Expository Writing

"The expository essay is a genre of essay that requires the student to investigate an idea, evaluate evidence, expound on the idea, and set forth an argument concerning that idea in a clear and concise manner. This can be accomplished through comparison and contrast, definition, example, the analysis of cause and effect, etc."

                                                                                                     - Online Writing Laboratory,

                                                                                                         Purdue University

 

Before we begin, here are some "never do's":

Do not use first person;

Do not refer to the reader;

Do not refer to the paper itself.

Avoid writing things like this: In my paper, I'm going to give you three reasons why...; There is a lot of evidence to support my claim; The evidence above...; My reasons prove...

Outline

Make sure you have at least four paragraphs: Here's a nice graphic.

 

I. Introduction (HoTT)

     A. Hook (lead, connect)

     B. Transition (bridge, summary)

     C. Thesis (claim)

            SOaR: Subject, Opinion, Reason

II. Body Paragraph One (TEEC)

     A. Topic Sentence (Reason #1)

     B. Example (HELPS)

     C. Explanation / Elaboration

     D. Concluding Sentence

III. Body Paragraph Two (TEEC)

     A. Topic Sentence (Reason #2)

     B. Example (HELPS)

     C. Explanation / Elaboration

     D. Concluding Sentence

IV. Conclusion (XYZ)

     A. Explain/ restate the thesis

     B. Why should audience care?

     C. Zing audience with concluding

         thought

hourglass writing outline image.png
 

PreWriting

ThinkCERCA gives prompts to help with the introduction:

A good "Connect" response provides a broad introduction to the idea of your essay; the "summary" step works to transition from your hook to your claim; the claim, of course, is your response to the prompt.

 

Introduction

The introduction has three parts:

(1) The lead is a broad introduction

that starts the reader thinking about the topic;

(2) The transition connects the lead to the thesis

by introducing the text;

(3) The thesis contains the subject of the essay,

the opinion that is being discussed,

and supporting reasons.

I. Introduction (HoTT)

     A. Hook (lead, connect)

     B. Transition (bridge, summary)

     C. Thesis (claim)

            SOaR: Subject, Opinion, Reason

The origins of many traditions followed today are often

not known or practiced anymore. Some people celebrate 

Christmas without any regard to Jesus, and most girls celebrating their Quincenera have no intention of getting married right away. Shirley Jackson's short story "The Lottery," tells about a small village that follows a disturbing tradition every June. However, the behavior of the characters reinforces the theme that traditions are often followed long after it's forgotten why they were established because they've forgotten many parts of the lottery and seem much less enthusiastic than they should.

WRITE an essay explaining whether it is better to work by yourself or with a group.

Your introduction could look like this:

          A famous businessman once said that players win games and teams win championships. He was right. Though an individual can often accomplish good things by himself, a group of people working together can often do bigger and better things.  Working in a group is better than working alone because the job will get done more quickly and a group of people can come up with better ideas than just one person can.

 

II. (and III.) - The Body Paragraphs

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HELPS is an acronym that helps you come up with examples for your expository essay.

History

Experiences

Literature

Pop culture

Science and Sports

A good essay displays more than just your ability to write well, it's a chance to show how well you connect ideas to the world around you. That's why we suggest that you avoid using personal examples. Instead, connect the prompt to historic events; books, stories, or poems; movies, songs, or current events; scientific achievements; or sports.

This can be challenging. Some prompts make it easier than others. 

Your body paragraphs are very similar to a short answer response: TEEC

The topic sentence is one of the reasons from your thesis, the evidence and explanations are from HELPS (see below), and the concluding sentence closes out the paragraph.

     A task can often be completed more quickly when individuals work together as a group. In the novel "When We Were Lost," a group of high school students survive a plane crash in the jungle, but don't know where they are. Working together, they are able to survive the wilderness and its snakes, jaguars, and drug dealers. They learned that only by working together could they survive.

     A group can also come up with more ideas through brainstorming than an individual can. In 1970, the crew of Apollo 13 found themselves in a great deal of trouble when one of their oxygen tanks failed. Luckily, through the combined efforts of the astronauts in the capsule and a crew of scientists and engineers (including Mr. Skipper's father) in Houston, they were able to come up with a solution to fix the tank using the materials that were onboard the spaceship. Without that teamwork, the astronauts would have run out of oxygen before they could have returned to earth.

 

IV. The Conclusion

Don't ignore the conclusion, but don't fret over it too much.

It IS the last thing your reader will read so it needs to really put an end to the paper, but you must avoid going overboard.

Focus on three things:

     First, what's your last sentence going to do?

     Second, how does it relate to your thesis?

     Third, how many students end their papers with a "call to action"?

Go back to that booklet and look at page 10 for information or check out this little slideshow someone made.

