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EXPOSITORY WRITING. WORKSHOP. What is an Expository Essay?. The expository essay is a genre of essay that requires the student to investigate an idea, evaluate evidence, expand on the idea, and set forth an argument concerning that idea in a clear and concise manner.

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Slide 2

What is an Expository Essay?

  • The expository essay is a genre of essay that requires the student to investigate an idea, evaluate evidence, expand on the idea, and set forth an argument concerning that idea in a clear and concise manner.

  • This can be accomplished using many structures: comparison and contrast, definition, example (exemplification), cause and effect, etc.

  • Please note: This genre is commonly assigned as a tool for classroom evaluation and is often found in various exam formats.

Slide 3

What is an Expository Essay?

  • The structure of the expository essay always contains the following:

  • An engaging introduction

  • A clear, concise, and defined thesis statement that occurs in the first paragraph of the essay

  • Clear and logical transitions between the introduction, body, and conclusion

  • Body paragraphs that include evidential support

  • Evidential support (whether factual, logical, statistical, or anecdotal)

  • A bit of creativity!

  • A conclusion that does not simply restate the thesis, but readdresses it in light of the evidence provided

Slide 4

Today’s focus:

The Introduction!

Slide 5

Writing an Effective Introduction

  • Overview: We will explore the value/purpose of an effective introduction, examine techniques for creating an attention-getting device or hook, and discover an introductory technique for ten topics and assign each student to write an introduction.

  • Goal: To have students write an introduction that hooks the reader’s attention, uses an expository device, and sets the tone for an essay.

  • TEKS: 13C revise drafts to clarify meaning and achieve specific rhetorical purposes

  • 15A effective introductory and concluding paragraphs and a variety of sentence structures

Slide 6

What is the value of an introduction?

Slide 7

Purpose of an Introduction:

  • To get the reader's ATTENTION.

  • 2. To move the reader into your SUBJECT MATTER and set theTONE.

  • 3. To shift from a GENERAL idea to the SPECIFIC thesis of your essay.

  • 4. To state your THESIS before moving to the body of the essay.

Slide 8

Devices for creating a great introduction:

  • Understand the prompt.

  • The number one thing you must do to write a great introduction is to make sure you are directly addressing the prompt; make sure you know the direction you are taking the essay.

    • What does the prompt mean?

    • What does it want you to address specifically?

  • Student examples about ways to use this device:

  • Slide 9

    Devices for creating a great introduction:

    • Use an analogy or metaphor.

    • Analogies or metaphors require creativity. Think of one that fits the prompt. In fact, if the metaphor is clever, it can be extended throughout the entire essay.

      • To what could you compare the topic?

      • What situations or ideas are similar or parallel to the topic or idea presented?

        Student examples about ways to use this device:

    Slide 10

    Devices for creating a great introduction:

    • Tell a brief ANECDOTE or historical event.

    • You can create an engaging introduction by telling a brief story.

      • How do the ideas in your prompt relate to history?

      • Have the idea(s) in your prompt ever been historically significant?

        Student examples about ways to use this device:

    Slide 11

    Devices for creating a great introduction:

    • 4. Use a QUOTE that was not used in the prompt.

    • It is useful to memorize short quotes that you love.

    • “With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” Eleanor Roosevelt

    • “If you dream it, you can do it.” Walt Disney

    • “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin

    • Student examples about ways to use this device:

    Slide 12

    Devices for creating a great introduction:

    • 5. Mention a topic in theNEWS.

    • Try to use a news story that isn't front page news and clearly fits the topic.

    Slide 13

    Devices for creating a great introduction:

    • 6. Use a cliché in an INVENTIVE way.

    • One way to use a cliché creatively is to change it to fit the topic.

    • A cliché or clicheis an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has been overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful or novel. 

    • Student examples about ways to use this device:

    Slide 14

    Read aloud the sample introduction

    • What device was used?

    • How effective is the introduction?

    • Is the thesis statement clear?

    • How would you rate this introduction?

    • Can you use this as an example to write your own?

    Slide 15

    Group practice

    • Complete the back side of your handout titled Topics for Introduction.

    • With a partner, develop techniques/devices that can be used for an introduction for each topic.

    • Be prepared to present your answers and explain in detail what technique or device is used and how it should be developed.

