Expository Writing

One-semester Course
Open to 10, 11, 12
Range of difficulty 1-3

1. Rationale

Writing forces exploration and organization of one’s thoughts. It produces a tangible and sharable body of ideas and information. Expository Writing hones the college-bound student’s thinking and writing skills, skills required in most academic areas. Emphasis is on organization, technical control, development of ideas, and style. Students gain an understanding of the writing process: choosing a voice and an audience, drafting, revising, and editing. Through writing samples and shared student writings, students learn to edit their own as well as their peers’ writing and then to revise their work.

2. Topics and Themes Emphasized

• Expository essay
a. precis
b. character sketch
c. personal experience
d. comparison/contrast
e. persuasive argument
f. literary analysis

• Evaluating, critiquing, and editing skills

• Writing style

• Understanding of writer’s voice and chosen audience

• Vocabulary

• Grammar and syntax

• Journal writing

• Timed, in-class essay writing

3. Methods and Sample Assignments

Kinds of questions and thinking required:

• Why write? Will I need to write today and beyond? What is the writing process? How is writing part of the thinking process and part of observation and assimilation? How is it connected to other disciplines? How does one develop a writing style? What is good writing? How does one become a good writer?

• Students regularly evaluate and discuss sample writings in preparation for the writing assignment for the week. Some class periods are spent on grammar and vocabulary. Some class time is devoted to sharing students’ writing and critiquing papers. Students act as the editors for one another, and then they revise their work.

4. Expectations for Students

Reading: Students are assigned sample essays as models for the type of essays they are assigned to write.

Writing: Students write frequent essays and there is some weekly writing. Essays may be critiqued by one’s peers and then rewritten to be evaluated again. Student have in-class writing assignments and may have outside journals in which they write weekly. Journal entries consist of assigned and unassigned topics.

Listening and Speaking: Students are required to listen carefully to one another’s writing and commentary. Their observations must be accurately presented. Students depend on one another as editors to aid in the revision of their work

Other: Vocabulary and grammar reviews and tests may be given.

5. Reading Lists and Other Materials

Readings are generally drawn from the following list:

Elements of Style, Strunk and White
Practical Guide to Writing, Barnett and Stubbs


“A Room of One’s Own,” Virginia Woolf
“I Have a Dream,” Martin Luther King
“A Plain Brown Wrapper,” David Mamet
“Race and Class,” William Hazlitt
“When Ethnic Studies Are Un-American,” Arthur Schlesinger
“Libido for the Ugly,” H. L. Mencken
“Many Mansions,” Joan Didion
“If I Could Write This in Fire, I Would Write This in Fire,” Michelle Cliff
“Shooting an Elephant,” George Orwell
“Pizza in Warsaw, Torte in Prague,” Slavenka Drakulic

Praisesong for the Widow, Paule Marshall
Maurice, E. M. Forster
Black Swan Green, David Mitchell

6. Bibliography

Patterns of Exposition, Decker
At Large, Ellen Goodman

Sample Assignments

1. Comparison and contrast essay: Students write an essay comparing and contrasting an ad circa 1940’s, 1950’s, or 1960’s with a contemporary ad for the same product.

2. Literary analysis: Students write on the use of the imagery to support the theme in “The Heavy Bear Who Goes with Me, ” by D. Schwartz.

3. Write about a subject of your choice under the broad category of “Race and Class.” Use a controlling metaphor in your essay.

Comments are closed.