The Ultimate Middle Years Blog Hop and Giveaway!

Innovative Connections

Go back to school fully stashed!! From August 25th through August 27th, we’re celebrating those years who often get lost in the shuffle…the middle guys…with a fabulous Blog Hop and Giveaway! With over $300 in prizes, you don’t want to miss this one.  Basically, over 20 upper elementary and middle school teacher/authors have gotten together to give stuff away and share ideas.  Enjoy the “hop”!

Of course, if you have never heard of Secondary Solutions, please be sure to FOLLOW us on Facebook, check out our main site, hop into our TPT store, or all of the above!

I would like to introduce Tammy Aiello of Teaching FSL, a middle/high school teacher blog! Madame Aiello teaches French as a Second Language but posts about motivating students, attending field trips, the editing process, incorporating technology in the classroom, and lots of general teaching topics as well.  Be sure to hop on over and say hello…she’s your next stop in the Blog Hop Challenge!

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Writing Informative/Explanatory Essays

Writing Informative/Explanatory Essays

Writing Informative/Explanatory Essays by Secondary Solutions

The following comes from our revised Essay Architect Writing System. Be sure to check it out!

Informative/Explanatory Essays

An Informative/Explanatory essay teaches or informs your reader about a subject. This type of essay can explain how something works, how to perform a task, the steps in a procedure, or why something is the way it is.  Ultimately, the reader should have a better understanding of the subject after reading your paper.

Key Prompt Words: explain, explore, show, detail, define, demonstrate, tell why, talk about, write why


  • To explain, inform, teach, or clarify a topic to the reader

Important Aspects

  • Audience
    • Assume that the reader knows nothing about this topic, but don’t detail every single step in such minute detail that you bore your reader.
    • Task
      • Be sure you are clear about your goal for your essay; are you
        • identifying the parts of an object?
        • communicating the steps of a process?
        • explaining the characteristics of something?

To set up an Informative/Explanatory Essay, consider the following outlines:

  1. Introduction
  2. Part #1
  3. Part #2
  4. Part #3
  5. Conclusion
  1. Introduction
  2. Step #1
  3. Step #2
  4. Step #3
  5. Conclusion
  1. Introduction
  2. Characteristic #1
  3. Characteristic #2
  4. Characteristic #3
  5. Conclusion

Organizing Informative/Explanatory Essays

Informative/Explanatory Writing:

  1. Teaches the reader something new, or gives the reader a new way of looking at a subject
  2. Can explain how something works, how to perform a task, the steps in a procedure, or why something is the way it is.

Goal of Informative/Explanatory Writing:

To examine or clarify a subject by teaching about or informing the reader of the parts, processes, or steps of a subject.

Most Important Aspects of Informative/Explanatory Writing:

  • Must strive to teach the reader something new in an interesting and well-defined manner
  • Must be able to clearly delineate the steps of the task or process, or
  • Must show a clear definition of and distinction between the parts of a subject

Beyond the Obvious

  • It is important that you go beyond the obvious to teach your reader something new, HOWEVER, you must not skip or gloss over important steps of a process—even if you think it is easy or it is obvious to you!

Example of Informative/Explanatory Prompt:

Detail the steps you would need to take in planning a great birthday party for one of your friends.

Informative/Explanatory Thesis

Remember that in an Informative/Explanatory essay, you are explaining or teaching something to your audience.  For Informative/Explanatory thesis statements, be sure to tell your audience what you are going to explain to them.

For Example:

            Topic: How to make homemade ice cream.

Informative/Explanatory Thesis:  Homemade ice cream is a delicious and refreshing treat that can be made in just a few simple steps.

Let’s test this thesis.

  1. Does this thesis offer a position or opinion?

The opinion that homemade ice cream is “delicious and refreshing” and can be made with just a few “simple” steps can be argued.  Your reader may not know how easy it is, and will read the essay to see just how “simple” it is to make homemade ice cream.  This positive opinion draws the reader in, as he/she wants to learn about this easy process.

  1. Is the topic of the essay mentioned?

It is important to remember that the goal is to explain how to do something, and the thesis mentions that the reader will learn how to make ice cream.

Of course, you know that this thesis is just a simple thesis.  If we want to write a “better” thesis statement, our thesis statement might look something like this:

With just a simple homemade ice cream machine, a few ingredients, and some patience, making delicious and refreshing homemade ice cream is a snap.

Some effective bridges, or transition words, to use when writing an Informative/Explanatory essay are those that indicate a succession or process:

as soon as
at least
at the same time
at the time
before long
for example
for instance
in fact
in support of this

Please note: This material is Copyright 2012 Secondary Solutions.  No part of this article/post may be reproduced, transmitted, translated or stored, in any form, including digitally or electronically, without the express written permission of Secondary Solutions.

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Our REVISED Essay Architect is HERE at a Special Introductory Price!

