Writing an Expository Essay
Many people regard expository essay writing as detective work.

Part 1 - Expository Essay: Mark Twain's Life (Individual Assessment)
(Two Pages)

An expository essay is a specific type of essay writing in which a student will be required to write in-depth about a particular subject. Expository essays are meant to "expose" a certain idea or piece of information. An expository essay is different than a research essay, which conveys basic information and facts. Students need to research a subject in depth in order to create a research essay. However, they may not need to think critically about that information. When a student needs to write an expository essay, the student not only needs to think critically during his or her research, but the student should also be motivated by his or her ability to uncover new information. An expository essay is, therefore, about exposing the truth behind an idea or fact. A research paper is about providing basic information that can then influence future expository essays. As the student exposes information in the essay, the student should provide an analysis of multiple parts of the subject. It involves providing the reader with information, explaining a topic, or providing a definition to a particular topic. In order to properly develop expository essay, you must develop a strong thesis that is supported by relevant facts and statistics, examples, or other pertinent information. A student takes a subject or question and writes an in-depth analysis of it in order to find out the truth (or the student's opinion of the truth); however, since an expository essay is meant to provide the reader with factual information, the paper should be written from a neutral point of view and without emotion. Expository essays are particular popular in history, political science, and literature courses, as they require students to think critically and write clearly about their thoughts. In addition, it should be written in the third person, which means the essay should not contain the word “I” or sentences such as “In my opinion….”

When writing an expository essay, students need to begin with an introductory statement. This introductory statement should include a thesis, which is a one-sentence statement of purpose. The student will prove the thesis to be true throughout the essay. Each body paragraph that comes after the introduction should have new information that proves the thesis to be true.

Before you begin writing the expository essay, you must develop your ideas. This step of the writing process is usually referred to as “pre-writing.” During the pre-writing stage, you will brainstorm ideas for the essay and you will begin to put them in order. In order to start putting your ideas to order, you might utilize a number of different pre-writing strategies. These include:
  • Making a list
  • Creating a web
  • Developing a map
  • Engaging in freewriting
  • Drawing a tree diagram
If you haven’t already developed a thesis, you should be able to determine one after conducting the pre-writing activities. Although you will have an idea of what the paper will be about before you begin pre-writing, the pre-writing stage will help you develop your ideas further and to hone in on your thesis statement.

Your thesis statement is one sentence that summarizes what the entire expository essay will be about. Based off of your thesis statement, you will need to gather information that helps to support your statement. This will involve conducting research in order to further develop the ideas you wrote about in the pre-writing stage.

In most cases, the thesis statement is included in the first paragraph of the expository essay. This first paragraph is called the “introduction” and is intended to grab the reader’s attention and to provide the reader with the main idea of the essay.

Writing an Introduction for a More Formal Essay (expository or persuasive)
"Hook-transition-thesis" method ...
Your introductory paragraph should include:
1) Hook: description, illustration, narration or dialogue that pulls the reader into your paper topic. This should be interesting and specific.
2) Transition: sentence that connects the hook with the thesis
3) Thesis:
Sentence (or two) that summarizes the overall main point of the paper. The thesis should answer the prompt question.

Example of how this looks:

"People paid more attention to the way I talked than what I said!" exclaimed the woman from Brooklyn, New York in the movie American Tongues. This young woman’s home dialect interferes with people taking her seriously because they see her as a cartoonish stereotype of a New Yorker. The effects on this woman indicate the widespread judgement that occurs about nonstandard dialects. People around America judge those with nonstandard dialects because of _ and _. This type of judgement can even cause some to be ashamed of or try to change their language identity.
Hook: a specific example or story that interests the reader and introduces the topic.
Transition: connects the hook to the thesis statement
Thesis: summarizes overall claim of the paper

After the student has written the body of the expository essay, the student needs to wrap the essay up with a conclusion. The conclusion can be one paragraph or several paragraphs in which the student recaps information shared in the essay. The student also expresses his or her own opinions and ideas in the conclusion in many cases.

Each of the subsequent paragraphs is used to support the topic sentence from the first paragraph. Each of these paragraphs must have a topic sentence, which is a sentence telling the main idea of that paragraph, and the topic sentence must support your thesis. The rest of the sentences within the paragraph are used to further explain and to support the topic sentence. These supporting paragraphs are referred to as the “body” of the essay and, in most cases, the essay should include at least three paragraphs in the body.

The final paragraph of the expository essay is the conclusion. The conclusion should restate the thesis and the main ideas of the essay, though the sentences should be worded differently. The final paragraph should never introduce new material and the final sentence should summarize the essay in a memorable or meaningful way. In doing so, you will leave a lasting impression on the reader that will help your essay stand out from the rest.