    Slide 16

    Independent practice

    • Your turn!

    • Select ONE topic from the ten on the worksheet,

    • use the device suggested by your team,

    • and write an introduction for an expository essay.

    Slide 17

    Today’s focus:

    Using Patterns to Organize the Body of an essay

    Slide 18

    Expository Essay--Body

    • Goal of Lesson: To provide organizational tools so that students can effectively communicate their ideas.

    • TEKS Addressed:

    • (23) Research/Organizing and Presenting Ideas. Students organize and present their ideas and

    • information according to the purpose of the research and their audience. Students are expected

    • to synthesize the research into a written or an oral presentation that:

    • (A) marshals evidence in support of a clear thesis statement and related claims;

    • (B) provides an analysis for the audience that reflects a logical progression of ideas and a clearly

    • stated point of view; (ELAR 1-4)

    Slide 19

    Now what?

    A great introduction is a fantastic way to start, but it can’t be everything.

    Where do I go from here?

    • Overview of Lesson:

    • The teacher will explain the types of organizational patterns, provide students with topics, have students create outlines using the various patterns and finally, have students write an essay using one type of organizational pattern.

    Slide 20


    • Climactic or Reverse Climactic order - arranged from least important to most important ideas or arranged from most important to least important ideas.Topic – What are the qualities of a good leader?


    Least important

    More important

    Most important



    Most important

    Less important

    Least important


    Reverse Climactic

    Climactic Order

    Slide 21


    • Psychological order - organization grows from our learning that readers or listeners

    • usually give most attention to what comes at the beginning and the end, and least

    • attention to what is in the middle.


    Most important

    Least important

    Most important


    TOPIC– Why are many teachers strict?

    Slide 22


    • General-to-specific order or Specific to general – starts with general concepts and moves to specific ideas or examples or starts with specific ideas or concepts and moves to general conclusions, etc.

    General Concepts

    Specific Ideas

    Specific Ideas

    General Concepts

    Topic– What is the impact of music on your life?

    Slide 23


    • Most-familiar-to-least-familiar – gradually introduces new and unfamiliar material.

    Topic– What are the effects of long term smoking?

    Slide 24


    • Simplest-to-Most-Complex – moves reader from easy to difficult ideas.

    Topic – What impact do school uniforms have on the campus climate?

    Slide 25


    • Topical Order - a catchall pattern that refers to organization that emerges from the topic itself.

    Topic– What are productive ways to spend leisure time?

    Slide 26


    • Compare and Contrast pattern - arranges information according to how two or more things are similar or different from one another (or both).

    • Topic by Topic

    • Intro.

    • Apples

    • A. Point I

      • B. Point 2

    • Pears

    • A. Point I

    • B. Point 2

    • Conclusion

    Point by Point

    I. Intro.

    II. Point I

    A. Apples

    B. Pears

    III. Point 2

    A. Apples

    B. Pears

    IV. Concl.

    Topic– Which is better: living in an apartment or house?

    Slide 27


    • Advantages-Disadvantages pattern - organizes information about a topic by dividing it up into its "good" and "bad" parts or pros and cons.

    Topic– What are the consequences of having a job in high school?

    Slide 28


    • Cause-Effect pattern - shows the different causes and effects of various conditions.

    Topic– Should cities have curfews for teens?

    Slide 29


    • Problem-Solution pattern - divides information into two main sections, one that

    • describes a problem and one that describes a solution.

    Topic– What should schools do to prevent students from dropping out?

    Slide 30

    Try it! With a partner, Create an outline for one of the following topics using the pattern listed beside it.

    • 6. topical order – What are productive ways to spend leisure time?

    • 7. compare and contrast pattern – Which is better: living in an apartment or house?

    • 8. advantages-disadvantages pattern – What are the consequences of having a job in high school?

    • 9. cause-effect pattern – Should cities have curfews for teens?

    • 10. problem-solution pattern – What should schools do to prevent students from dropping out?

    • 1. climactic or reverse climactic order – What are the qualities of a good leader?

    • 2. psychological order – Why are many teachers strict?

    • 3. general-to-specific or specific-to general order – What is the impact of music on your life?

    • 4. most-familiar-to-least-familiar – What are the effects of long term smoking?

