they can do and what it looks like, then they can add a sentence for each part of their pitchfork.  And voila!  A well-developed paragraph with carefully chosen details.  That’s at least a 3 (6 combined score) in the making right there!  :)

If you have papers from your kiddos that you would like to share, I would LOVE to hear them!  You can email me with an attachment through my “About” page.  And if you’ll let me, I’ll feature your kids right here.  We all love to learn from each other!

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas that brings fun, family, laughter, and joy to you and yours!

Until next time….

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I See HUGE Improvement!!

Whew!  We finally finished our first “real” piece of writing this week and celebrated today!  Woo hoo!!

While these aren’t even close to perfect, they are a HUGE improvement from the writing sample I took the first week of school.  My heart is full!

We started with three kernel essays.  I didn’t give a prompt…and won’t for awhile…so it was their choice.  From there, we chose one to take into drafting.  We filled out our flipbooks (which you have seen if you’ve been following) and added as many details as we could.  Then it was time for revision stations.  Although it didn’t go as smoothly as I had hoped, they DID add some details while rotating around the room to each station.  We’ll get there. 😉

To my surprise, my kiddos were able to complete their published piece in one day.  That made up for some lost time!!  Today we celebrated by walking around the room and reading papers that were laid out on our desks and made positive comments about them.  Tomorrow we will go over some common trends and talk about how to make this next one EVEN BETTER!  I can’t wait!

But…I needed to show off their hard work.  I’m so stinkin’ proud of how far they have come with just ONE lesson from Gretchen Bernabei’s book.  Have I told you that her strategies are EASY and FUN for everyone involved?  Just take a look for yourself….

Oh, and if you click on the pictures, you can see them much larger and actually read them.  :)

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I don’t have room to show off EVERYONE, but I thought you might enjoy seeing a small sampling of awesomeness.  Y’all…this is HUGE!  Can you even believe this transformation?  This is going to be an AH-MAZING year!  I can’t wait to see what our future holds!

How are your kiddos doing?  Are you using Gretchen’s strategies?  You should be… 😉

Ta ta for now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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More 11-Minute Essays (In 10 Minutes)

Last year I blogged about our 11-minute essays inspired by the one and only: Gretchen Bernabei.  My kids loved it SO much, and it really helped them see that they could write A LOT in a very short amount of time.

So…it’s only fitting that I carry on the tradition this year, too.  I used the same truism picture as I did with my kids for the first time last year.  You can download a copy (FREE!) of 70 pictures with truisms…in English AND Spanish…by clicking here.  We used #11: Pets can be a big part of a family.

Because 4th graders don’t have the knowledge or experiences of most kids in junior high (which is what Gretchen teaches), I modified her 11-minute essay to fit their needs.

HERE ARE 4 SAMPLES FROM OUR FIRST ATTEMPT AT A 10 MINUTE ESSAY.  Remember: They have not been revised…it’s just a quick 10 minute piece of writing!  😉

Step #1: Talk to students about truisms. (These are the sentences under the pictures.)  Truisms are statements that are generally true in most situations.  Even if it isn’t true for you, there are many other people in the world who agree with a truism.

Step #2: Once you’ve chosen the truism you want your kids to write about, project it on the board.  Tell them to look at it and begin to think about what it says.  Their job will be to tell you how they know this is true.

Step #3: Give students 2 minutes to write only about the truism itself.  They should give information about the truism, or they may simply copy the truism.  When time gets to about 15 seconds, tell students to wrap up what they are saying.  As the timer goes off, tell them to finish the sentence where they are, and remember to put a punctuation mark at the end.

Step #4:  Tell students to drop down to the next line and indent for the next paragraph.  Give students 3 minutes to write about how this is true in their own life or in a book they have read.  I like to let them know when they have 2 minutes, 1 minute, and 30 seconds left.  Repeat the wrap up warning and punctuation reminder when time is up.

Step #5: Tell students to drop down to the next line and indent for the next paragraph.  Give students 3 minutes to write about how this is true in a movie or a TV show they have watched.  Repeat warnings and reminders.

Step #6: Tell students to drop down to the next line for the last paragraph.  Give students 2 minutes to write about what this makes them think or wonder.

Step #7: Have students count their words and write the number at the top and circle it.

And there you have it…a 10 minute expository essay!

What does this do for your kids?  Well…lots of things.  For one, it helps them to see that it doesn’t take TWO WHOLE WEEKS to produce a nice piece of writing.  Yeah…some kids will write more for you in that 10 minutes than they’ve written…EVER!  Gotta love that!

It gives them some practice with writing an expository piece.  And even though they may not have realized it as they were going, they are writing from a text structure: Truism –> How it’s true in my life/book –> How it’s true in a movie/TV show –> This makes me think…

This activity helps them to build confidence in themselves.

How many words did you just write in 10 minutes?  Over 100?  WHAT?  Yeah…that’s a pretty cool feeling.  And the more you do it…the more they write.  It becomes a competition within themselves to see how many more words they can write each time.  And inevitably, a class competition to see who can write the MOST words of all!  :)

But most importantly, the kids enjoy it and have fun with it.  And that’s what writing is all about, right?!?!

