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Expository Writing: Format through Physicality

Context for this Lesson

Teaching Strategies: 
School District: 

GENERAL TOPIC:  Expository Writing Format

GRADE LEVEL: English I/Grades 9/10


  • How can we use active drama strategies to help teach basic expository writing structure grade classroom?
  • How can drama strategies be used to illuminate how when parts work together they can help create a cohesive whole?



§110.31. English Language Arts and Reading, English I 

Knowledge and Skills: 

  • (15) Writing/Expository and Procedural Texts. Students write expository and procedural or work-related texts to communicate ideas and information to specific audiences for specific purposes. Students are expected to:
    • (A) write an analytical essay of sufficient length that includes:
      • (i) effective introductory and concluding paragraphs and a variety of sentence structures;
      • (iii) a controlling idea or thesis;

THEATRE TEK/S: 117.64 Level I (c)

  • (1) Perception The student develops concepts about self, human relationships and the environment, using elements of drama and conventions of theatre. The student is expected to:
    • (C) employ stage movement and pantomime consistently to express thoughts, feelings and actions
      • (iv) an organizing structure appropriate to purpose, audience, and context

Common Core State Standards:

Writing Standards Grades 9-10

Text Types and Purposes 

  • (2) Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
    • a. Introduce a topic; organize complex ideas, concepts, and information to make important connections and distinctions; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., figures, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
    • b. Develop the topic with well-chosen, relevant, and sufficient facts, extended definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples appropriate to the audience’s knowledge of the topic.
    • c. Use appropriate and varied transitions to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships among complex ideas and concepts.
    • d. Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to manage the complexity of the topic.
    • f. Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the information or explanation presented (e.g., articulating implications or the significance of the topic).

"Raise your hand if you have brothers or sisters? Raise your hand if you have any younger siblings? Older siblings? Have you ever played catch with one of your brothers or sisters? How many of you have ever played catch in P.E.? What we’re going to play today is like a game of catch but with a twist."

       Three Ball Toss -  

Everyone stand in a circle. Toss one beanbag around the circle until everyone has had it exactly once (a good way to check this is to have players raise one hand if they’ve had the ball). Each time you throw it to someone say his or her name. Then repeat, asking students to try to pass it to someone who hasn’t had the beanbag. The object of the game is to say the name of the student each time the beanbag is passed. Once the group is comfortable with this, add the second beanbag a few seconds after the first. Every time this second beanbag is passed, it is passed to the person on the right. Each time you throw it to someone you count up. The first person that begins the toss will say the number one, the next person two, and then three and so on in consecutive order. The group should now be tossing two beanbags at once in the same pattern. Go for a while and then stop. Then challenge the group.

“ Great. I saw ____” List off several things you saw the group doing well, anything that looks like teamwork or anything that keeps with rules of respect and safety stated in the beginning of class.

“Now, let’s see how high we can count as we play three ball toss.”

Possibly say, “Let’s see if we can get to ___ #.” That number will depend on how high they get in that first round. Set a reasonable goal so they can meet it. 

Then start the game again. Begin with one ball, then two. Let the number go as high as it can go with students playing successfully and then congratulate them for their excellent teamwork, focusing on specific tasks they did well.


  • Were we able to keep both beanbags going at once? Why?
  • What are some of the things we did to help keep the beanbags going at once? How did you know if your partner was ready to throw or catch?


  • “Let’s think about how different parts can work together to make a complete whole.”

        Transition: “Great job working together and learning a new game. I have another new game to show you. ”


Data Processing -

1.  Alphabetical order - Choose areas where students have enough room to create single file lines. Then, break up the larger group into groups of four. Explain to the class that they are going to arrange themselves in a line alphabetically by the first letter of their last name when you say "go".

“When I give the signal you and your group are going to look at your name tags and start getting in line order by the first letter of your last name. To give you an example my last name starts with an “A” so if Mrs. Moore and I were on the same team as someone with a last name like Ruiz and Smith, I would stand in front of Mrs. Moore, Ruiz would stand behind her and Smith would be last. Does that make sense?”

Once the students understand the rules of the game call "go" and begin. After they have gone for one round (to make sure they know how to play) up the stakes by timing them to see how fast they can arrange themselves alphabetically by first name. Have Stephanie stand between two groups while you stand between two of the other groups to time them.


  • How did we organize ourselves?
  • How did we work together well?

Transition: “Wow! I can’t believe how quickly all of you were organizing yourselves into groups. I’d like all of you to sit down in your assigned seats. We’re going to organize ourselves differently now and do part two of this activity, and it begins with this essay which all of you are familiar with.”

4. SHARING: The following essay is from:

This is the story which your students will need to have read and looked at prior to the lesson. Students will also need to have marked and labeled the right side of the column in a previous lesson.

Consider the Challenges

It is the last game of the volleyball season. Fans are tightly packed in the bleachers.

Cheerleaders are screaming and encouraging the fans to do so, too. The home team needs

this last point to win the game. It's your turn to serve; the pressure is overwhelming.

You get the ball, serve, and . . . it's perfect! Your team wins the game. The fans are

shouting your name. You are the hero of the team. Being on an organized team sport

for your school can be a great experience, but there's a downside, too, that all of us                         (MAIN IDEA)

should be aware of.

Team sports can provide a wonderful road to fitness, but they can also                                               (PRO-CON1)

lead to injuries. With a team sport, you don't have to plan for exercise because the                     (REASON 1 PRO)

sport makes it an automatic part of your daily schedule. With the regular practice and

games, you maintain an active, healthy lifestyle. The best part is that you're having fun                        (EXAMPLE)

being fit. Playing volleyball on a team with your friends certainly beats jogging alone. Of            

course, with the constant running, lunging, and practicing, you greatly increase the chances      (REASON 2 CON)

of getting hurt. If you jog one lap too many, or if you aren't looking when someone bumps                     (EXAMPLE)

you the ball, you could sprain an ankle or get a concussion and be forced to sit out the rest

of the season.

