Middle School Expository Writing Prompts

Middle School Expository Writing Prompts

Commonwealth of Virginia Copyright

2008 Virginia Department of Education Richmond, Virginia 23218-2120 http://www.doe.virginia.govAll rights reserved Reproduction of materials contained herein for instructional purposes in Virginia classrooms is permitted.Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr.Billy K.

Cannaday, Jr.

Chief Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr.Patricia I.

Wright Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Office of Middle and High School Instructional Services Dr.Felicia D.Dyke, Director Tracy Fair Robertson, English Coordinator Karen Koory, Middle School English Specialist Edited, designed, and produced by the CTE Resource Center Margaret L.Watson, Administrative Coordinator Bruce B.Stevens, Writer/Editor Richmond Medical Park Phone: 804-673-3778 2002 Bremo Road, Lower Level Fax: 804-673-3798 Richmond, Virginia 23226 Web site: http://CTEresource.orgThe CTE Resource Center is a Virginia Department of Education grant project administered by the Henrico County Public Schools.Notice to the Reader In accordance with the requirements of the Civil Rights Act and other federal and state laws and regulations, this document has been reviewed to ensure that it does not reflect stereotypes based on sex, age, race, or national origin.

The Virginia Department of Education does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in employment or provisions of service.Middle School Writing Modules in Support of Project Graduation Virginia Department of Education Skills Deciding and questions to gather brainstorming, freewriting,phic questions to elicit missing information and to the RAFTS strategy to unpack the graphic organizers and ive ideas into categories and and planning and prewriting strategies for prewriting strategies for expository writing, and then prewriting strategies for persuasive writing, effective fluency, using drop-in words in a organization, clarity, central composing skills, lesson composing skills, lesson composing skills, lesson di................45Revising wr......................48Adding specific , not specific sentences and embedding ideas by using sentence ideas into an effective complex sentences by using compound consistent point of subject-verb agreement with intervening phrases and pronoun-antecedent agreement, including indefinite adverbs to describe verbs, adjectives, and School Writing Modules in Support of Project Graduation Virginia Department of Education We wish to express our gratitude to the following individuals for their contributions to the Middle School Writing Modules in Support of Project Graduation:Carolyn Perry Loudoun County Public Schools Loudoun County Public Schools Rashida Johnson Alexandria City Public Schools Denise Fehrenbach Newport News City Public Schools Charlottesville City Public Schools Mary Ann Rogers Suffolk City Public Schools Dana Norman Bedford County Public Schools Rebecca Pierce Bedford County Public Schools Chesterfield County Public Schools Suzanne Crawford Bedford County Public Schools Jennifer Presson Suffolk City Public Schools Middle School Writing Modules in Support of Project Graduation Virginia Department of Education Prewriting Skill SOL 6.6 The student will write narratives, descriptions, and explanations.

7.8 The student will develop narrative, expository, and persuasive writing.

8.7 The student will write in a variety of forms, including narrative, expository, persuasive, and informational.Time Materials None 1.Remind students that they may respond to an SOL writing prompt in a descriptive, expository, narrative, or persuasive mode; the prompt is an invitation to write, and as long as a response is related to the prompt, it will be scored.2.Put a practice writing prompt on the board, such as “Write about what friendship means to you.” Model planning to respond to the prompt, leading students through a discussion of how to decide 3.Put student responses to the above prompt on the board in a table such as the following: Mode Form of response First sentenceDescriptive A description of your best friend, Maria, whom you have known since second grade When Maria came into Miss Smith’s room as the new girl, she looked petrified.I motioned to her to take the seat next to me, and she did with a smile.Maria has been a friend of mine ever since that moment.

An essay about the importance of having friends as you grow up The formula for success lists several necessary ingredients: intelligence, courage, honesty, hard work, and flexibility.

The word friendship is missing from this A story about two boat in the Chesapeake “Kerry, stay awake!” Ashley’s eyes fluttered open.She only wanted to sleep.Didn’t Kerry realize she was so tired? If she were a real friend, she would let her sleep for just a minute—maybe Persuasive A feature article in the school newspaper Ashton Miles is an athlete, and he is a boy who needs a end.Ashton is on the Special Olympics track team, which has a meet this Saturday in Roanoke.4.Assign students to cooperative learning groups, and ask groups to brainstorm ways to respond to this released SOL test prompt: “You have been asked to plan an after-school program for your school.Thinking about activities that students might enjoy, write about this after-school program.” 5.Allow groups to share their ideas and suggestions with the entire class.6.

