Story Comparison Day #2: Expository Writing Tips

Essay writing has always gotten a bad rap…and rightfully so.  The topics have long tended to be stiff, un-engaging, and flat-out of tune with the millions of students who have to write in response to them.  While I like to create topics that are more interesting, all students need to learn how to find a way to connect with the topic in order to pop out an essay that is interesting to read, and representative of how well they can adapt and interpret the topic.

In today’s lesson, I showed the student how I approach the essay writing process so that it is a relatively easy and painless process.

Ms. Willipedia’s Expository Writing Tips:

  • šGet to know the writing prompt.
    • šDissect and analyze it to know what you’re being asked to do.
  • šOrganize your thoughts in advance.
    • šUse an outline or Thinking Map
    • šI strongly recommend an outline after using a Thinking Map
  • šRemember to make it interesting.
    • šInclude stories along with facts and examples to drive your ideas home (make them stronger).
    • The “Go Green” process works really well here.
  • šJust write.
    • šDon’t get obsessed with perfection.  Writing is a process.  This means that you make it better over time.

After presenting the students with their writing topic, we walked through the process of dissecting it in order to begin the brainstorming process.

Prompt: šRead “Thank You Ma’am” by Langston Hughes and “The Story-Teller” by Saki. In your review, compare how the authors reveal theme in each story. Detail what is similar and what is different about the way each accomplishes conveying his message.

šDissecting the Prompt:

  • What are the verbs?
    • šRead, compare, reveal, detail, accomplishes conveying
  • šWhat are the verbs modifying/telling us to do?
    • šRead what? “Thank You Ma’am” and “The Storyteller”
    • šCompare what? How the authors reveal theme in each story.
    • šDetail what? What is similar and different about the way each author conveys (shows/illustrates) his message.

We then worked together to create a Double Bubble Thinking Map focusing on the themes of the two stories.

The students then took this Double Bubble Thinking Map and created an outline for their essay rough drafts with the information from the Thinking Map.  Whatever was not completed in class for the outline was assigned for homework.



  • Finish essay outline from class.
  • Read for 30 minutes.
  • Continue work on Genius Hour Project (DUE FRIDAY DECEMBER 12th, 2014. NO late work will be accepted.)


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