    • 5. simplest-to-most-complex – What impact do school uniforms have on the campus climate?

    Slide 31

    Possible Topics for an Essay

    • Select one of the following topics and write an outline, using one of the patterns of organization which we have studied in class for the body of the essay.

    • Choice I: “Peace is an accident; war is natural. Old men start it, young men fight it, everybody in the middle dies, and nobody tells the truth.” Sylvester Stallone, Rambo

    • Choice II: “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse.” –John Stuart Mill

    • Choice III: “In the school of the Spirit man learns wisdom through humility, knowledge by forgetting, how to speak by silence, how to live by dying.” --Johannes Tauler

    • Choice IV: “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” --Abraham Lincoln

    Slide 32

    Using transitional expressions

    In the expository essay

    Slide 33

    Using Transitional expressions

    • Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and he or she switched topics without warning?

    • Did you ever have someone start talking to you about something, but you didn’t really know what topic they were talking about?

    • Pretty confusing, right? We want to avoid this type of confusion in our writing and create a seamless, polished, professional piece.

    • Goal of lesson: To have students use transitional expressions to form a bridge from one idea from another and to show relationships between sentences and paragraphs.

    Slide 34

    Traditional Paragraph

    • Topic Sentence (main idea)

      A. Supporting detail

    • B. Supporting detail

    • C. Supporting detail

    • D. Transition or conclusion

    Slide 35

    Using transitions more effectively

    • 4. Compare and contrast the two essays, emphasizing the value of transitional words

    • 5. Discuss transitions


    • Write a paragraph using four transitional words from the chart and underline them in the paragraph.


    • 1. Read and review


    • 2. Read


    • Analyze transitions

    • 3. Read


    Slide 36

    Supporting your ideas

    In an expository essay

    Slide 37

    Need information to put in your expository essay outline?

    • L—literary examples

    • C—current examples

    • H—historical examples

    • O—observations

    • P—personal experiences

    • S—statistics

    Slide 38

    Practice finding supporting ideas

    • On your paper, write this prompt:

    • Does America exert power and influence on the culture of the rest of the world?

    • List/brainstorm as many arguments for and against as you can.

    • Be prepared to share at least two of your ideas.

    L—literary examples

    C—current examples

    H—historical examples


    P—personal experiences


    Slide 39

    Your Turn!

    • Use the worksheet to brainstorm ideas.

    • This paper will be for a grade.

    Slide 40

    The conclusion

    Slide 41

    You’re almost there!

    • You’ve written an amazing piece—now what?

    • How do you create a finish that is memorable and worthy of your great work?

    Slide 42

    Strategies for Writing an Effective Conclusion

    • Today’s Goal: Students will use techniques and strategies to create effective conclusions.

    • Conclusions are often the most difficult part of an essay to write, and many writers feel that they have nothing left to say after having written the paper.

    • A writer needs to keep in mind that the conclusion is often what a reader remembers best.

    • Your conclusion should be the best part of your paper.

    Slide 43

    A conclusion should:

    • stress the importance of the thesis statement,

    • give the essay a sense of completeness, and

    • leave a final impression on the reader.

    Slide 44


    • Answer the question "So What?"

    • Show your readers why this paper was important. Show them that your paper was meaningful and useful.

    Slide 45


    • Synthesize, don't summarize

    • Don't simply repeat things that were in your paper. They have read it.

    • Show them how the points you made and the support and examples you used were not random, but fit together.

    Slide 46


    • Redirect your readers

    • Give your reader something to think about, perhaps a way to use your paper in the "real" world. If your introduction went from general to specific, make your conclusion go from specific to general. Think globally.

    Slide 47


    • Create a new meaning

    • You don't have to give new information to create a new meaning.

    • By demonstrating how your ideas work together, you can create a new picture.

    • Often the sum of the paper is worth more than its parts.

    Slide 48


    • The last thing you might add to your conclusion is a quotation from the text that brings your paper to a graceful close.

    • The quotation should be striking, symbolic--a quotation that is especially graceful or figurative.

    Slide 49


    • Echoing the introduction: Echoing your introduction can be a good strategy if it is meant to bring the reader full-circle.

    • If you begin by describing a scenario, you can end with the same scenario as proof that your essay was helpful in creating a new understanding.

