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26 Responding to Explanatory Prompts

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Start-Up Activity

Put this explanatory prompt on the whiteboard:

In an essay, explain how do to something. Be sure to include the important steps.

Then give students 5 minutes to plan their writing. They should quickly analyze the prompt, create a focus statement, and list the steps. After 5 minutes, see how well they completed these tasks. Assure them that this chapter teaches strategies to help them do all of these tasks.

Think About It

“Writing comes more easily if you have something to say.”

—Sholem Asch

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Writing to an Explanatory Prompt

Use this page to teach the PAST strategy for analyzing prompts. PAST is an acronym of Purpose, Audience, Subject, and Type. This strategy helps your students quickly analyze any writing prompt, making sure they understand it and create an on-target response.

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Page 191 from Writers Express

Sample Explanatory Prompt

Use this page to help your students understand what an explanatory prompt might look like and how they can analyze it. Have them cover the PAST box on the right and try to identify the Purpose, Audience, Subject, and Type in the prompt. Then have them uncover the box and check their thinking.

Afterward, have student volunteers read the explanatory response aloud, one paragraph at a time. Then discuss the side notes.

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Sample Explanatory Response (Continued)

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Prewriting: Planning Your Response

Use this page to help your students gain quick strategies for timed explanatory writing: finding a focus, listing and arranging details, and managing time. Advise your students to use a compacted version of the writing process. They should spend about 5 minutes up front in prewriting, most of their time writing the response, and about 5-10 minutes afterward revising and editing it.

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Writing, Revising, Editing, and Proofreading

Remind your students that they need to develop an effective beginning, middle, and ending. Download and distribute the explanatory essay revising checklist to help students know what to look for during the revising step.

After you finish reviewing the compacted writing process for timed writing, give your students practice by having them analyze and respond to the following explanatory prompt.

In every household, different people have different responsibilities. Some people do the shopping. Some do the cleaning. Some do the homework. How are responsibilities split up in your household? Who does what? Write an explanatory essay that names the main responsibilities and explains who does them. Make sure to include specific details so that your classmates understand how things get done at your house.

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Page 195 from Writers Express

Responding Review

After students complete their practice explanatory assessment writing, review their experience, using this page as a guide. Ask your students what part was easiest for them. Ask them what part was hardest. Decide whether you need to provide students more help with the harder parts.

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English Language Arts: