Lesson Plan: Teaching Students how to Write Expository Paragraphs on a Particular Topic This lesson plan provides a number of important lesson components to be followed in order to effectively teach students to write simple expository paragraphs: 1. Gaining attention 2. Informing learners of the objective 3. Stimulating recall of prerequisite learning 4. Presenting stimulus material 5. Eliciting desired behavior 6. Providing feedback 7. Assessing behavior The next paragraph illustrates the concrete strategies on writing expository paragraphs, which are integrated in this lesson plan: - outlining - paragraph development - preparing thesis and supporting statements - organization of ideas Exposition, like narration, has a definite form or structure that authors use purposefully to convey a message. Readers expect text structures that bring cohesiveness to content and help them to remember what they are reading. There are several ways to develop expository prose. Methods of development include definition, description, process (collection, time order, or listing), classification, comparison, analysis, and persuasion. Each method of development carries its own unique rhetorical devices that an author uses to construct meaning and a reader uses to comprehend. Text-driven models of writing instruction typically define a specific form, such as the descriptive paragraph, provide an illustrative example, and then assign student writing. However, sixth-grade students can still benefit from lessons that begin with very concrete activities that illustrate the abstract concepts of form and content. McGee and Richgels (1985) recommend using a hands-on, ‘tower-building’ activity to demonstrate that expository paragraphs may be structured similarly but the content can differ significantly. An adapted version of the tower-building procedures follows. 1. Gaining attention In order to gain students’ attention, the teacher may use strategies that remind six-graders of their childhood (simple strategies that were used in the past) and thus make them more comfortable comprehending the new material.
1. Materials needed: Collect a variety of containers of all shapes and sizes, such as milk cartons, plastic juice bottles, shoe boxes, paper towel rolls, and margarine tubs. Commercial toys such as wooden blocks or plastic blocks, Legos, Construx, Tinker Toys, or any plastic pull-apart toy are also excellent materials to use. 2. Build a demonstration tower that has different levels made from different materials. 3. Tell the students to build their own tower, structured identically to yours but with different materials. 4. Compare the towers. Ask the students to infer what you have just demonstrated. Try to get them to draw the conclusion that two towers can have exactly the same structure but be built with completely different materials. 5. To continue developing the concept, discuss structures familiar to the students that are identical except for the materials: water towers, apartment buildings, houses, or even toys that come in plastic or metal versions. 6. Finally, have the students draw pictures of things familiar to them that have the same structure but are constructed of different materials. The pictures can then be used as the basis for descriptive or comparison paragraphs. 2. Informing learners of the objective After the hands-on activities, introduce the lesson on exposition, drawing attention to the analogy between building towers and writing expository paragraphs. The form of the tower is to the structure of a paragraph as the materials of the tower are to the content or ideas in a paragraph. Research-based strategies for teaching expository text structures begin at the paragraph level. Focusing on the single paragraph simplifies the task of explaining expository structures that might otherwise seem abstract and difficult. By learning about expository text structures through paragraph reading, analysis, and writing, multi-paragraph texts in the literature and the content areas will be easier to comprehend. 3. Stimulating recall of prerequisite learning An important instructional goal is to move to multi-paragraph assignments as soon as possible, since students must deal with reading whole chapters in the content areas and with writing papers longer than a paragraph.
Students soon learn that writing expository paragraphs and multi-paragraph papers helps them to become better readers and writers of both nonfiction and fiction. Drawing on the concrete strategies aimed at helping students write expository paragraphs, we state that by organizing students in small groups, a teacher can explain the basics of the Paragraph Development. Then each group is to compose and present the piece of writing in order to demonstrate its ability. This strategy should follow the tower-building exercise, so that the students can perform it while working on other strategies. Such approach enables students to practice and improve their skills. 4. Presenting stimulus material - In order to explain the strategy of Preparing Thesis and Supporting Statements to students it is necessary to understand that the best results can be achieved when students are actually involved in the learning process. To achieve this goal, it is worthwhile to organize small groups of students. Part of the groups will be required to develop a small piece of writing where each of the students will write at least one thesis. Then, the groups that developed thesis statements provide the rest of the class with their theses. The other groups are supposed to develop supporting statements for each of the theses. Then the groups exchange their materials and those who developed supporting statements start to develop theses. As the result all groups will have an opportunity to practice two exercises: how to make a thesis statement and how to support that thesis with an argument. The students would work with theses created by the other group and not by themselves, so they’ll have to put in more efforts and use creative thinking. 5. Eliciting desired behavior During the above exercises the attention of the students will be kept because they are working in small groups and every single student is engaged in the process of either writing a thesis or a supporting argument.
Work in the small groups would also help students to revise necessary material by shearing them with each other and achieving the goal of efficient collective work. What is more to elicit the desired behavior, the form of game can be used. The competition can be held among the groups and the winner-group can be rewarded with a high grade or a prize. As the result, each of the students would have stimulus to contribute to the success of the entire group. Outlining the ideas is another writing technique that can be taught in the similar fashion and that can help students provide feedback on the matters taught earlier. The groups can use the pieces of writing they’ve already created to practice previous strategy. Each of the groups gets the paragraphs written by other two groups. The goal of that group is to outline the ideas stated in these paragraphs and present them in new piece of writing. This exercise can also be made in the competitive manner that requires creative thinking. Since the groups have limited amount of time for their work and present the results in orderly manner, high level of concentration will be necessary. The competitive ground shall provide necessary stimulus for students as well as an opportunity to present the results of their work in front of the entire class. 6. Providing feedback Feedback is one of the most important components in all exercises. The students are encouraged to communicate the easiest and the most difficult parts of the exercise to the teacher. They are also encouraged to evaluate the entire exercise as well. By using such means the teacher will have an opportunity to estimate usefulness of the exercise and improve it or replace with another. 7. Assessing behavior Organization of ideas should be the last strategy for the lesson. Students can use works developed during the day to perform this exercise. Papers of the students that didn’t interact with each other earlier in the day can provide the perfect material for this exercise. The task of each group is to conclude on ideas of the pieces of writing they received and then consult with the authors whether or not they understood their ideas correctly.
The pedagogical structure should consist of: • The brief introduction that explains the importance of such strategies for suture performance in school and work. • Actual strategies that should be taught in the order mentioned above. • Closing part should contain feedback that would allow students to express their opinions and ask questions. This pedagogical structure was chosen because it most closely matches the proposed plan of teaching students to write expository paragraphs. We described the pedagogical structure of teaching six-graders to write expository paragraphs. This pedagogical structure should consider two concluding issues: What are the pedagogical gains that make the described use of this lesson plan appear advisable if not absolutely essential? And how is the prescribed use of this lesson plan to be evaluated from the perspective of cultural history? If we look at the above lesson plan, we are able to detect the following positive effect: Improvements in Psychological Conditions of Teaching. Two factors that have never played any role in traditional pedagogy, time savings and comfort, are important for modern students, as they suffer from a chronic lack of time and have difficulty attending the many extracurricular academic and sports events. With the proposed learning plan, the sequence of learning and teaching acts is rapid and the return times for corrections are short. As far as comfort is concerned, this appears at first glance to be an external characteristic. However, its special importance becomes clear on a second glance. The rapid access to desired information, instruction, and course syllabuses of various origins, as well as the much easier access to joint discussions and collaborative activities, goes beyond the “user-friendliness” of modern teaching.