When I started my first job as a professional newspaper reporter (This job also served as an internship during my junior year in college — I just didn’t leave for about 6 years.), I quickly realized that all my experience, and all my years of journalism education had not been enough to help me write stories about drug busts, fatal car accidents and tornadoes. All the theoretical work I’d done, and all of the nifty little scholastic and collegiate stories I had done, did not prepare me for real world writing.
At that point, I had to find a solution quickly. After all, I had a deadline to meet, and it was only a few hours away.
One of my colleagues, who also served as a mentor, had the solution. She introduced me to the newspaper’s “morgue.” This was a room filled with filing cabinets in which we kept old — dead — stories arranged by reporter. Whenever I wasn’t’ sure how to write a story, all I had to do was check the morgue for similar stories. If I needed to write a story about a local drug bust, for example, I’d find another story on a similar incident, study its structure, and mentally create a formula in which to plugin the information I’d gathered.
Once I’d gained more experience, and had internalized the formula for that particular type of story, I felt free to branch out as the situation — and my training — warranted.
I do the same thing when I want to write a type of letter, brochure, or report that I’ve never written before.
This is what writing looks like in the real world.
Research by “Write Like This” author Kelly Gallagher indicates that if we want students to grow as writers, we need to provide them with good writing to read, study, and emulate. My personal experience backs this up, as does the old adage “all writing is rewriting,” oft quoted by everyone from LA screenwriters to New York Times bestselling authors.
Of course, if you’re a new teacher like me, there is one problem with providing mentor texts to my students: I have a dearth of middle school level writing sitting around in my file cabinets.
Fortunately, the Internet is full of sources, so I scoured the bowels of Google to find examples. I know how busy you are, so I’m sharing.
Expository writing examples for middle school
Below are several sources of expository writing samples for middle school students.
Finally, here is an article in the New York Times that will help you teach your students real-world expository writing skills.
Descriptive writing examples for middle school
Narrative writing examples for middle school
Argumentative/persuasive writing examples for middle school
Reflective writing examples for middle school
If you know of any other online writing example sources, please feel free to share them in the comments below.
I am a secondary English Language Arts teacher, a University of Oklahoma graduate student, and a NBPTS candidate. I am constantly seeking ways to amplify my students’ voices and choices.
Filed Under: PedagogyTagged With: writing examples, writing samples
Essay Genre: Sample Essays
These essay samples were all written by sixth grade students. These pieces are excellent examples of essays, but as with all writing, even the most famous masterpieces, there is room for revision. Each piece does many things well, and any one piece may serve as a model or ignite ideas for your own essays.
Off-the-Rail Rules for Amusement Parks
“I don’t want the public to see the world they live in while they’re in the park. I want them to feel they’re in another world.” ~ Walt Disney
Some amusement parks are adequately acceptable; some are gloriously great! But the most exceptionally excellent amusement park must contain several key elements to transport you into a world filled with adventure, enjoyment, and imagination. Without rolling rides, soul-saving safety, fantastic food, and willing workers, a park cannot be extraordinary. These critical components keep a park in ship-shape condition for attendees and put the amusement in amusement park.
Obviously, an outstanding amusement park must include adrenaline-pumping rides. There must be rides with heaps of thrilling turns that climb to astounding heights. Furthermore, an extravagant ride must include breath-taking drops, screaming turns, rapid corkscrews, gravity-defying loops, and sudden blackouts. Such features make your heart beat rapidly and add to the excitement of the day. Picture the clinkety clank of the chain pulling your very soul up to the roller coaster’s apex. Feel the cold air kissing your face as murmurs of fear and anticipation fight in your ears with the sound of your racing pulse. Now you have reached the summit. Time stands still. This moment might last forever as you fearfully stare at the drop that appears as if it never ends. Suddenly, you bolt forward. Screams pierce the air as your stomach rises into your mouth. Your hair stands on end as you dart through sharp turns and corkscrews. Your backside raises out of the seat as you are turned upside down before plummeting back to earth, racing into the station with a neck-jerking halt. The ride is over, and you hastily wobble off, catching your breath, to the next astonishing ride. Clearly, a marvelous amusement park must have rides that take you on a journey to the world of extreme. No matter what, you must leave the park exhilarated, but feeling like jello.
