Expository Writing

Here in Texas, fourth grade has a big push in writing since it is the first grade level for it to be tested. We have been working on it all year, but really started hammering out expository recently. 

Personally, I think that expository writing is a wee bit easier because it is all based on facts and reasons. Instead of having to come up with creative details, students write what they know. In our classroom, we use the Thinking Maps writing process for prewriting. The following process is entirely based off of a training that I received using Thinking Maps.

We began by looking at our prompt: What career would you like to have and why? Together we read the prompt and talk about the important words and what they are asking.

To brainstorm ideas, we use a circle map. I wrote my career, occupational therapist, in the center circle and then brainstormed reasons why in the outside circle. I ask students to brainstorm 8-10 reasons they would like to have that career. After you have brainstormed your ideas, you choose the three that you are going to write about. I have had a lot of discussions with students about how sometimes the three ideas you write about aren't necessarily their favorite, but instead the three you have the most to say about. 

Then, using the three selected reasons you create a flow map and list three facts about each reason below. I like to use a different color for each reason so that it shows what will soon be the different paragraphs. 

After that we add our introduction, conclusion, and transition words to the beginning of each paragraph. At this time, we "whisper read" the piece to ourselves. This helps to make sure that we aren't missing anything or have an example that is unnecessary. 

Finally, we begin drafting. All of this is completed with me modeling on our messy board and then students completing their own prewriting one step at a time. 

This is a student sample of their brainstorming for the career of a crime scene investigator. 

This is the same student's prewriting plan.  

We are now ready to draft our papers! I can't wait to read all about my students' plans for their future careers. There are ALWAYS a couple of really interesting ones.  


  1. Hi! I'm really happy to have found your blog through a mutual friend. I LOVE how you used the circle map to plan the writing pieces...thanks for sharing this process!!

  2. I also teach 4th grade in Texas. I am always happy to find another writing teacher to get ideas, and I hear you are an awesome one.

  3. I love the idea of the circle map for building ideas! I am a new follower!

    Krazy Town

  4. I love how you showed the process of how you teach students to think through the prewriting process!

    Thinking Out Loud

  5. It's interesting that you say your students have trouble with creative writing. My students LOVE creative writing, so I really appreciate this idea to teach them expository writing. Keep up the great work!

  6. With the push in CC it is so great to see how other teachers are teaching the different writing pieces...excited to see more writing "how to's" from you in the future! Thank you for your help!

    :) Carmen

  7. I am like you, I think expository is easy. I think that is because I am logical. I teach in Texas as well and have bought some of your products. Not long til the test, so GOOD LUCK.

  8. We've been doing "practice" for state testing for a couple weeks and this week is all about writing! So glad I found this, can't wait to use it with my students. They really struggle with getting those ideas into a plan. We've made a web and circle map but that 2nd step is what I've been missing!!
    I'm a new follower! Can't wait to read more of your ideas :)
    The Resource(ful) Room

  9. Wow ladies! I came home to so much love on this post and it just makes me smile ear to ear after a long day! Thank you for all of your comments, I truly appreciate them! Really though, I owe it all to Thinking Maps. They, and the training that I have received in them, really changed the way that I think about writing.

  10. Plenty of great ideas. So glad the Science Penguin sent me your way!

  11. How FUN will it be to read your students' writing! I'll bet their parents would get a kick out of it, too. It would be fun to bind them into a little class book and send them home to share with the families. It would become a keepsake, for sure.

    Runde's Room

  12. I like how you did a linear (flow map) brainstorming approach! So many of my kids think in that way. It will lead to clear paragraphing. Never thought of it that way!Love the whisper read!
    Fabulous Fifth Grade Fun
    PS...just bought Cival War packet this morning.
    Looking forward to using it!

  13. Thanks so much for the great ideas! You are my newest blog to follow!!!

  14. I'm glad to hear that I am not the only one that teaches a pre writing plan. We add a brief introduction and conclusion when we are done.

  15. Do you have any student examples you could share?


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