When I started my first job as a professional newspaper reporter (This job also served as an internship during my junior year in college — I just didn’t leave for about 6 years.), I quickly realized that all my experience, and all my years of journalism education had not been enough to help me write stories about drug busts, fatal car accidents and tornadoes. All the theoretical work I’d done, and all of the nifty little scholastic and collegiate stories I had done, did not prepare me for real world writing.
At that point, I had to find a solution quickly. After all, I had a deadline to meet, and it was only a few hours away.
One of my colleagues, who also served as a mentor, had the solution. She introduced me to the newspaper’s “morgue.” This was a room filled with filing cabinets in which we kept old — dead — stories arranged by reporter. Whenever I wasn’t’ sure how to write a story, all I had to do was check the morgue for similar stories. If I needed to write a story about a local drug bust, for example, I’d find another story on a similar incident, study its structure, and mentally create a formula in which to plugin the information I’d gathered.
Once I’d gained more experience, and had internalized the formula for that particular type of story, I felt free to branch out as the situation — and my training — warranted.
I do the same thing when I want to write a type of letter, brochure, or report that I’ve never written before.
This is what writing looks like in the real world.
Research by “Write Like This” author Kelly Gallagher indicates that if we want students to grow as writers, we need to provide them with good writing to read, study, and emulate. My personal experience backs this up, as does the old adage “all writing is rewriting,” oft quoted by everyone from LA screenwriters to New York Times bestselling authors.
Of course, if you’re a new teacher like me, there is one problem with providing mentor texts to my students: I have a dearth of middle school level writing sitting around in my file cabinets.
Fortunately, the Internet is full of sources, so I scoured the bowels of Google to find examples. I know how busy you are, so I’m sharing.
Expository writing examples for middle school
Below are several sources of expository writing samples for middle school students.
Finally, here is an article in the New York Times that will help you teach your students real-world expository writing skills.
Descriptive writing examples for middle school
Narrative writing examples for middle school
Argumentative/persuasive writing examples for middle school
Reflective writing examples for middle school
If you know of any other online writing example sources, please feel free to share them in the comments below.
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: writing examples, writing samples
LITERARY ESSAY STRUCTURE
· Relevant background info- including title, author, brief plot summary
· Claim (with reasons stated in it)
Body Paragraphs (2-3)
· Topic Sentence (reason)
· Set up/introduce quote/explain context
· Quote (evidence)
· Analysis (explain significance of quote- how it connects back to topic sentence)
· Closing/clincher sentence- ties it all together
*Each body paragraph should have 2-3 quotes*
· Rephrase (NOT repeat) claim
· Connect to larger picture/discuss significance and implications of the idea you just explored
- WHY is this the case?
- HOW can I make this idea more related to the events in the story?
- HOW can I play with words and phrasing to communicate how this idea is shown in the story more clearly?
Text: "The Harmonica"
Claim Version #1: “Music is important.”
Claim Version #2: “Music can inspire hope.”
- How can I make this theme more related to the events in the story?
Claim Version #3: “Music can help us get through tough times by reminding us of times of happiness and hope.”
- HOW can I play with words and phrasing to communicate this idea more clearly?
Claim Version #4: “Music can help us get through difficult times by reminding us of times of happiness and hope.”
Theme/Claim: “Don’t give in to societal pressures about what gender norms should be.”
Good writers communicate ideas clearly by supporting their claims with specific reasons and evidence.
Strong writers craft thoughtful claims by finding supporting reasons and evidence.
Claim: An important theme in “Thank You, Ma’am” is that empathy is important. This is shown through the way Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones treats Roger with kindness and also how she teaches him a lesson
Reason 1 (Topic Sentence 1):
The idea that empathy is important is shown through the way that Mrs. Luella Bates treats Roger with kindness
- “...go to that sink and wash your face…here’s a clean towel.
- “so you set down while I fix us something to eat.”