To go along with those fantastic rides, an amusement park must be strong in safety. Without safety, people could get seriously injured rather than experiencing pleasure in the park. Rides like roller coasters need the basic restraints such as bars, harnesses, and seat belts. Perhaps these rides should even be equipped with a barf bag! Amusement parks could also have height limits, so short children will not fly out of their seats. Just imagine bumper cars without seat belts, with a person hurling toward you at twenty miles per hour and crashing into you. Ouch, right? You are suddenly jolted forward, without something to keep you from doing just that. Or think of experiencing a gravity-defying plummet without a bar that you can hold onto and that keeps you firmly planted in your seat. Yikes! Maybe even picture a loop-de-loop without a harness. Soon, you might be face-first on the cement. Double ouch! Safety may indeed be the most important component of an out-of-this-world amusement park.
Likewise, an exciting amusement park must have delicious, mouth-watering food that will make your taste-buds sing after you eat it! No amusement park is complete without extraordinary foods. Finding exquisite food should not be challenging. Eateries that cater to every possible taste should be conveniently located throughout the park. After you have experienced a large amount of thrills from the rides, you must be able to take a break to quench your thirst with a glass of lemonade. You must also be able to sprinkle your nose with powdered sugar while filling your stomach with delectable delights such as funnel cakes and churros. If you need a little protein to get your energy back before embarking on more adventure, you should be able to fuel up on juicy burgers or the cheesiest pizza. Even though most of this food isn’t healthy, you must be able to enjoy a tasty treat after your long day at the amusement park. An awesome amusement park absolutely must have scrumptious food!
In order to keep your moods up in an amusement park, the park must have cheerful employees who smile a mile a minute. Who wants to have mopey workers, who are as rude and droopy as angry, disappointed lions that just lost a fight, to ruin your exciting day? For example, when a park visitor cannot find a ride and an employee hands him/her a map and continues to do what he or she was doing, that visitor may feel underappreciated and disgruntled. What really should happen is that the employee should hand the guest a free map and offer to escort that person to the ride in question. Blissful workers will always make your day at an amusement park a mite more magnificent!!!
To conclude, there are four impeccable elements that every amusement park must have in order to be outstanding. Look for these elements in real amusement parks to see if they meet all of the sophisticated standards for a stellar amusement park. Remember, though, that some amusement parks are acceptable, and some are great! However, the most excellent amusement parks must contain these key elements: rolling rides, soul-saving safety, fantastic foods, and willing workers. These critical components are the things necessary in making an amusement park the BEST OF THE BEST! So, in the words of the marketing man from Six Flags, “Start dreaming of screaming!”
Dangerous Beast or Cuddly Critter?
Everybody has his or her own preferences when it comes to everything. Food, colors, clothing, and animals are in this individual spectrum. Every animal deserves a piece of my heart, but some more than others. The animal with the biggest share is an odd creature, the Goblin shark. I only learned of it via a hand-drawing in a book about sea-life. This creature is a mysterious being that has been around longer than modern mankind. It has a face only a mother could love. The habits of the Goblin shark’s everyday life are clouded over with smoke. What is there that we can learn and how much?
Nobody has seen a Goblin shark in perfect physical condition. Its environment [home] is in deep-sea trenches, where only deep-sea submersibles can search. But, whenever one is caught in a net, people can get a glimpse of the shark before it dies. There are two reasons they die: one, the sharks get caught in the nets and two, the rapid change in pressure makes the sharks internal organs explode.
Additionally, the Goblin shark suits its name well. It has a tail that is shaped like a steak knife with a rounded tip. It also has a long, protruding snout that is much longer than any other cartilaginous fish. The Goblin shark is pink because its skin is so thin, you can see the blood vessels. At the beginning of its mouth, the teeth are sharp and thick. Near the end of the mouth, the teeth are long and spindly. The Goblin shark is very sluggish at swimming.
Now, a Goblin shark has a lot to do in a day. The animal has an odd feature that involves the jaw attached to another bone similar to the jaw. This allows the jaw to stretch out from its face. So, when hunting, its mouth shoots out and snatches its prey. The Goblin shark sways its head so the ampullae of Lorenzini can search for prey. Occasionally, they come closer to the surface for more food opportunities. Nothing else is really known about this creature.