Part 2 - Thesis, Antithesis, & Synthesis (Group Assessment)(Three pages)
Collaborative writing assignment – Students will take their expository essays and locate someone with a different viewpoint (antithesis). In pairs or groups they will develop a new a cohesive viewpoint that merges their previous thesis statements (Synthesis). They will follow the same parameters for the previous writing assignment.

Found Poem Instructions
1. Carefully re-read the prose text you have chosen, and look for 50–100 words that stand out in the prose passage. Highlight or underline details, words and phrases that you find particularly powerful, moving, or interesting. Note especially examples that reflect your feelings of the prose’s theme.

2. On a separate sheet of paper, make a list of the details, words, and phrases you underlined, keeping them in the order that you found them. Double space between lines so that the lines are easy to work with. Feel free to add others that you notice as you go through the prose piece again.

3. Look over your list and cut everything that is dull, unnecessary, or that just doesn’t seem right for your poem’s theme. Try to cut your original list in half.

4. As you look over the shortened list, think about the tone that the details and diction convey. The words should all relate to the theme. Make sure that you have words that communicate your emotions or those of the person in the prose text.

5. Make any minor changes necessary to create your poem. You can change punctuation and make little changes to the words to make them fit together (such as change the tenses, possessives, plurals, and capitalizations).

6. When you’re close to an edited down version, if you absolutely need to add a word or two to make the poem flow more smoothly, to make sense, to make a point, you may add up to two words of your own. That’s two (2) and only two!

7. Space or arrange the words so that they’re poem-like. Pay attention to line breaks, layout, and other elements that will emphasize important words or significant ideas in the poem.

  • Read aloud as you arrange the words! Test the possible line breaks by pausing slightly. If it sounds good, it’s probably right.
  • Arrange the words so that they make a rhythm you like. You can space words out so that they are all alone or all run together.
  • You can also put key words on lines by themselves.
  • You can shape the entire poem so that it’s wide or tall or shaped like an object that reflects the theme (say a heart for a love poem?).

Theme Essay (Individual Assessment)
(Four Pages)

During your reading of the novel you will keep a journal. In your journal you will generate a list of references and ideas related to your chosen theme. After you have finished reading the novel and have completed your journal entries, you will write an essay about your theme as it relates to the novel. Most of your prewriting has been done already via your journal entries. Now you must analyze the references and ideas you have collected while you were reading. Go back and read through all of your journal entries.

Freedom : Do all of your entries deal with similar brands and/or manners of freedom or are there numerous instances of freedom/bondage? What different kinds are there? Which examples in your journal support different aspects of freedom/bondage. After you have grouped them, look at your references and ideas for each set. What does each set reveal?

Religion : If you look circumspectly at your journal entries, you will notice different characters hold different opinions about religion. Via those characters Twain also gives his opinions. Catalog your references and ideas by characters and look at what each character says or does relating to this theme. What do you think Twain's view is based on your findings?

Superstition : Huck and Jim put forth most of the references to superstitions in the book; however, there are other subtle instance amongst other characters. Look at your references and ideas for each character and group them accordingly. What are Huck's attitudes towards superstitions? What are Jim's? How does this influence the actions in the novel?

Education : As you look at your references and ideas in your journal, you will see two core notions about this topic. Some characters think book learning is more significant than the practical knowledge that arrives from life experiences, while other characters think otherwise. Catalog your references and ideas into these two categories. Then, note which characters believe schooling is more important and which characters believe practical knowledge from life experiences is more important. What do you think Twain believed?

: There is a fundamental conflict between nature and civilization in the novel. Look at your references and ideas regarding nature. What type of events or reactions occur when characters are in nature and away from civilization? What happens when the characters are back in "civilization." Judging from entries, what do you think Twain was attempting to convey to the readers about nature, civilization, and people?

When you finish the rough draft of your paper, ask a student who sits near you to read it. After reading your rough draft, he/she should tell you what he/she liked best about your work, which parts were difficult to understand, and ways in which your work could be improved. Reread your paper considering your critic's comments and make the corrections you think are necessary.


Character Analysis (Individual Assessment)
(Two Pages)

We have been working with the themes in the novel
Huckleberry Finn; now let's look at the characters. There are numerous and distinctive characters in this book. Your assignment is to choose one character you think you are most like and explain why you think you are most like that character.

Make a list of all the characters in the book. Next to each one, write down two or three of their most characteristic personality traits. Make a list of several of your own personality traits. Decide which character has personality traits closest to your own.

Write an introductory paragraph introducing the idea that you and your selected character have certain traits in common. In the body of your paper, devote one paragraph to each of the traits you have chosen. Write a topic sentence in which you make clear what trait the paragraph will be about. Provide examples of how the character demonstrates this trait and ways in which you illustrate the trait as well. Write a concluding paragraph in which you determine just how much you and your character are alike.

When you finish the rough draft of your paper, ask a student who sits near you to read it. After reading your rough draft, he/she should tell you what he/she liked best about your work, which parts were difficult to understand, and ways in which your work could be improved. Reread your paper considering your critic's comments and make the corrections you think are necessary. Do a final proofreading of your paper double-checking your grammar, spelling, organization, and the clarity of your ideas.