Do your students struggle to get past one or two paragraphs for an essay?  Are your students confused about the different types of essays and how to approach each?  Do you have students who don’t know basic essay terminology or structure?  Do you dread the thought of grading your students essays, facing constant frustration and exhaustion?   If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then our REVISED Essay Architect Writing System is right for you!

You thought the first one was good….wait until you see this one!  With over 250 pages of new and revised materials, we’ve listened to your suggestions, keeping the things you love, and adding the things you’ve asked for!

Our REVISED Essay Architect Writing System  is an all-inclusive, step-by-step method you can use to walk your students through the often confusing process of writing the five paragraph essay.  Includes 238 pages of reproducible worksheets, examples, teaching guides, graphic organizers, terminology, models, rubrics, sample essays, and more.  This second book in our Essay Writing Series best helps those students who are able to write at least one paragraph in response to an essay prompt.  (For those who struggle with one paragraph, or with basic sentence and writing structure, see the first book in this series, the Essay Apprentice Writing System).

Designed for use in grades 6-12, Essay Architect will help you teach everything your students need to know about writing a great essay, from the essential structure and vocabulary of the essay, to in depth practice on the elements of the essay, to reviewing and peer-editing model and non-model essays, to learning the specifics of how to write and organize each type of essay, to polishing the essay in its final stages.  Students have the opportunity to learn and practice every step of the process before actually writing an essay, and learn how to evaluate and assess other essays to recognize high-quality, well-written essays, as well as poorly-written, weak writing. Best of all, we have included in-depth study of each type of essay, including essay-specific organizers, prompts, notes, peer-editing checklists, and rubrics for Persuasive/Argumentative essays, Cause and Effect essays, Compare and Contrast Essays, Descriptive Essays, Informative/Explanatory Essays, Reflective/Personal Narrative Essays, Response to Literature Essays, and Research Papers.

This REVISED Essay Architect Writing System includes 253 pages (that’s 150 more pages than the FIRST EDITION!) of new and revised material, including:

  • Essay Writing Terms
  • General Essay Structure
  • Quiz: Essay Terminology and Structure
  • Types of Essays
  • Reading an Essay Prompt
  • Essay Prompt Keywords
  • Classifying Essay Prompts
  • Brainstorming Your Topic
    • Mind Map Brainstorm
    • Spider Diagram Brainstorm
    • “E” Chart Brainstorm
    • “Big Six” Questions
  • General Pre-Writing Essay Planner A
  • General Pre-Writing Essay Planner B
  • General Pre-Writing Essay Planner C
  • General Essay Organizer
  • General Essay Style Guide
  • General Essay Rubric
  • Writing Effective Titles
  • Writing Grabbers
  • Writing Focus Statements
  • Recognizing Thesis Statements
  • Types of Thesis Statements
  • Writing “Better” Thesis Statements
  • Writing Topic Sentences
  • Writing Powerful Challenges
  • Using Appropriate Tone
  • Writing With Purpose
  • Activity in which students literally cut and paste either a scrambled Informative/Explanatory Essay essay or a Compare/Contrast Essay together, based upon the information and skills they have learned.
  • Notes, handouts, and activities on every type of essay:
    • Argumentative Essays
      • Organizing Argumentative Essays
      • Logic and Emotion in Persuasive Writing
      • Practicing the Skill: Logic and Emotion in Persuasive Writing
      • What Will the Opposition Say?
      • Argumentative Essay Organizer Prompt
      • Argumentative Essay Organizer
      • Argumentative Essay Structure
      • Argumentative Essay Peer Editing Checklist
      • Argumentative Essay Rubric
    • Cause and Effect Essays
      • Organizing Cause/Effect Essays
      • Fishbone Diagram
      • Cause and Effect Essay Organizer Prompt
      • Cause and Effect Essay Organizer
      • Cause/Effect Essay Structure
      • Cause and Effect Essay Peer Editing Checklist
      • Cause and Effect Essay Rubric
    • Compare and Contrast Essays
      • Organizing Compare/Contrast Essays
      • Verbal Cues: The Keys to the Compare/Contrast Essay
      • Compare and Contrast Essay Prompt
      • Compare and Contrast Essay Organizer
      • Compare/Contrast Essay Structure
      • Compare and Contrast Essay Peer Editing Checklist
      • Compare and Contrast Essay Rubric
    • Descriptive Essays
      • Organizing Descriptive Essays
      • Show, Don’t Tell!
      • Powerful Verbs
      • Descriptive Essay Organizer Prompt
      • Descriptive Essay Organizer
      • Descriptive Essay Structure
      • Descriptive Essay Peer Editing Checklist
      • Descriptive Essay Rubric
    • Informative/Explanatory Essays
      • Organizing Informative/Explanatory Essays
      • Informative/Explanatory Essay Organizer Prompt
      • Informative/Explanatory Essay Organizer
      • Informative/Explanatory Essay Structure
      • Informative/Explanatory Essay Peer Editing Checklist
      • Informative/Explanatory Essay Rubric
    • Reflective/Narrative Essays
      • Organizing Reflective/Narrative Essays
      • Reflective/Narrative Essay Organizer Prompt
      • Reflective/Narrative Essay Organizer
      • Reflective/Narrative Essay Structure
      • Reflective/Narrative Essay Peer Editing Checklist
      • Reflective/Narrative Essay Rubric
    • Response to Literature Essays
      • Organizing Response to Literature Essays
      • Literary Terms to Know
      • Finding Supporting Quotations
      • Incorporating Quotations into a Response to Literature Essay
      • Response to Literature General Essay Organizer Prompt
      • Response to Literature Organizer with Quotes Prompt
      • Response to Literature General Essay Organizer
      • Response to Literature Organizer with Quotes
      • Response to Literature Essay Structure
      • Response to Literature Peer Editing Rubric
      • Response to Literature Essay Rubric
  • Teaching Research Papers
    • Writing Research Papers
      • Researching the “Old Fashioned” Way
      • Researching in the Modern World
      • Evaluating Internet Sources
      • Plagiarism
      • Plagiarism WebQuest
      • Incorporating Support into a Research Paper
      • MLA Format and Style
      • Print Publications – MLA Format
      • Web Publications – MLA Format
      • Using “Research Notes” Pages
      • Using “Sources” Pages
      • Research Notes
      • Sources
      • Research Paper Organizer Prompt
      • Research Paper Organizer
      • Research Paper Peer Editing Checklist
      • Research Paper Rubric
  • 22 Model and Non-Model Essay to Evaluate and Edit, including 5 Argumentative, 2 Cause/Effect, 2 Compare/Contrast, 2 Descriptive, 5 Informative/Explanatory, 3 Reflective/Narrative, and 3 Response to Literature
  • 515 of the Most Frequently Misspelled Words
  • Commonly Confused Words
  • Words to Avoid
  • Vivid Word Choice
  • Over 1500 More Powerful Verbs
  • Building Bridges
  • Over 400 Essay Topic Ideas
  • Answer Key