    Slide 50

    Echoing the Introduction example

    • Introduction

    • From the parking lot, I could see the towers of the castle of the Magic Kingdom standing stately against the blue sky. To the right, the tall peak of The Matterhorn rose even higher. From the left, I could hear the jungle sounds of Adventureland. As I entered the gate, Main Street stretched before me with its quaint shops evoking an old-fashioned small town so charming it could never have existed. I was entranced. Disneyland may have been built for children, but it brings out the child in adults.

    • Conclusion

    • I thought I would spend a few hours at Disneyland, but here I was at 1:00 A.M., closing time, leaving the front gates with the now dark towers of the Magic Kingdom behind me. I could see tired children, toddling along and struggling to keep their eyes open as best they could. Others slept in their parents' arms as we waited for the parking lot tram that would take us to our cars. My forty-year-old feet ached, and I felt a bit sad to think that in a couple of days I would be leaving California, my vacation over, to go back to my desk. But then I smiled to think that for at least a day I felt ten years old again.

    Slide 51


    • Challenging the reader: By issuing a challenge to your readers, you are helping them to redirect the information in the paper, and they may apply it to their own lives.

    • Example

    • Though serving on a jury is not only a civic responsibility but also an interesting experience, many people still view jury duty as a chore that interrupts their jobs and the routine of their daily lives. However, juries are part of America's attempt to be a free and just society. Thus, jury duty challenges us to be interested and responsible citizens.

    Slide 52


    • Looking to the future: Looking to the future can emphasize the importance of your paper or redirect the readers' thought process. It may help them apply the new information to their lives or see things more globally.

    • Example

    • Without well-qualified teachers, schools are little more than buildings and equipment. If higher-paying careers continue to attract the best and the brightest students, there will not only be a shortage of teachers, but the teachers available may not have the best qualifications. Our youth will suffer. And when youth suffers, the future suffers.

    Slide 53


    • Posing questions: Posing questions, either to your readers or in general, may help your readers gain a new perspective on the topic, which they may not have held before reading your conclusion. It may also bring your main ideas together to create a new meaning.

    • Example

    • Campaign advertisements should help us understand the candidate's qualifications and positions on the issues. Instead, most tell us what a boob or knave the opposing candidate is, or they present general images of the candidate as a family person or God-fearing American. Do such advertisements contribute to creating an informed electorate or a people who choose political leaders the same way they choose soft drinks and soap?

    Slide 54

    Writing for the staar test

    The Expository essay

    Slide 55


    Score Point 1—VERY LIMITED

    Score Point 2—BASIC

    Score Point 3—SATISFACTORY

    Score Point 4—ACCOMPLISHED

    2 is not passing!

    Slide 56

    Expository prompts

    • Expository=Clear Explanation

    • The expository task requires students to clearly explain what they think about something

    • The persuasive task requires students to take a position and present a consistent, sustained argument that supports it

      • Expository—the student is NOT TRYING to convince the reader to think a certain way or to accept a single viewpoint as valid

    • Students may use 1st or 3rd person (though better to stay away from “one”); remember that prompts are written to elicit an explanatory or persuasive response that reflects students’ own thinking about their lives and the world

    Slide 57

    Sample responses

    • Sample essays

    Slide 58

    In a Nutshell—Lower Score Range

    • Typical problems we’ve seen in papers

    • falling in the lower score range (1s and 2s)

    • Wrong organizational structure/form for purpose

    • Weak, evolving, or nonexistent thesis

    • Wasted space: repetition, wordiness, extraneous details or examples, looping/meandering, meaningless introductions and conclusions

    • Inclusion of too many different ideas for 1 page

    • General/vague/imprecise use of language or inappropriate tone for purpose

    • Essay poorly crafted

    • Weak conventions

    Slide 59

    In a Nutshell—Higher Score Range

    • Typical strengths we’ve seen in papers

    • falling in the higher score range (3s and 4s)

    • Strong match between structure/form and purpose

    • Explicit thesis and sustained focus

    • “Narrow and deep” development—no wasted words or space. Think quality over quantity!

    • Introduction and conclusion short but effective

    • Specific use of language and appropriate tone for purpose

    • Essay well crafted

    • Strong conventions

    Slide 60


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