Reason 2 (Topic Sentence 2):
The idea that empathy is important is shown through the way that Mrs. Luella Bates teaches Roger a lesson.
- “...I have done things, too, which I would not tell you, son-neither tell God, if he didn’t already know”.
- “Now, here, take this ten dollars and buy yourself some blue suede shoes. And next time, do not make the mistake of latching onto my pocketbook nor nobody else's.”
Name of Story:
Claim (which includes reasons):
Reason 1:Reason 2: Reason 3:
T opic Sentence
I ntroduce Evidence (Background/Context/What is actually happening in the quote)
E vidence (Quote)
D iscussion of Evidence/Analysis (How quote connects to topic sentence)
Transforming Outline into Draft of Body Paragraph
Strong writers communicate their ideas effectively by introducing and explaining evidence.
- Put the quote in your own words
- Describe what is going on in the text when the moment (of the quote) arises
- Explain what the quote will illustrate
- Use sentence starters:
- In this scene …….
- At this point in the story…....
Strategies for Writing Discussion/Analysis (EXPLAINING quote):
- Explain how the quote proves/supports your topic sentence and claim
- Use sentence starters:
- This shows...because…
- This means.../proves.../supports the idea that…
- This illustrates…
- This is significant because...
See example below of how to transform your outline into a TIED body paragraph by using the strategies:
Strong writers improve their writing by receiving and using feedback from their peers.
"The Harmonica" - Claim and Reasons
Claim with Reasons: In “The Harmonica,” the author shows how music can help us get through difficult times by inspiring happiness and hope. This is revealed through the fact that music helps the narrator remember happy times with his family and also makes the present more bearable for him and for others.
Reason 1: The idea that music can help us get through difficult times by inspiring happiness and hope is shown through the way music helps the narrator remember happy times with his family.
Reason 2: The idea that music can help us get through difficult times by inspiring happiness and hope is shown through the way music makes the present more bearable for him and for others.
“The Harmonica” - Evidence
Read each quote below, find it in the story to understand the context, then place the number of each quote underneath the reason that it best proves.
1. “Somewhere outside, a war was raging. But it was far away- a bad dream- leaving us untouched”
2. “I played the harmonica while my parents danced. In our dream we believed the world to be good”
3. “Often, to keep from losing hope, I touched the harmonica, cold inside my pocket”
4. “Sometimes I played it to keep from losing hope”
5. “Though he ached, he could not stop creating beauty”
6. “He worked us, beat us for no reason, without mercy. Yet he recognized beauty.”
7. “I despised myself for every note…until one day a whisper grazed my ear. ‘Bless you.’”
8. “Night after night I touched the harmonica to my lips. I thought of my father…And of prisoners, without hope, who might hear the notes and be lifted, like a flight of birds.”
9. “I played for them, with all my heart.”
Outline for Body Paragraph #2
Claim: The idea that art can help us get through tough times by giving us happiness and hope is shown through the way that music makes the present more bearable for the narrator and for others.
Topic Sentence: The idea that art can help us get through tough times by giving us happiness and hope is shown through the way that music makes the present more bearable for the narrator and for others.
Sample Body Paragraph #2
The idea that art can help us get through tough times by giving us happiness and hope is shown through the way that music makes the present more bearable for the narrator and for others. In the story, the narrator feels guilty playing the harmonica for the Nazi commandant because he knows that other people are starving while he is able to get food. But his feelings change when a prisoner thanks him for his music. The narrator says, “I despised myself for every note…until one day a whisper grazed my ear. ‘Bless you.’” This shows that the narrator’s music actually helps more than just than himself and the Nazi commandant. It turns out that his music is helping the other prisoners in the concentration camp survive by providing a beautiful sound and giving others hope. At the end the story, he decides to embrace his ability to help others through music. He notes, “I played for them, with all my heart.” This is significant because he uses music to not only help himself remember the joy he had with his parents, but also to help others by bringing them joy in terrible circumstances.