Click here to VIEW over 100 sample pages of this Essay Architect Writing Guide

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40 Things You Must Have in Your School Survival Kit!

Are you ready to survive the school year?  Compiled by a bunch of veteran teachers, here’s a list of items you should not start school without!

Here’s our Practical Teacher Survival Kit…the first 30 were featured last year…check out the list for new additions!

  1. Some kind of crate or storage box to keep everything in
  2. Advil or other headache medicine
  3. Ice Pack (so kids don’t have to leave your class to go to the office)
  4. Band-Aids (for the same reason)
  5. Throat Lozenges (remember, you talk a lot throughout the day and those kids are germ-mongers)
  6. Tampons (for you and students)
  7. Deodorant (it’s not just the kids who can get “funky”)
  8. Hair bands or hair clip
  9. Chocolate (need I say more?)
  10. A lightweight sweater (for those times when you can’t control the A/C)
  11. Safety pins (in case of wardrobe malfunction)
  12. Gas-X (for “those” times)
  13. Chewable Pepto-Bismol
  14. Tums
  15. Flashlight (emergencies)
  16. Screwdriver (the kind that can be switched from phillips to flat-head)
  17. Box of Kleenex
  18. Jar of coins (for those days when you or a student forgets lunch or lunch money)
  19. Granola bars
  20. Hand sanitizer (keep out of view of students, unless you are willing to share)
  21. Water
  22. Hand lotion
  23. Brush and hairspray
  24. Latex gloves (for taking care of student emergencies)
  25. Blister band-aids or moleskin
  26. Mouthwash, Listerine strips, or Altoids
  27. Chapstick or other lip stuff (I like Burt’s Bees)
  28. Travel toothbrush and toothpaste
  29. Candy, stickers (for primary), homework passes or other reward for students who surprise you by being/doing something great!
  30. A binder or file full of filler activities (for those times when you are caught off-guard with an extra five minutes in class)
  31. Floss or individual flossers
  32. Toothpicks
  33. Microwave popcorn (a great snack when you can’t leave your desk for lunch)
  34. Tea (Green tea is good for the soul, and apparently helps curb hunger)
  35. Cup a Soup…good for when you forget your lunch, or when a student does
  36. Glitter Germ-X! Have everyone, including the teacher, shake hands with everyone. Notice how the “germs” spread!
  37. Fresh fruit or veggies (of course, they perish, so don’t keep them forever ;))
  38. Dried fruit (an alternative to the fresh version)
  39. Disposable heat compress for a sore back or neck (i.e. Thermacare Wraps)
  40. A few $15 Starbucks gift cards (for when you forget a colleague’s birthday)

Have other ideas? Let’s keep on adding!  I would love to hear your recommendations.

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It’s the Back to School Stock-up Sale on TPT

Don’t miss this amazing sale at!  You can save 28% on everything in our store August 12-13 with coupon code BTS12! Happy Shopping!


*Thanks to Tracee Orman for the image!

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