Teaching expository essays

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The culprit could be human nature. Or the Prussian model of education. Who knows. But we can fix this problem if we spread a simple idea.

Diverse Expository Essay Topics for Any Occasion

An idea that, I think, is revolutionary in its own quiet way. It starts somewhere, and ends up somewhere else.

Synthetic thinking starts with small details, or an open-ended question. As thoughts continue to develop, the main idea is clarified or discovered at the end of the process.

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It then proceeds to break down the main idea into its components and deal with each separately. In other words, there are basically two directions you can go when you are developing your ideas. In other news, I just learned that creepy tinker was quoting obscure Victorian poet William Allingham. Who knew? Anyway, expository writing is usually presented most effectively in an analytic format — the main idea first, the support afterward.

Ever try to break down the writing process to make it more manageable for your students? Assign it as a series of discrete tasks? Good, good. This approach has its merits. Ever ask your students to write the thesis first? Not so good. Come on, raise your hand. The student has to do all the think-work to arrive at that thesis, but in the foggy realms of thought. They stare at a blank page in despair.

They ask for help; they get their tutor or their mom to ideate for them.


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Assign the student to freewrite , to woolgather on paper. To ratiocinate in question and answer form in a Google Doc. To write a summary of what they know, then write down what bothers them about it. Then ask them for a short-list of potential thesis statements.

List of Really Impressive Expository Essay Topics | Writers

A student doing their think-work on paper has a much better chance of arriving at a thesis on their own. See where this is going? Even though an expository essay is, as a final product, a top-down form, the method to get to that product is a bottom-up process. An expository first draft ought to be writer-oriented: work out what you know and how to explain it. Wander, get side-tracked, summarize, second-guess.

Write to think.

Expository Essay Example: Ways Students Can Spend Their Leisure Time

All the structural features we associate with expository writing. Not usually, in my experience. I tutored a student once who could spit out an expository essay on any prompt in forty minutes. Her trick was this: she had a kind of template-essay in her head, down to the opening hooks and quotes from The Great Gatsby she could fit to any topic. But ask her to write an essay without quoting The Great Gatsby , and she was stuck, stuck, stuck.

We think synthetically.

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Writing the activity is thinking, and therefore synthetic. While writing an expository essay at home, you have to include a list of references; however, in case it is written during a standardized test, the examples will be based solely on your personal experience.

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Even if you are free to choose the topic you like, be prepared to do some research on it. Simply making a claim argument is not enough. You also have to include extensive evidential support if you want your paper to be persuasive. In fact, students admit that most of the work on this type of academic writing is to be completed before the writing itself begins.

When writing your expository essay, follow these eight basic steps:

Therefore, think yourself lucky if your topic is from the area of your interest because this means that the preparations will not be a burden for you. On the other hand, if you have to explain something you are not familiar with and not interested in, you might become bored while doing the research.

The good thing is that once this work is done, the writing will be almost a piece of cake. In addition, learning something new is always rewarding. Sometimes students are prone to avoiding controversial issues or essay prompts they do not agree with. You should not shy away from such topics because they can help you build a strong argumentation. If you are not in full agreement with the subject you will be describing, you will be intuitively looking for reliable evidence and good support.