Part #1 – Art Imitates Life Paper.
Part #2 – 15 Minute Multimedia Presentation.

As you read the book Huckleberry Finn, you will notice certain themes are constantly emerging. Four of the main themes are freedom, religion, education, and nature. In groups you will complete a series of assignments which leads towards a final multimedia group presentation relating to the theme you have selected.

Your project is divided into several parts. A description of each part follows:

Research :
This first part is an important base for the rest of your work. You are to keep a journal. As you read the book Huckleberry Finn, keep a record of all the references to your theme that you can find. Jot down the chapter and page numbers and a brief summary of the reference. For example, "Chapter 6, pages 55-57, Huck is kept prisoner by his father" could be a sample entry for the theme of freedom. In another section of your journal, keep a little list of your own thoughts and things you have heard about that relate to your theme, either in fiction or in real life. The last pages of your journal will pull together all of your fragmented references and will incorporate many of your ideas. See Writing Assignment #1 for complete instructions.

Part One – Art Imitates Life (Group Writing Assessment #4)
(Five pages)
There is a saying that art imitates life; in other words, what we read in books, see in movies, or hear in music reflects the events or feelings that are occurring in reality. Examining real life is often the point to examining literature, music, and art. We look and listen to better understand our world and ourselves. In the Theme Essay, you dealt mostly with the novel itself, but in this writing assessment, we will deal mostly with the real world. Your assignment is to look at your theme in our world today. What things, issues, topics, or ideas in our world today relate to your theme?

Taking a look at your
Huckleberry Finn journal and Theme essay you should have enough ideas about your theme in the book. Now take a look at that theme in real life. In this part of your project, you will be brainstorming and gathering information for the "real life" portion of your presentation.

In you chosen groups generate a list of ideas of current topics that relate to your theme. Ask parents, neighbors, friends, etc. what current topics might be appropriate for your theme. Go to the library and look in the guide to periodicals. Then decide which topics you think will work best for your presentation. Which topics do you think will have the most written and visual information readily available for you? Which topics most interest you? Narrow your list down to one topic for each of your group members. Each group member needs to gather information about his/her topic.

Researching Your Theme
Locate plenty of articles from various publications at the library and read them. Be sure to identify the source of your notes somewhere on your page so you know from where your information came. You must cite your sources. If your topic is broad, find information about different aspects so your information is well rounded. Do not limit yourself to the library and periodicals. Check videos, news clips, posters, or other materials related to your topics. Interview people who are educated about your topic. If you do interviews use a video camera. This will give you more material for your presentation. Thin out the things that are not important and keep the things that are essential. Organize the things you decide to keep so that you have a focus that explains the essence of your theme.

Then compile the information into a six page expository essay. This must be done as a group activity. This is why the class worked on the expository essay for Twain’s life and then formulated this into a new essay in groups.


You have looked at your theme both in the text and in real life. Now you need to create a presentation to convey all the ideas you have gathered. Your presentations must include information from the text you read (Huck Finn) and information from your "real world" pool of ideas.

1. This must be a multi-media presentation. That is, you can't just stand up there in front of the class and read a lackluster report to the class. You must give life to your presentation. That means incorporate audio or visual materials (i.e. photos, drawings, charts, maps, video tapes, and/or models, sound recordings, dress up as characters)

2. Every group member must have at least one specific obligation contributing to the presentation of your project.

3. You must include information about your topic in the text, information about your topic in real life, and a summary, which recapitulates your chief points and ties the two portions of your presentation together.

4. Your presentation must last between 15 minutes.

Get together in your group. You have two main bodies of information to work with in your presentation: your topic in the text and your topic in real life. Look at all the information you have gathered. The best ways to organize your presentation is to present all the information about the text and then present the information about real life and then have a short summary connecting the two –or– detail each aspect of your theme one at a time and then discuss its relevancy in the text and then real life.

1. Answer these questions: How much time do you have for your total presentation? How much time will you allow for the portion of the presentation about the text? How much time will you allow for the portion of the present
ation about real life? How much time will you allow for the summary/closing?

2. Will you present the text portion first or the real life portion first?

3. Organize your first portion of the presentation by making an outline. What points do you want to make about your topic in the text? What materials do you have available (or can you create) to make these points? In what order will it be best to present these materials? (Make your outline.) Check to make sure you can present these materials in the time allotted.

4. Organize your second portion of the presentation by making an outline. What related current topics do you want to present? What materials do you have available (or can you create) to make these points? In what order will it be best to present these materials? (Make your outline.) Check to make sure you can present these materials in the time allotted.

5. Make a list of things that need to be done for your presentation. Assign tasks to each group member.

6. Do the tasks that are assigned.

7. Have a "dress rehearsal" of your presentation if you have time.