The ability to provide information in different contexts is essential to effective communication. Students must practice expository writing throughout their academic careers. The sooner they start, the better. Below are some descriptive, sequential, compare and contrast, cause and effect, and problem/solution writing prompts to help you give your students the practice they need.
- Write an essay describing your school to a potentially new student.
- Write an essay describing the appeal of reality TV shows.
- Write an essay describing a rainy night.
- Write an essay describing your first pet.
- Write an essay describing your first memory.
- It’s Christmas morning and there is a package under the tree containing exactly what you requested. Describe the contents of your package..
- Write an essay describing how you feel when you wake up and discover snow on the ground outside — and school has been cancelled.
- Writing an essay explaining the process you use to style your hair in the morning.
- You have invited your two best friends to spend the afternoon at your home. Write an essay telling how your prepare for their visit.
- Everyone has lost something at one time or another. Write an essay telling what you did to find what you had lost.
- Describe how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
- Tell how you wash your hair.
- Describe the plot of your favorite book.
Compare and Contrast
- Write an essay comparing and contrasting ownership of cats and dogs.
- Compare and contrast this year in school to last year.
- Compare and contrast your two favorite characters.
- Compare and contrast your family’s home and the home of your dreams.
- Compare and contrast a typical day in your life today and what you think a typical day in your life will be like when you are 25.
- Compare and contrast your two favorite teachers.
Cause and Effect
- Write an essay telling how peer pressure has affected you this year.
- Write an essay explaining what causes students to drop out of high school.
- Discuss the causes and effects of bullying in schools.
- Discuss the causes and effects of poverty in rural (urban) areas.
- Discuss the causes and effects of drug or alcohol use on families.
- Most students do not read or watch news, resulting in a lack of knowledge about the world outside of their immediate neighborhood. Write an essay describing why this is a problem and telling how this problem might be solved.
- Think about the community in which you live. What could you do to make it a better place? Choose one problem that needs to be solved to make your community a better place to live. Write a letter to the editor describing how solving this problem would make your community a better place, and tell what you would do. Give reasons why you think your plan would work.
- Think about what you could do to make your school more beautiful. Think about how you would do this. How could you persuade the people in your school that your idea is a good one? Write a letter to the principal of your school asking for support for your plan for making your school more beautiful. Tell what you would do and how you would do it. Explain why you think your plan is important and why it would work.
- Think about animal abuse. Some people abuse animals by being intentionally cruel to them or neglecting their basic needs; others abuse animals out of ignorance. Think about what could be done to prevent both kinds of animal abuse. Write a letter to leaders in your community describing how you would solve this problem, and how treating animals better would improve the lives of animals and people. Explain why you think your plan will work.
I am a secondary English Language Arts teacher, a University of Oklahoma graduate student, and a NBPTS candidate. I am constantly seeking ways to amplify my students’ voices and choices.
Filed Under: PedagogyTagged With: expository writing prompts
After you have a topic idea, what's next? You have to develop information that you will put into your essay and decide on your audience and purpose. Then you will need to decide the point of view, tone, and style of writing you will use. Sound confusing? Don't worry. Just answer the following questions to get ready to write. You can open up a word processing program, copy these questions, and then answer them, or do it the old-fashioned way with paper and pen.
- Topic idea: ______________________________________________. (Write yours out.)
- What kind of expository essay is this? (How to? How does it work? Definition? Fact? Cause? History of?)
- List or cluster different aspects or parts of your topic.
- Circle the aspects which are most interesting to you. Cluster those.
- Do you have enough to say or too much? Do you need to narrow your topic or expand it?
- What sources can you use? Where can you find them?
- What are some things your audience would be familiar with which you can compare your topic with?
- What do they already know?
- What would they be interested in knowing?
- What kind of tone would be best for this audience? (informational, satiric, humorous, folksy, professional?)
- Considering your audience, which point of view would be the most effective one to write in? Would it be better to write in the first person ("I" or "we"), second person ("you"), or third person (impersonal)?
Write Your Thesis
- Your purpose (What do you want audience to think, do, or know after reading? This will be related to what your audience doesn't know.)
- Turn your topic into a question: ___________________________________________
- Answer that question: __________________________________________________
- Make a thesis statement: _______________________________________________
- Essay map—sentence(s) which list main sub-topics: ______________________________________________________________ (These can be headers for sections of the paper.)
- Which sort of organization would work best for you? Examples: chronological (in time), spatial (in space and time), process (step-by-step), topical (part-by-part), cause/effect, historical overview, comparison and contrast, or reverse expectations.
- Write a brief outline for how you will structure the body of the paper.
Intro and Conclusion
- Which of these introduction and conclusion ideas could you use? Reverse expectation, expectation fulfilled, scenario (imagined typical story, also called a case study), personal story, frame story, vivid description, conversation, definition, comparison and contrast, analogy, startling statistic or fact, quotation, story from book or movie.
- Choose the best one(s) for your essay and explain what you will do.
Tone, Voice, and Style
- Which person will you write in for your essay? (1st “I,” 2nd “you,” or 3rd “he, she, it.”) Why?
- What sort of tone will you have? Why? (Example: serious and informative, humorous, sarcastic, enthusiastic.)