Helping students incorporate narrative elements within their expository writing through the use of model texts.

by Angie Miller

Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12


Non-fiction writing, argumentative, informative, explanatory text, and writing across the curriculum are all called out in the Common Core Standards. Not all teachers are trained well in expository writing and it’s my goal to make them feel more comfortable with it.

Most student writing feels like regurgitation – it can be flat and boring. But good, lively writing is one of the most critical skills we can give our students because it represents their voice and what they are thinking.

In an essay writing unit, I have my students:

-Begin by looking at a set of notes that they may have seen while working on strategies for notetaking;

-Invite students to write a paragraph based on those notes;

-Have them read a exemplar essay based on the same notes; then

-Compare what they wrote to the exemplar and analyze the differences.

Many students recognize that good writers use narrative aspects in expository writing, including careful word choice and sentence structure, and story elements.

Once they recognize and catalog the strategies that good writers use, they apply those strategies to their own writing to make it come alive. At the end of the unit – usually after a week – students post their best work anonymously around the classroom to be evaluated by their peers. This small competitive element motivates even my most reluctant writers to push themselves to produce their best work.

About Angie Miller

Angie Miller, a grade 7-12 teacher-librarian in Meredith, New Hampshire, has been working with students on integrated, authentic, and purposeful wr...

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