Teaching expository writing, or informational writing as many refer to it, can really be fun for the students! Some of the most memorable lessons have come from writing lessons in my middle grades classrooms throughout the years. And if you can get middle school students excited about writing, well, miracles have taken place!
What is expository writing? Expository writing is any writing with a purpose of explaining or informing. Think about how many times we read informative pieces of writing during the day. It is imperative students learn how to read and write informatively.
One activity the students absolutely love is the "how to" activity. In this lesson, I have the students divide into groups, usually three students. Each student has a specific job: reader, recorder, and time keeper. Every job is vital to the success of the group. As the group works through the activity, the jobs rotate from student to student, so everyone gets an opportunity to work each job.
There are five different "how to" scenarios the students work through during the activity. The five scenarios I use are:
1. How to Make a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich
2. How to Jump Rope
3. How to Make Your Bed
4. How to Make a Grilled Cheese Sandwich
5. How to Tie Your Shoe
The scenarios are cut into strips, and the groups have to put the strips in order of how you would complete each scenario. It gets tricky for some groups because they soon realize they skip steps or don't think about steps in the process.
Here is how a typical "how to" scenario activity works:
1. The reader reads aloud the strips.
2. The recorder takes the strips and places the strips in the order in which they occur chronologically.
3. The time keeper makes sure the group stays on track and adheres to the time.
4. Once all strips have been placed in order, the reader reads aloud the strips the group placed in order.
5. The group makes any final changes to the strips before checking it by the key provided by the teacher.
Generally, I allow the groups to work through all five of the scenarios. The students have so much fun with this activity. As a follow-up to this activity, they (as a group) create their very own "how to" scenario.
If you are looking to incite fun into your classroom, give this activity a try! You will not regret it! It is student tested and teacher approved!