An important key to academic success is teaching students at all grade levels how to produce informative/explanatory writing that has a clear purpose and engages the reader. In effective informative/explanatory writing, the writer examines a subject and strives to increase readers’ interest, knowledge, and understanding.

Here are six tips that can be used immediately in the classroom—complete with downloadable writing activities and training videos for teaching each strategy.

 

 

1. Turn a Writing Prompt into a Topic Sentence


Whether a topic is assigned or selected by the student, writers need to understand that developing a topic requires careful thinking about the purpose and audience. The result is a topic sentence that is precise as well as interesting.

Watch the video to see how to teach students in grades 6–8 to use key words from a prompt when writing a topic sentence for an informative/explanatory writing assignment or test. Download the accompanying activity tools for students in grades K–12.

 

SUTW Tip 1


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2. Identify and Order Key Ideas


It’s never too early to teach students how to categorize and sort ideas. Over time, students learn the importance of distinguishing key ideas from details and organizing ideas logically.

Download activities to teach organization in fun, age-appropriate ways for students at all grade levels, K–12.

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3. Connect Ideas with Transitions


Transitions help readers follow the development of the topic by showing the relationships between ideas. The process of selecting the right transition words helps students clarify their own thinking about how their ideas are related.

Watch the video to learn how to teach transitions in meaningful sets to students in grades K–2 so they can connect key ideas in order to organize their writing and make it easy to understand. Download the accompanying activity tools for students in grades K–12.

 

Tip 3


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4. Write Successful Conclusions


To write a successful conclusion, students need to tie back to the topic statement and also give readers food for thought.

Watch the video to learn tips for teaching students in grades 3–5 to identify conclusions and tie writing back to the topic without adding any new information to the informative/explanatory assignment. Download the accompanying activity tools for students in grades K–12.

 

Tip 4


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5. Improve Writing with Revision


Revision is often hard for writers at any skill level. Using these tools can help students focus on aspects of their work and the work of peers that need improvement.

Watch the video to learn how to teach students in grades 6–8 to help each other revise and improve writing by participating in constructive peer-review interactions in the roles of reviewer and writer. Download the accompanying activity tools for students in grades K–12.

 

Tip 5


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6. Add Text Features and Graphics


Adding drawings, charts, and pictures can make any writing topic more understandable and enjoyable. Understanding differences between types of graphics like charts, figures, diagrams, timelines, and maps is important—as is knowing where to locate them, where to place them in writing, and how to properly cite sources.

Watch the video to learn how to teach students in grades 9–12 to utilize graphics effectively in order to visually convey and clarify complex ideas and aid readers’ comprehension. Download the accompanying activity tools for students in grades K–12.

 

Tip 6


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Each of these tips, tools, and videos are part of Step Up to Writing®, systematic writing instruction designed for learners of all levels and types, from kindergarten through 12th grade. Step Up to Writing breaks writing skills into steps that provide variation and differentiation based on student needs. Help your students meet rigorous standards and become proficient and confident writers.