Writing to Convey Knowledge

The 4 R's of Writing:

Rehearse: Think about what you are going to write next

Reread: Read over what you have written

Revise: Make any necessary changes

Read Out Loud: Read out loud and touch each word you have written

Ideas to Live like a Real Writer...

Writer's Notebook

The writer's notebook is different than a random diary entry, a summarizing reading journal, or letter writing to a friend. According to Ralph Fletcher, it is a place to write down what you noticed and don't want to forget. Writers need a place to record reactions to environmental cues, and those drafts or sketches can then be used as inspirations for writing compositions later. We highly suggest ordering Ralph Fletcher's description of the writer's notebook and follow his tips to get started within his book written for families to read together: A Writer's Notebook: Unlocking the Writer Within You !

Keep a diary!

Try to hunt and purchase inexpensive diaries or journals for your children. The unique diaries with cloth covers, fancy patterns, a lock, and various sizes are very appealing to children; but, a plain notebook or plain cover serve the purpose also. Many famous people wrote in diaries, including Anne Frank, Harry S. Truman, and Lewis Carroll.  Diaries can be used for a variety of purposes such as free writing, to describe feelings and moods, as travel journals, to record observations in nature, and for art or personal reasons.   Jeff Kinney wrote a famous children’s series and became wealthy making  movies of "The Diary of a Wimpy Kid."  So, diaries are for both  boys and girls.  They record memories and can be the documentation of your child’s youth.  Try to cultivate the love of actual handwriting and self-reflection by thinking outside over-priced technology. Most importantly, write with or in front of your children. Let them imitate and innovate your actions!
Maxjournal is an elegant diary/journal app for your iPad. Everything you need is at your fingertips. It is a great app for daily diary or journal entries. This app also allows students to include photos!
Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends.


Kerpoof is an online story and comic-creator which allows students to create comic scenes and stories, as well as animated movies, cards, drawings, doodles and pictures. There are no ads or inappropriate content, and the artwork is fun and lively. Finished products may be saved, printed, or emailed. Great site for story creating!

Printing Press

With Printing Press, students can create a booklet, flyer, brochure or newspaper fairly easily. There is a nice guide that walks you through the process, and the focus is on writing. There is a place within each publication for a picture, but not one that you can add from your computer. This space is reserved for students to draw a picture after printing.

Ask Mr. Fletcher!

Check out other titles from Ralph Fletcher! He has a wonderful series written for young writers and families including Live Writing, How Writers Work, and Poetry Matters.

What are the writing requirements in the Common Core State Standards?

To build a foundation for college and career readiness, students need to learn to use writing as a way of offering and supporting opinions, demonstrating understanding of the subjects they are studying, and conveying real and imagined experiences and events. They learn to appreciate that a key purpose of writing is to communicate clearly to an external, sometimes unfamiliar audience, and they begin to adapt the form and content of their writing to accomplish a particular task and purpose. They develop the capacity
to build knowledge on a subject through research projects and to respond analytically to literary and informational sources. To meet these goals, students must devote significant time and effort to writing, producing numerous pieces over short and extended time frames throughout the year.

Need ideas to improve or accelerate your writing skills? Try the suggestions below!

Informative Writing

"Informative/explanatory writing conveys information accurately. This kind of writing serves one or more closely related purposes: to increase readers' knowledge of a subject, to help readers better understand a procedure or process, or to provide readers with an enhanced comprehension of a concept." (Common Core State Standards, Appendix A, page 23)
It can inform or explain in the following ways (chosen by the writer):
  • Description
  • Sequence
  • Cause/Effect
  • Compare/Contrast
  • Problem/Solution
(Topic, Audience, and Purpose)
  • Develop a topic (What?)
  • Identify audience (For Whom? What might they already know about my topic? What do they need to know? What about my topic might interest them?)
  • Set a purpose for writing (Why? )
#1 Expository Text Structure: Compare and Contrast
When teachers ask students to consider two or more perspectives on a topic or issue, something far beyond surface knowledge is required: students must think critically and deeply, assess the validity of their own thinking... (CCSS Appendix A p.24)

The ultimate goal: Students will be able to integrate information from several texts on the
same topic in order to write and speak about the subject knowledgeably.

Any Topic: Similarities and differences between two texts on the same topic…

Adventures: Compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in familiar stories.

Research Writing

To be ready for college, workforce training, and life in a technological society, students need the ability to gather, comprehend, evaluate, synthesize, and report on information and ideas, to conduct original research in order to answer questions or solve problems, and to analyze amd create a high volume and extensive range of print and nonprint texts in media forms old and new. (Common Core State Standards, ELA Introduction, page 4)
Traditional Research Paper:
  • Based on an interest
  • Includes formal organization structures
  • Contains a thesis statement
  • Is written in third person
  • Based on a personal curiosity
  • Is a personal story
  • Mirrors authentic adult research
  • Can be written in first person

Opinion Writing

Worth a Trip?
Know someplace worth a trip? Has your family been somewhere exciting? Get in the habit of writing about it! Include the following details in your writing: the place, who visited, why they loved it, what it costs, and any extra information you think a potential traveler may need to know!

Try this for authentic practice! Send your travel details to: queries.familyfun@disney.com
Disney will pay you $100 if they use your idea and mention your family by name in the Family Fun magazine. Good luck!
Read a Fascinating Book?
Amazon.com and other book companies allow readers to post reviews online. Make it routine to post your opinion of a book! How?
Briefly tell about the book, without giving away the ending. Give an opinion (e.g., If you like…, you will love this book, or I recommend this book to anyone who likes…). Be sure to support your opinion with specific evidence and examples from the text. Open the file below to view some examples!
Yummy food?
Students can write a review of a restaurant they visited in their community. This can be an opinion piece! The reviews can include where they ate, the history of the restaurant and a review. Students could post the review on Google or the restaurant's website!

What else could students include in a restaurant review?
Offer Some Background – Be sure to offer as much information about the restaurant you are reviewing as possible, including location, type of cuisine, hours, etc.

Name Specific Entrees – Most restaurant-goers will appreciate specific recommendations and whether or not you loved or hated the food. Listing specifically what you ordered will help validate your opinions. Some review websites even have a spot where you can list exactly what dishes you ordered.

Evaluate the Entire Experience - While the food is obviously the main attraction of any restaurant, there are other factors that can greatly influence the overall dining experience including ambiance, décor and service are important to note. For example, how quickly did you receive your food and was the waiter attentive to your needs? Did the décor enhance or distract from the overall ambiance of the restaurant? Be specific as possible about the details of the restaurant.

Use Descriptive Adjectives – To really spice up your review (no pun intended), use descriptive adjectives. For example, instead of simply saying that the grilled chicken you ordered was “bad,” tell why it was bad; was it dry, bland, too salty, etc? Rest assured, you can never provide too much detail in a restaurant review.

Adapted from: Katie Nielsen (http://restaurant-website-reviews.toptenreviews.com)
Movie Reviews
Students love to watch and talk about movies. We should teach them, now, how to write a movie review like the pros. Quality reviews that move beyond generalized opinions such as “oh, it was a great movie” or “the acting was horrible”; but rather gives specific reasons and examples.That's opinion writing according to the Common Core! A few tips...

1. Students can brainstorm reasons that make a film good or bad. Specific reasons might include plot, acting, special effects, humor, direction, editing, costume design, set design, photography, or background music.

2. Next, have students apply these criteria to a film they have seen by writing a movie review that makes their critical stance clear. Be sure to cite reasons and provide specific examples from the movie.