 

Have you ever used this activity with your kids?  If so, I would LOVE to hear about it.  How is it similar?  Different?  Leave a comment below to let everyone know how this works in YOUR classroom!

If you ever have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments or email me or find me on Facebook and message me.  I love hearing from you!

Until next time…

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Narrative Writing Sample from STAAR 2013

Ladies and gentlemen, let me share with you an awesome narrative paper written to the 2013 STAAR prompt.

We gave our students a benchmark back at the beginning of February, and their prompts were the released STAAR prompts from last year.  One of my students wrote an AH-mazing paper about the simplest thing–getting a positive note home to her parents in her behavior folder from the teacher next door.

I thought this one was worth sharing.  There are lots of lessons that can be taught using this piece, including vocabulary, idioms, and mostly–how to write long about a small moment or something that seems insignificant to most…something that makes the paper so incredibly interesting.  :)

Click here to download and/or view.  Congrats to Sherlyn, the author!  Isn’t she just awesome?!

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More Expository Writing Samples (4th Grade)

Whew!  I’ve been sitting for a couple of hours typing up some expository writing samples from my kids since so many people are still needing lots of examples.  And…of course…I can use them in my class, too.  It’s great to use REAL student writing in class to show what is working and what isn’t.

Some of you have asked when we started expository writing–well, we began way back in October.  We flip back and forth throughout the year between the two types of writing.  We spend an average of 4-5 weeks on narrative, and then move on to expository, and so on.  Now that we are getting closer and closer to test time, we are only spending a couple of weeks on each.  There are even days/weeks where we do both.  I’ll be posting soon about an activity called “Genre Switch” where kids write for just a small amount of time in both genres.

For now, I’m posting several expository writing pieces that my students have written to various topics.  Some of these were written as their choice of 3 writing prompts, and others were written on the students’ last writing benchmark.  The benchmark prompt was the prompt that our students were given last year on their STAAR test (our official standardized test–for those of you who don’t live in Texas).

I had already given them that topic as a choice, so some of them already had prior experience writing to that topic.  The funny thing about it is: most of them wrote something completely different, even though I’ve told them that they don’t have to…and frankly, if they have already had positive feedback, they should write the same thing, but even better the next time around!

So, without further ado…here they are:

Christmas Eve by Daniel

Dance Season by Aaliyah

Fantastic Friends by Blake

Folklorico by Daniella

Football by Chris R

Friends by Abram

Friends by Gasseli

Go Meet Your Teacher Night by Avery

HALLOWEEN by Gasseli

Summer by Annaleah

Summer by Kylie

Winter by Sherlyn

These samples are simply in alphabetical order.  They are not grouped by topic or by awesomeness.  You can pick and choose which ones you want to use, or you can print them all and use all of them with your kiddos and talk about what was great and what needs improvement.  You could even use them with some revising and editing!

Some of you have waited patiently for me to finally get these posted…for that…THANK YOU!  It takes some time to get these gathered up, pick out which ones should be posted, type them, and get them up on the blog.  Please feel free to share these with other people that you know.  They will always be right here on my blog, so you can always save paper and just project them from here.

As always, my students (and I) love your feedback!  If there was something that you really liked, please leave a comment letting us know!  I show my blog to my students so that they can see who is showcased and how many people around the world are looking at their AH-mazing work!  😉

ENJOY!

Other posts you might like:

Expository Writing at its Finest; Expository Writing Samples; The First Installment of Writing Samples; Narrative vs. Expository Writing

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Expository Writing At Its Finest!

Another quick post tonight. I just HAD to share this with you. One of my 4th graders wrote this paper about her lifetime friend, and it is beautiful…just beautiful! The prompt was to explain why friends are important. Here goes:

Before I went to school friends were my smooth, plastic, pretty dolls. The ones I would have tea parties with, show my new teeth to, and the ones I would tell my fears to. Even though they were plastic, they were important to me, not only were they my friends they were my whole childhood.

Once I got to 2nd grade I got a beautiful pal that really meant a lot to me.  Surprizingly she was not plastic, and her name was *Molly*.  She made me think, “Wow, she is so fun, smart, and cool.” (Boom, triple compliment!) And the one I would share secrets with, show our wiggly teeth to, and share our journeys with.

Now that I am in fourth grade she is still my fun, crazy, funny, pretty, best friend.  And she still means the world to me.  We have sobbed together, cackled together, and we have been on a long journey together.  We have changed but our friendship has not.  Now we talk about gymnastics, fashion, celebraties, and things we never thought of before.

In the future i hope we could still be besties so we can go shopping, on a vacation, and even to college together and we can talk about our future together.  Even if we are not friends in the future, I will always remember my pretty, sweet, funny and cute best sister by heart.

WOW!  Isn’t that amazing?!?!  A FOURTH GRADER WROTE THAT!!!  I’m attaching this in PDF format for you to share with your students if you need some writing to share.  😉  You can download it here.

**Just a reminder that you can enter my TpT giveaway until 2/6.  You can get an extra 2 entries every day that you tweet about it!  Enter here.

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