Assign students to respond to the prompt in one of the ways suggested during the discussion, either during class or outside of class as a homework assignment.Teaching Adolescent Writers.Portland, Maine: Stenhouse, 2006.Note: Many lessons in this document cite this book as a resource showing how students can be taught to write effectively.In this book, Gallagher draws on his classroom experience as co-director of a regional writing project to offer teachers compelling reasons and practical ways to incorporate writing instruction into their classes.He shares a number of his classroom-tested strategies that enable teachers to understand the importance of teaching writing motivate young writers see the important role modeling plays in building young writers Middle School Writing Modules in Support of Project Graduation Virginia Department of Education understand how providing choice elevates adolescent writing and how to allow for choice within a rigorous curriculum help students recognize the importance of purpose and audience assess essays in ways that drive better writing performance.The chapters in Teaching Adolescent Writers are as follows: Chapter 1: Running with the Literacy Stampede Chapter 2: Overcoming “The Neglected ‘R’”: Establishing a Time and a Place to Write Chapter 3: Beyond the Grecian Urn: The Teacher as a Writing Model Chapter 4: Elevating Student Writing: Using Real-World Models Chapter 5: Beyond Fake Writing: The Power of Choice Chapter 6: The Importance of Purpose and Audience Chapter 7: Using Assessment to Drive Better Student Writing A Closing Thought: The Literacy Stampede Is upon Us Excerpts from Teaching Adolescent Writers can be read on the Web at School Writing Modules in Support of Project Graduation Virginia Department of Education Prewriting Skill Asking questions to gather information needed for writing SOL 6.6a Use a variety of planning strategies to generate and organize ideas.

7.8a Apply knowledge of prewriting strategies.

8.7a Use prewriting strategies to generate and organize ideas.Time Materials Computers with Internet access 3 x 5 cards 1.Ask students to name some state parks in Virginia, and list their responses on the board.Tell students that they will be writing an informational brochure about a Virginia state park of their choice and that they will formulate some questions about the information needed in such a brochure.2.Ask students to brainstorm with a partner to construct questions about the information that should be included in the brochure, such as the following: Where is the park located? Are picnics allowed in the park? Does it have an overnight camping area? Are fires for cooking allowed? What are the special features of the park? 3.When they are finished, ask each pair to share one question, and make a class list of questions on 4.When the class list is sufficiently complete, ask students to write each question from the list on a 3 x 5 card and then to group the cards by categories, such as water sports, camping, location, and hours of operation.


Have students go to the Virginia state parks Web site at and pick a park in their geographical region to research.Have them gather the information that will answer their questions and write the answers to the questions on the cards.6.Have students organize the information and draft the brochure by doing the lesson found on page 29: “Creating a brochure: informational writing.” Teaching Adolescent Writers
middle school expository writing prompts
.Portland, Maine: Stenhouse, 2006.RubiStar: Create Rubrics for your Project-Based Learning Middle School Writing Modules in Support of Project Graduation Virginia Department of Education Prewriting Skill Using brainstorming, freewriting, 5WH, and graphic organizers SOL 6.6a Use a variety of planning strategies to generate and organize ideas.

7.8a Apply knowledge of prewriting strategies.

8.7a Use prewriting strategies to generate and organize ideas.Time Materials Copies of a prewriting graphic organizer (teacher-selected) Copies of the attached “Prewriting Planning Sheet” 1.Ask students to brainstorme been surprised.Remind them that surprises can be both good and bad.

Give them sufficient time to create a list with a number of events.If students have difficulty brainstorming, model the process for them by starting your own list on the board.2.After each student has a list, tell students to select one of the events about which to “freewritei.e., write whatever comes to mind about the event without stopping even for one second from the time you say “go” until you say “stop.” They must not stop, erase, or correct; they should just write.Once they understand the process, say “go,” and keep students writing for at least 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the fluency of the group.3.

Have students select a second event from their brainstormed list.Tell them that they will now try the

method of prewriting.Have them write the questions Who?, What?, When?, Where?, Why?, down the side of the paper, and have them answer each question about the second selected event.4.Have students select a third event from their brainstormed list, and tell them to complete a teacher-selected graphic organizer capturing the main ideas of the event.They may use the attached “Prewriting Planning Sheet” as the basic frame or another of their choosing.

5.Tell students that they have now tried four different prewriting strategies: brainstorming, freewriting, 5WH, and graphic organizer.Ask the students which they liked best, but make it clear that they are all good methods.6.Have students select the event that they want to use as the subject of their paper.Have them use the prewriting they have already done as a starting point and complete the attached “Prewriting Planning Sheet.” If necessary, have them complete it for homework and come prepared to tell their story the next day.