To conclude, this is a creature about which there are only a few bits of information. The Goblin shark’s appearance could be called a form of stark beauty. Its daily life is foggy and mysterious in our eyes. This creature is a good example of a living relic, an animal that has been around before man and has barely changed. This creature is an enigma, a mystery in a world of discoveries.
Note: Thanks to the Science Channel and The Quest for the Goblin Shark. These were the resources I used for research information.
I’m sitting poolside with my friends. It’s 87 F, but it feels like 100 F. I feel the sweat beading down my face, but I’m not thinking about that; I am thinking only of my next move. I jump out of my chair. I charge toward the pool with the cement burning the soles of my feet, but I don’t care because there is only one thing I want to do now. I leap into the air, and I feel like I’m flying. There is air brushing across my cheeks. I tuck my feet into my stomach. The next words that come out of my mouth feel amazing. They just roll off the tongue. This one word will make this day the best day of summer.
“CANNONBALL!” SPLASH! I cut through the water perfectly like a sharp knife on a tomato. I fly down to the bottom of the pool. Everyone is looking around wondering where I am. I bend my legs on the floor of the pool and I jump. I fly into the air, and now I am afloat. The water feels cooling on this hot summer day. I go to the stairs of the pool and walk over to my towel, leaving marks on the cement of my feet. I give high fives to my friends. This is definitely the best summer ever. If you haven’t guessed what my favorite season is, then I’ll tell you. It is summer, and this is why.
To begin with, in summer there is obviously no school, and that means no teachers to boss you around. There is no homework that you have to do, and your day is your own to decide. If you want to finish the level (or probably 10), go ahead. It’s your day to decide. If you’re dreaming about lying atop clouds, with bunnies hopping around you while you eat marshmallows and cotton candy, who is going to say you can’t? It’s your day to decide. Who says you can’t go on the high dive. You’re in charge of today. Make it count.
Secondly, summer is about going different places. Since it’s summer you should go outside. You could go to Discovery Kingdom and ride Medusa. There are flips, there is an edgy turn, and you literally go upside-down! WHO cares if you throw up? That’s the joy of being a kid. You’ll shake it off in a second. If you want your summer to be…(dramatic music). GULP! educational. . . then go to Angel Island. There are a bunch of things to do at Angel Island. You can take a tour of the holding facilities, or you could take a hike to get some exercise. Another thing you could do, is to get out of Petaluma and move on over to L.A. Walk the starred sidewalk. Go to Medieval Times and cheer on your favorite knight. The next thing and the last thing I would recommend is going to Disney Land. There are plenty of things to do. For example, you could ride the scary terrain of Space Mountain. You could also ride California Screamin’, or you could just chill at your hotel and relax.
Finally, if you have a summer birthday like me, then you are in for a treat. There are a bunch of payoffs to having a birthday in summer. First of all, you get cold foods like ice cream and popsicles. This is nice because to me, these things are delicious. Another payoff to having a birthday in summer is getting presents that may have significance to summer like water guns (which are really fun to use to shoot your friends on a hot summer day.) One more payoff to having a birthday in summer is when you go back to school. For a few couple of days, you’re the star of school as long as you had a great party your friends will remember.
To sum it up, there are three things that are the key to making summer amazing. They are being in charge of your own day with no teachers to boss you around, going different places for a new exciting day, and the last thing, in my opinion, to making your summer amazing is having your birthday in summer. If you have all these things in summer, your summer will be the best time you ever had.
Finding a Book to Chew and Digest
“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some to be chewed on and digested.” ~Sir Francis Bacon
Finding a book that is thoroughly engaging might sound easy; however, it is not that simple. There are three principal elements that make a story magnificent. With descriptive, vivid details and language, a comprehensible story line with exactly the right pacing, and a satisfying plot that has a moral and touches your heart, you will find a novel that will be glued to your hands. Once you know what to look for in a book, reading will be most satisfying.
To begin with, descriptive language and detail play an important role in an exceptional story. Without these elements, the novel becomes uninteresting. A book could say, “The dog ran fast,” but how interesting is that? Instead, the story could say, “The big brown Collie sprinted as rapidly as a cheetah down the freshly paved street.” Those details give you a picture in your mind. If the story you are reading does not have outstanding word choice and descriptive details, put it down immediately and find a more impressive book.
