Common Core Expository Essay Writing Tools

Whaaaat?  A school post. I don’t even remember the last time I did one…..

tools for an  informational essay

But alas, I have some tools to share with my fellow teachers. This year I have been making videos to accompany my lessons for students who are absent or struggling with concepts. Have you heard of flipped classroom? It’s when the students watch instructional videos and come to class with the material already “learned” so you don’t have to waste class time taking notes/doing direct instruction. Instead, class time is used to do “homework” or “practice” the skills you “taught” in the video. This isn’t so cut and dry with English. I don’t think it works very well with an ELA class, but a colleague is doing it with her math class and I think the flipped model is a great idea for math. I feel like in math the teacher has to give the notes on how to do the problem, and half the kids probably aren’t listening….then they go to do the homework and they don’t know how.

So with flipped classroom in a math setting the kids would watch the instructional video at home, then come to class and practice the problems. Now the kids who didn’t watch the video and or are struggling can get face to face time with the teacher while the advanced kids move on with the problems and videos. My friend has had great success with this method. I just don’t think it works for ELA per say. BUT…

I still like the idea of having instructional videos for lessons available for kids who were not here or are still struggling with a concept. With my short, 68 minute, every other day blocks it’s hard to differentiate or pick up students who don’t understand after the fact. I make videos for every lesson outlining what we did and the key concepts and students who are absent or struggling can just watch the video! We have a lot of attendance issues this year and it makes giving students back work a breeze. It becomes THEIR responsibility to learn what they missed.

Yes, making the videos is time consuming but I think about the fact that next year they will all be done. So I think it’s worth it. I know there are tons of resources like Learnzillion to get videos from but I really just like making my own stuff.

I made a set of videos that explains how to write an introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion of a common core expository essay. This essay would work for any simple, explanatory essay especially to prepare for state exams. Our essay was based off of the short story “The House on Mango Street” by Sandra Cisneros (excerpt from the novel- first chapter). So for your students you can just tell them to plug in the applicable story. Here is the example of the essay question I give my students. This is for the first chapter of the novel “The House on Mango Street.”


Body Paragraphs


Also, I have a great graphic organizer that students can use, available on my Teachers Pay Teachers site! This organizer corresponds to the items in the videos. It is also completely aligned to common core standards! This is for 8th grade but anything in the middle grades is pretty much the same.

Informative Essay Graphic Organizer

What do you think about the “flipped classroom” idea?