Teaching Your Students to Elaborate on Their Writing & Thinking

Hi Everyone!

As many of us are readying our classrooms to return back to school, I wanted to share something that works in my classroom when it comes to having your students elaborate on their writing and thinking.  This is usually a difficult skill for students, especially for middle school students. Middle school students do not always have the cognitive maturity to make deep inferences, and their explanations are usually vague and lack thoroughness.  Let me share with you with works in my classroom with elaboration:

Normally, in writing, our students elaborate when responding to a quotation, text-based evidence, and literature (fiction & non-fiction), and this goes for any subject.  Again, when we ask our students to elaborate on their thinking, it usually falls short.

I use a two-step method:

First, the students are asked to explain the answer to the question, the citation, the quotation, or prompt.  This is pretty much a complete sentence.  Following this, the second step is to make a inference or draw conclusion that is not explicitly stated.  Normally, I ask the students to ask themselves, "HOW" or "WHY"?  For example, if the prompt for the students is,"Abraham Lincoln is one of the best presidents America ever had.  Use text based evidence to support your answer."  the students will then find text-based evidence to support this, support the text-based evidence by saying, "This evidence shows President Lincoln was one of the best presidents because," and then make an inference or conclusion on this by answering, HOW or WHY.  i.e. How was president Lincoln an amazing president?  Rather than having just one sentence for elaboration, your students' elaboration will grow to 2-3 sentences.

Here is a more detailed picture of the process:

As you start the school year and begin having your students start writing, maybe this is something you will like to go over with your students before they begin.  For me, I always set the standard first, before I expect my students to complete something.  

If you would like this whole Google Slides Presentation, click on the link below:

Be sure to make yourself a copy!  I hope you find this helpful as you journey into a new year!

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