Aside from the physical rewards and challenges of a team sport, think about the                               (PRO-CON 2)

value of team spirit. Remember, however, that when successful team members bond with

one another, less successful players can feel excluded. The winning point here is that you           (ADVANTAGE 2)

and all the people on your team share a common interest. You can become very close.

Whether it's talking about the ref at yesterday's game or arguing over whose turn it is to

bring a snack to practice, you and your team members enjoy being together. You feel like               (EXAMPLES)

friends for life. It's a huge relief when someone on the other team makes fun of you, and

your teammates band together to confront the harasser. Think about the flip side, though.

Someone is bound to be left out. Maybe it's Patty, who can't serve well, or Laurie,                (DISADVANTAGE 2)

who is kind of quiet. They won't share in the good times with the rest of the team.                              (EXAMPLE)

They're the ones who get whispered about in the locker room, the ones who get left out of

parties that include more successful team members. It really hurts to be excluded from an

experience that's supposed to be fun.

Part of the fun, of course, is the exhilaration of winning, but don't forget that for every                        (PRO-CON 3)

team victory, another team has lost. Playing on a team can be especially exciting at games,         (ADVANTAGE 3)

when there's a whole gym full of fans shouting to support you, ready to idolize you if you win.               (EXAMPLE)

There's nothing better than winning. But you can't win all the time. Let's say that you               (DISADVANTAGE 3)

miss serve or hit the ball out of bounds, causing your team to lose a game. No one in the entire           (EXAMPLE)

school will hesitate to tell you that you missed the easiest play in the world and that your

whole team played a sloppy game. The least that will happen after a loss is the unavoidable

let down of losing.

I think team sports are definitely worth the challenge. Yes, you can be injured in

the pursuit of fitness. You also risk the terrible feeling of being excluded if you don't play as            (CONCLUSION)

well as others, and without fail you will experience what it feels like to lose. On the other hand,               (RE-STATE

as a fit team member, you can work toward team spirit for all. After all, when teams                                         MAIN

reach out to include one another, they've won the most important game of all.                                                  IDEA)

“Today we’re going to review the essay you looked at. This was a pro/con expository essay about team sports. I’m going to need some volunteers in a bit, so when I do I’ll let you know and you can just raise your hand. “

(The story is projected).

  •  “What was the main idea of this essay?”

Place a name- plate (Card stock with yarn) over each student as each part of the essay comes up to the front of the room. This part should say:

“INTRO: MAIN IDEA: Being on an organized team sport for your school can be a great experience, but there's a downside, too, that all of us should be aware of.”

Take a volunteer and have that student come to the front of the room place this “Main Idea” in front.

“Great. Now we’re getting into the body of our essay. This is going to explain our thesis with specific reasons and examples right? This section is going to talk about fitness. We need pro’s and con’s. Do I have a volunteer?”

“BODY: REASON 1: FITNESS- PRO EXAMPLES: Active healthy lifestyle and have fun. CON EXAMPLE: Injury”

The “BODY: REASON 1” of the essay stands behind the “Main Idea” and so on. Have the person who comes up to the front of the room read their card out loud.

“Awesome. The next paragraph is part of the body of our essay. It talks about team spirit. Who wants to be the Team Spirit part of our essay?”

“BODY: REASON 2: TEAM SPIRIT – PRO EXAMPLES- Feel like friends forever, common interests. CON EXAMPLE: Leaves some people on the team out.”

“BODY: REASON 3: Playing on a team can be exciting PRO EXAMPLE – Winning is great. CON EXAMPLE – Losing is not.

“CONCLUSION: MAIN IDEA: Weighs the advantages and disadvantages.”


“Here is our expository essay. Can you see what order they are in? Does it make sense why they are in this order? Alright, here is your challenge: I am going to break you up into 4 groups of 5. You are going to have the same cards in your group of this same essay. I will want you to get into this order in just a moment with your groups. Once you have your cards you will have to arrange yourself in the correct order. Let’s see which group can get into the correct order the quickest. Let’s remember to stay safe and respectful as well.”

After the students have gone two times stop them.

Transition: “Awesome. I saw____” list two or three things that you saw people doing well in their small groups. “We’re going to look at one more portion of the essay before we stop today.”

“Let’s take the parts of this essay that we know already. I have some new cards for us.”

New cards will be taken out that re-state what the students already know but in more specific terms. Reasons and Examples will be on separate cards and the thesis will be separated out from the introduction and the conclusion making it 12 cards total. Walk the students through getting in order again. Again use positive reinforcement and again see how quickly they can do it. Then tell them that before we compete with you want them to try something. Have them line up as fast as they can to practice and then tell them to “Freeze!” Pull out one segment of the essay by pointing and saying, “Step out” then have another part do the same. Spotlight each part of the essay going down the line saying the summarized parts of the essay out loud and skipping the parts that are missing.


  • How does it sound when parts are missing? What happened when we removed some of those parts?
  • Why doesn’t it work?

Have the groups compete by lining up against each other at least twice. So they each get a chance to win.




  • What did you learn today about the structure of an expository essay?
  • How are the different parts of an expository essay connected?
  • What’s one thing you are going to take away with you today?
Extensions/Applications : 

This lesson can be adapted with a different essay and used with upper elementary and middle school students who are studying expository writing as well.