     Not everyone likes to work in a group, but when you need to get a job done quickly or need ideas, sometimes it's the best way to go. Tony learned this when he and his friends crashed in the jungle as did the NASA scientists. So when you're assigned to a group project - at school or at your workplace - don't be too quick to say you'd rather work by yourself: you might find that it's not as bad as you thought it would be.

 

These prompts are from STAAR Connection: Writing 7 published by Kamico Instructional Media. Many of their 'think abouts' are pretty weak because they are exactly the same as the prompt :-( Using the 'think about' as your transition will result in unnecessary repetition. The real STAAR won't do this.

P1

READ the following quotation: 

     Men love to wonder, and that is the seed of science." - Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer

THINK carefully about the following statement:

     People have always been curious about the world around them, and this curiosity has given rise to the study of science.

WRITE an essay explaining why the study of science is important in helping us understand our world.

P2

READ the following quotation: 

     The past is never dead. It's not even past."  - Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner    

THINK carefully about the following statement:

     Our history still influences the things we do today.

WRITE an essay explaining why it is important to understand history.

P3

READ the following quotation: 

     "Facts are the air of scientists. Without them, you can never fly." - Nobel Prize winner and American biochemist Linus Pauling

THINK carefully about the following statement:

     Scientists use facts and data to support their ideas and to form new ideas.

WRITE an essay explaining the role that facts and data play in the science.

P4

READ the following quotation: 

     "Climate is what we expect. Weather is what we get." - American humorist and writer Mark Twain

THINK carefully about the following statement:

     Weather affects us in many different ways. [This is a weak "think about" since it's the same as the prompt.]

WRITE an essay explaining some of the various ways that weather affects our lives.

P5

READ the following quotation: 

     "Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." - Carl Sagan, an American astronomer, astrophysicist, and author

THINK carefully about the following statement:

     Important discoveries are being made every day.

WRITE an essay explaining a very important discovery that has helped mankind.

P6

READ the following quotation: 

      "The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge." - American novelist Thomas Berger

THINK carefully about the following statement:

     Asking the right questions is one of the best ways to learn about the world around us.

WRITE an essay explaining how asking questions leads to knowledge.

P7

READ the following quotation: 

     "If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday." - Pulitzer Prize-winning author Pearl Buck

THINK carefully about the following statement:

     Many of the important things happening today have connections to the past. [This is a weak "think about" since it's the same as the prompt.]

WRITE an essay explaining something important happening today and its connection to the past.

 

P8

READ the following quotation: 

     "My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you... ask what you can do for your country." - President John F. Kennedy

THINK carefully about the following statement:

     Many people who serve as teachers, police officers, firefighters, and leaders give to our country by offering their skills and dedication.

WRITE an essay explaining the ways people work to make our country better.

P9

READ the following quotation: 

     "The Constitution is the guide which I will never abandon." - President George Washington

THINK carefully about the following statement:

     The Constitution plays an important role in our lives. [This is a weak "think about" since it's the same as the prompt.]

WRITE an essay explaining how the Constitution plays an important part in your life.

P10

READ the following quotation: 

     "Spring is Nature's way of saying 'Let's party!'" - American actor and comedian Robin Williams

THINK carefully about the following statement:

     Many new and exciting things happen in the springtime. [This is a weak "think about" since it's the same as the prompt.]

WRITE an essay explaining something important that happens during the spring.

P11

READ the following quotation: 

     "There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We are al crew." - Canadian educator and scholar Marshall McLuhan

THINK carefully about the following statement:

     Everyone has a responsibility to take care of our planet.

WRITE an essay explaining things that people can do to make Earth a better place to live.

P12

READ the following quotation: 

     "Our only chance of long-term survival is not to remain lurking on planet Earth but to spread out into space." - British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking

THINK carefully about the following statement:

     Some day, people may learn how to live in space or on another planet. [This is a weak "think about" since it's the same as the prompt.]

WRITE an essay explaining what life might be like living in space or on another planet.

P13

READ the following quotation: 

     "Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom." - American scientist, educator, and inventory George Washington Carver

THINK carefully about the following statement:

     It is very important to take advantage of your opportunities in school.

WRITE an essay explaining the value of education.

P14

READ the following quotation: 

     

THINK carefully about the following statement:

     

WRITE an essay explaining why 

P15

READ the following quotation: 

     

THINK carefully about the following statement:

     

WRITE an essay explaining why 

P16

READ the following quotation: 

     

THINK carefully about the following statement:

     

WRITE an essay explaining why 

P17

READ the following quotation: 

     

THINK carefully about the following statement:

     

WRITE an essay explaining why 

P18

READ the following quotation: 

     

THINK carefully about the following statement:

     

WRITE an essay explaining why 

P19

READ the following quotation: 

     

THINK carefully about the following statement:

     

WRITE an essay explaining why 

P20

READ the following quotation: 

     

THINK carefully about the following statement:

     

WRITE an essay explaining why