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.