Of equal importance is choosing a novel with an understandable story line and incredible pacing. That can make the difference between a book you never want to put down and one you would not pick up even if it was the only book in the universe and you were stranded alone on an uninhabited, unexplored planet. Remarkable pacing is a vital element because if the book flips back and forth through time or moves too slowly or too quickly, it will not make sense. If the pacing is perfect, but you feel that the story has crumbled, it may be because there are too many characters, too many sub plots, too few details, or too much description, all of which make the story line impossible to comprehend. As you can see, vivid language that gives strong description and smooth pacing are critical elements to make a novel fabulously entertaining.
The final thing that makes a book extraordinary is an amazing plot to which you can relate. If you have ever had a book that bores you to death it is probably because the story did not have an engaging plot. The plot must have an engaging beginning and a quick start, characters that are well-developed so that you care about them, and a universal conflict to the theme that reels you in and makes you eager to know the resolution. The story should touch your heart and teach you something so that you will not want to put down the book. You, the reader, should learn something about yourself or the world in general. That is the final element that makes a book outstanding!
Now that you know what critical elements a suitable story contains, you can choose an intriguing, excellent book to read for yourself. You will not only find one that you will simply taste and swallow, but one that chew and digest for quite some time. Remember to look for a book with a superior plot with good pacing. Hunt for a story with vivid descriptive language that creates pictures in your mind. Look for a novel that you can follow without getting left behind. Before you know it, you will be caught inside the book. You might be in danger of becoming a crocodile’s dinner or being stranded on a deserted island. Find the perfect book for you, start your adventure, making sure that your book’s plot touches your heart and helps you grow as a person. Remember, in the words of some wise anonymous person, “The road to knowledge begins with the turn of the page.”
A Living Masterpiece
I can still smell the heavy resist, drying densely on my ring of silk, pulled ever so tightly against a hoop about seven inches wide. Splotchy and plodded, the resist’s revolting smell rises and falls, looking plain as plain could ever be. Next to me lay some bottles sitting like a rainbow as they were full of vibrant new silk painting paints. Pulling my head up to gaze at the front of the classroom, where a talented teacher stood, I listened to the instructions of what we would do next.
I’ve spent seven years at Old Adobe, and even so, I could only pick a few teachers who stood out to me the most. One of the few would have to be Ms. Henderson. She knew me the most and helped me develop into who I am today. I spent two years with her and never once did I complain about it. She helped me in anything I was learning, whether it be art or academics. Also, she helped me get more confident and gave me a new perspective for looking at the world around me. Last, but certainly not least, Ms. Henderson’s personality was always great to be around.
Ms. Henderson was very helpful in my years academically. In math, if I needed help, she wouldn’t just lag around waiting for me to somehow magically have the answer pop into my head. Instead, it was as if she took your hand and led you, step by step, undoubtedly and clearly, teaching you every detailed way of how to solve the problem. In writing, she would always edit with me and make sure I understood whatever she suggested to change. In fact, I feel that in fourth and fifth grade, my writing jumped ahead and was the finest it could be. During these cherished years, writing was my strongest point, and because of that, I still continue to love writing as much as I did. Even outside of school, Ms. Henderson encouraged me in striding forward with my artistic abilities, taking time to look at my art and to comment on my works supportively. Generally, Ms. Henderson is very compassionate about everything I do, and despite the fact that I’m not in her group of students nowadays, day by day, she still remains interested in me and my progress.
Additionally, Ms. Henderson has assisted me in making myself who I am at the moment. Fourth and fifth grade with Ms. Henderson has changed me more than any other grades before them. I still bear in mind the day I walked into the fourth and fifth grade combination class, and being a fourth grader, looking up to all those fifth graders was pretty daunting! “I remember seeing you walking in our class as a shy, small-looking fourth grader, and now we almost need you to stop talking!” I recall Ms. Henderson saying at the last day of school as I slowly walked out the door. Gradually, as I got to know my teacher more, I felt more and more comfortable with the outside world going on around me as Ms. Henderson encouraged me a lot. She gave me that extra push that set me off flying into the air. Now, would you look at me? I am talking plenty now, sometimes even too much. However, none of that would have ever happened if it hadn’t been for Ms. Henderson. She brought me out to the world and showed me that I could not draw back if I wanted something my way. She taught me to stand up on my feet. Over those two years, I developed into a confident, enhanced person who saw things from an entirely different perspective that I never had before, all thanks to Ms. Henderson.
