Write About It Wednesday: Expository Writing

Halle and I are thrilled to be back at it today with our fourth Write About It Wednesday!

Today our topic is: Launching Expository Writing!

This is always a unit that can feel somewhat overwhelming because you have to teach students how to write, stay on topic, and teach them the purpose and features of informational text!  That's a lot to do!

Last year, a dear teacher friend of mine introduced our team to Lucy Calkins' "All About Books".  She had this gem of a book, and with just one look at the unit, we were absolutely thrilled to use this as our launching point for expository writing.  Bonus points that the kids simultaneously learn about informational text features! It was truly a win-win.

Students basically get to pick any topic that they know 'all about'.  Their job is to create their own non-fiction book on the topic of their choosing. Students love showing all they know!

During mini-lessons, the teacher talks about organizing details and grouping ideas together to form a 'chapter'.  Students learn how to stay on topic and organize the information and it works so well because they already know the information in their mind! They're not trying to learn content while learning writing craft.

Students create a table of contents, listing the "chapters" in their book.

Then students begin to write the actual content!

What works so well here is that the purpose of this is to allow students to really experience informational text at the author level.  As the children work, the teacher can conference and informally assess what specific lessons will be needed for the unit. (Like, "Are they able to stay on topic? How is the voice? Are they adding various types of details?")

Remember, this isn't a full-blown process piece of writing. The teacher doesn't do a ton of editing or give a ton of feedback.  It's all about letting the kids just experience the genre.

Finally, our students make a glossary for their bold-face words. I LOVE reading their definition of the words they use in their chapters.

If you want more information on Lucy Calkins and her All About Books, this is a great site that gives a bit more information. :) 

Now don't forget to head over to Across the Hall to see what Halle has in store! No doubt it is fabulous!!

And as always, we'd love for YOU to link up too! Just remember:

*be a follower of both of our blogs.
*use the provided button {just save the image above and link it back here, or provide a link in the picture caption}.
*link to a post related to today’s topic.
*make sure you link to the specific post and not just your blog.

What expository writing topics do you do with your class?


  1. Love the idea of a glossary! Might have to add that to mine!

    Loved this post and all your great ideas and knowledge on the writing process! Nearly made my headache go away!

    Across the Hall in 2nd Grade

  2. I like the idea of a glossary too! Picking their own topic makes it so much more rewarding for them.

    Everyone deServes to Learn

  3. We teach using Lucy at my school for all types of writing. I LOVE all of her many organizers and her books are super quick reads. Lucy makes teaching writing almost bearable. :)

    Second Grade Math Maniac

  4. I was happy to read this post... this is such a hard skill for our young writers. I am you newest follower and I hope to get linked up soon (hope I'm not too late to the party!) Take care,

    Kickin' It With Class

  5. English Language Arts is my hardest skill as a teacher, so to read about a fun and exciting way to feature expository writing is great! As others have said, this is a hard skill for young writers, especially when trying to keep them on track and on topic rather than moving from one topic to the other. Thanks for writing about it and sharing some simple, yet incredibly effective, ideas!

    Miss V's Busy Bees


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