7.For closure, have students complete an exit slip on which they explain the kind of prewriting that works the best for them and why.Middle School Writing Modules in Support of Project Graduation Virginia Department of Education Prewriting Planning Sheet 1.Think of a time you were very surprised, and write one sentence that summarizes the experience.An example might be, “When I was 10 years old, my parents threw a surprise birthday party for me, and they really managed to surprise me.”

2.List the events of that time in chronological order.

Event 1:

Event 2:

Event 3:

Event 4:

Event 5:

Event 6:

Event 7:

Event 8:

3.List the other people involved in the surprise.
4.Give the setting of the surprise.Be sure to include time, place, and duration.
5.Describe the day, using as many details as possible.

6.Describe the place, using as many details as possible.

7.Describe how you were feeling, what you were thinking, and what you said when you were

Middle School Writing Modules in Support of Project Graduation Virginia Department of Education Prewriting Skill Asking questions to elicit missing information and to clarify SOL 6.6a Use a variety of planning strategies to generate and organize ideas.

7.8a Apply knowledge of prewriting strategies.

8.7a Use prewriting strategies to generate and organize ideas.

Time Materials “Prewriting Planning Sheets” from the previous lesson This lesson will help students to write a sequential, fully developed personal narrative.

1.Ask the students to talk to a partner about the elements that are necessary for a story to be good.


Hold a class discussion about these elements.Elicit responses that a good story must include a clear sequence of events, good characters, and full elaboration with interesting details.

3.Seat the students in a circle, and review the topics on the Prewriting Planning Sheet, stressing that these elements are necessary in a good story.If students have not done the Prewriting Planning Sheet from the previous lesson, distribute blank copies of it for them to use.4.Model the process that the students will use, as follows: sit in the circle with the students, tell them a personal story about a time you were surprised, but make sure you leave out some of the important elements.

Tell students not to interrupt, but to look at the planning sheet and take notes on things they hear.

When you have finished telling your story, allow them to ask you questions about the missing information, about further details they want to know, and for clarification of things they do not understand.Then, tell your story again, adding the details they requested.5.

Still in the class circle, ask for a student volunteer to tell his/her story to the group without any interruption.

Then, allow everyone in the circle, including yourself, to question the storyteller to elicit further details, such as a complete setting.Questions should include an emphasis on clarification of sequence, cause and effect, setting, emotional reaction, and other such things.This is your opportunity to model good questioning.6.

Have the storyteller repeat his/her story, including the new information and an emphasis on correct sequence and elaboration.You may wish to make a recording of the storytelling, as some students 7.Form groups of three or four students, and have the groups repeat the process for each student.This is a great group activity if each group’s members are carefully selected.8.Have students write their personal narratives.

Middle School Writing Modules in Support of Project Graduation Virginia Department of Education Prewriting Skill Using graphic organizers and writing effective hooks SOL 6.6c Select vocabulary and information to enhance the central idea, tone, and voice.

7.8c Choose vocabulary and information that will create voice and tone.

8.7c Select specific vocabulary and information.

Time Materials Student writing portfolios (see lesson on page 131 for portfolio creation) Internet access to online graphic organizers Copies of a handout showing four to six types of prewriting graphic organizers (optional) 1.Distribute students’ writing portfolios, and instruct students to label their next blank sheet “Types of Prewriting Graphic Organizers.” Instruct pairs of students to brainstorm a list of the different kinds of graphic organizers they have used for the prewriting stage of the writing process and to write a brief description of each.2.After students have been given sufficient time, have the students share their favorite graphic organizers.Encourage the class to continue their note-taking during this “share time.” 3.Show students different types of graphic organizers, as found on Web sites such as can be done using a projector or by making and distributing a handout that shows four to six sample organizers on one page.Be sure to explain each type of organizer and how different types can be used for different types of writing.Encourage students to continue their note-taking as you explain these organizers.4.

Once all organizers have been explained, review the writing process.Remind students that the next step in the process is drafting and that it should not be difficult if the prewriting process has be done thoroughly.Encourage students to brainstorm the difficulties with drafting that they have encountered in the past and the solutions they have found.5.

Hook sentences or attention getters are an important writing element that is often forgotten.

Have students title the next blank sheet in their writing portfolio “Writing Effective Hooks.” Begin by having students create a class definition of hook as applied to sentences.Be sure they understand that a hook does not state the central idea of the writing, but rather captures the attention of the reader.This is an excellent fact to have students include in their “Writing Tips” chart in their portfolio.6.Hold a brief class discussion about the types of hooks students have used in their writing.

During the discussion, challenge students to classify the types of hooks.While emphasizing that creating a hook does not have to be difficult, present students with notes for inclusion in their portfolios about creating hooks.The Web site http://www.frostburg.edu/clife.
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