Adding Polish to Expository Writing

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SWBAT include logical headings and media to enhance expository writing by revising literary analysis essays.

Big Idea

A picture is worth a thousand words, and so is a good title; use headings and media to enhance writing.

Do Now: What's in a Picture?

5 minutes

Adding Polish: Headings and Media

20 minutes

With students engaged by the concept of "breaking" the rules, I move into new skills. Both topics we'll cover today relate to what I call final polish: headings and media. As I explain to students, these aren't necessary but can certainly enhance an essay's engagement for the audience and aid comprehension.

I start with headings, though the PowerPoint itself encompasses more than just headings to help organize an essay; I begin by sharing a common problem I receive from former students.

"My professor assigned an expository essay with no other direction. Help!" Students chuckle a little; I'm guessing they don't believe me. I reiterate that it's a true complaint I've heard from multiple students and ask, what would you do? Silence. They don't know. So, I offer some ideas. Start with a broad topic. Then, choose an organizational structure to help narrow the focus of the essay. I use the PowerPoint to show how I would set up an essay by organization structure and offer a few tips. Of course, the three expository essays my students have completed all featured more specific instructions, and so, I reassure, they are already set for organization.

Finally, we reach headings, what students will need to apply immediately. I share my tips and examples, from basic academic headings to more engaging headings for varied purposes.

Next, we study media. Again, I share tips and examples, including not only media, but captions to help connect to the essay.

What's most important? I remind students of what I said in our warm-up. Polish like media and headings are only good while they enhance the essay; to use them too much or to create sensationalism will not help a writer reach his or her audience.

Revising the Literary Analysis Essay

20 minutes

I want my lecture to immediately stick, so we jump right into application. I ask students to add headings and media to their most recent expository essay, the literary analysis.

I circulate as students work, reminding them of what we know about plagiarism. One cannot simply steal an image from the internet. Images used must be approved for reuse and properly cited. Many students express uncertainty about finding safe images, so I quickly pull everyone back for a mini-lesson on Google images. When running a search, select search tools, then usage rights-->labeled for reuse to find appropriate images. This safety feature soothes worried students (I may have overemphasized the legal danger of stealing copyrighted work in an effort to "scare them straight," but I figure better safe than sorry).

Other than images, students have few questions and embrace the search for interesting words and images to enhance their work.