EXPOSITORY WRITING PROMPTS

Exposition is a type of oral or written discourse that is used to explain, describe, give information or inform. The creator of an expository text cannot assume that the reader or listener has prior knowledge or prior understanding of the topic that is being discussed. One important point to keep in mind for the author is to try to use words that clearly show what they are talking about rather than blatantly telling the reader what is being discussed. Since clarity requires strong organization, one of the most important mechanisms that can be used to improve our skills in exposition is to provide directions to improve the organization of the text.

Expository text is meant to deposit information and is the most frequently used type of writing by students in colleges, high schools, middle schools, elementary schools and universities. A well-written exposition remains focused on its topic and lists events in chronological order. Examples of expository writing include driving directions and instructions on performing a task. Key words such as first, after, next, then, last, before that, and usually signal sequential writing. Second-person instructions with “you” are acceptable. However, the use of first-person pronouns should be avoided. Expository essays should not reveal the opinion of the writer. All expository writing prompts gives something to the students to write about. It pricks their creativity into action. A prompt that does not create enough information for the students or the target audience to respond accordingly is considered to be the most worthless of them all.
Fortunately, few writing teachers’ prompts are that poor, which is because of the fact that now days the teachers are duly and efficiently being trained in pricking the creativity of the target audience and unbound the hidden talents. Most specify at least a writing topic for the writing, although the topic may be described so broadly as to give very little help to the writer. “Write about an important person in your life” is an example of an essay topic so broad it will totally confound beginning and struggling writers. Better prompts put cues in context. A better type of prompt includes context and directions that tell the writer the purpose of the writing, the audience, and the format of the final piece. An assignment in a English language arts class might say this: Write a five paragraph essay in which you recommend the school library purchase a specific book or piece of software. Those directions tell writers the format is a five-paragraph essay, and the purpose is to persuade the staff to make a purchase. The directions imply that the audience is the school library staff. Some would suspect, however, that the real reader is the English teacher and that no librarian will ever see the essays. A good prompt includes all information students need to develop an appropriate response to a writing assignment. You can see how much easier it is for students to work from a good prompt by comparing a good one with a poor one.

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