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….



  1. Lynne Garcia says:

    Happy New Year! I love all your ideas about writing and appreciate all that you share. I saw your two different scope and sequence plans on TPT. Which one do you recommend for me to purchase? Are they different ideas? I will see what you say before I purchase one.

    Also, do you have any good suggestions for expository writing formats? Ideas ? Ways to teach?

    • Kayla Shook says:

      Hi, Lynne!

      My scopes are different…one is for the writing portion and the other is for the mechanics and grammar portion of Writer’s Workshop. That’s why there are two. 😉

      I HIGHLY recommend using Gretchen Bernabei’s work to teach writing and grammar. I’ve noticed a HUGE improvement in my students after using it. I’ve used several different methods, and I can honestly say that my kids understand more (and at a higher level), have more fun, and enjoy writing and grammar time much more since I began implementing it. It’s also much more fun to TEACH…and so much easier, too! Gretchen makes the art if writing make sense!

      So….if you don’t have her books, you should get them. I would recommend Fun Size Academic Writing and Grammar Keepers to start. It will change your life. I promise!!! That’s what my scopes are based on, but you could use other resources and still use it as a pacing guide. The commons misconceptions and take-always are the same, no matter which methods you use, but if you get the books, your lesson plans are basically done for you. There is lots of information on my blog about the things you will see in the scopes, and I’m always here to answer questions if you need help! :)

      I wish you the best semester yet! Happy new year!

    • Kayla Shook says:

      Oh….and your question about writing formats…I use text structures, which you will find in Gretchen’s books. Then we write kernel essays from that. Then all that is left is to fill in with details that we call writer’s tools. You can search for those terms here on my blog and you will see some posts to help you understand that. :) And one more thing…I am now a certified trainer for Gretchen, and I present all over the state…and hopefully nationwide starting this summer! If your district needs additional help, I could always come do a training! :) If that isn’t possible, Gretchen has several summer sessions every summer. Good luck!

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