Many people would describe a teacher with the words boring, dull, always catches me when I get in trouble. Ms. Henderson is precisely the opposite. She was always a joy to be around. Whenever I needed a hand in something, you could bet that she was there, bringing that radiant glow of light along with her, which followed her wherever she went. Ms. Henderson always had some special kind of humor with her. Not just that dreary, mind-numbing “teacher humor,” but that funniness that made you want to giggle so tremendously hard that you wouldn’t be capable of getting any air. Moreover, she offered kindness and gentleness when you needed it the most. Ms. Henderson wasn’t a hard, cold teacher, but a rather soothing one that helped with any problem, going all the way from academic difficulties to even a crisis between friendships. Ms. Henderson was dependable. I am still happy to go into her classroom and be greeted by her soft smile.
“The best teachers teach from the heart, not from the book.”
~ Author Unknown
Ms. Henderson is a teacher that anybody would be lucky to have. She is a teacher who I will always remember everlastingly given that she assisted me with work, outside and inside of school, helped me transform into who I am today, and has a very loving personality. Ms. Henderson deserves a lot of respect, as she is a great teacher to have. Many of my greatest memories are kept in Room 7, where Ms. Henderson educates her present students effectively. Although I am not one of those students, I still consider that I am with Ms. Henderson every day.
I stare at the resist, still trying to its fullest extent to dry. I then stare at the patient Ms. Henderson, trying her best to fix some of the students’ art which probably had gone frantic. My silk hoop looked very plain, with the residue still drying, almost fading because of its light color. It sat there, appearing rather tedious, motionless and dull. But then, the paint came in and splashed its flamboyant, eye-catching colors down, vivaciously making the painting dazzling in every possible way. Little by little, it turned into…
My Heroic Friend
Though my hero doesn’t fly like Superman or crawl like Spiderman, her cape of heroism is hidden under her benevolence. Heroes are people you look up to, people who are your role models. A hero should set good examples. My hero is my best friend, Erin. Erin is my hero because she taught me manners. She is my role model because I learned how to have fun from her, how to be confident and let loose. My last reason why Erin is my hero is because she does not give up on me.
Usually, parents teach their kids manners, but not in my case. Well, yeah, sure, my mom tried to teach me, but I actually learned from my best friend, Erin. She taught me manners in a way parents have never thought of. When Erin and I were little kids, all the parents loved her because of her manners. I became jealous because all the parents adored Erin due to her politeness. So I thought that if I had those same manners, parents would think I was even more adorable. When Erin agreed to help me with my manners, whenever I forgot to say, “Thank you,” she would automatically say, “You’re welcome.” Personally, I thought it was kind of funny, but it helped. That’s why Erin is my personal hero. I want to be more like her.
When I was little, I was a quiet girl until I met Erin. Erin is a ball of energy that never wears out. It’s like she drinks Rock Stars nonstop. She taught me to loosen up, to have fun, and to take pride and have confidence in who I am. Without her, I would just be some girl, not knowing her inner self, but instead, I stand out, and I’m different. I also wouldn’t have a had a sense of humor. Some people may not think of that as a characteristic for a hero, but to me, it changed my life. Without a sense of humor, I wouldn’t have the same friends I have today. When I’m with Erin, I forget the problems of my life. I look up to her because she gave me confidence, and it’s incredibly important to have confidence. It is something that will help you everywhere. Erin is my personal hero because of her unique qualities.
Though friends come and go from time to time, Erin has been there for me since we were born (literally). Even though we’re in different grades, it somehow keeps us closer. Once we were at dance class, and everybody could do their double pirouette except for me. Everybody went to go celebrate except Erin. She was at home with me, supporting me while I perspired and persevered in trying to do a double pirouette. To me that proves that Erin doesn’t give up on me. She always helps me and puts others before her. That’s my last reason why Erin is my heroic hero and why I look up to her.
In conclusion, my best friend, Erin, is my personal hero. She taught me manners and how to be a polite young girl. In addition, she taught me to have confidence in myself. Erin is like a money tree: You get more than you bargain for. Erin never gives up on me, no matter what. Personally, Erin is my hero, my role model, and the person I look up to. After all the things she has done for me, I want to give back, even though good karma is definitely coming her way. I want to thank my best friend, Erin, for being my hero.