Empowering Writers

Expository Research Essay Project – Day TWO- Writing the Riddle

Expository Research Essay Project Day 2 image

Now your students should be finished with their research and have an abundance of information gathered about their animal.  Not all of this information will be showcased in the riddle activity but used later in the expository essay that we write.

Something I have noticed over the years in teaching writing is that many students have high anxiety levels when it comes time to actually write. Before Empowering Writers,  I would just give a prompt, do a little overview, and have students begin to write. What I saw was that even my highest writers struggled to start their piece.  I soon began to see why setting an example and giving the expectations of the finished product is so important to the success of our students. Now, I always model and show students a completed example so that they know exactly what I want to see when they are finished.  I notice that my students are now able to release some of those unnecessary jitters before we even begin.

So for this assignment, I started the day by letting the students work through riddles that are already completed. I had the riddle sets copied, cut out, and waiting for students to sort and match as bell work when they came in (these are included as a PDF in the lesson of the month.) I encourage you to direct students to read the cards out loud one at a time.  The purpose of this activity is not to see if the students can read and infer which animal is being described, even though this is a  great way to practice inferencing and using their reading skills but to hear the language and context in which the riddles are written.  Without direction, students will just divide the cards among the group and quickly work to solve the riddles, overlooking the importance of listening to the author’s craft and style being used. Watch the video below for a quick example of this…

Once students were finished reading and matching the riddles to their animal, we talked about some of the important components of the riddle hints.  Remember,  students are not going to write every piece of information that they learned into a riddle clue.  Here is the poster we made to use as a guideline for clues.

My students (6th grade) included 5-10 of these into clues for their riddle. (depending on their ability level) Adjust this for the age and ability of students in your classroom. Remind students that the rest of their information will be included later in the week, in the Arctic Animal Expository Essay. Be sure to utilize my riddle clue sentence starters that are also available in the lesson.  If you have not downloaded the 5-8 grade January 2019 lesson of the month do that here!  Before students started writing their own riddle, I let them keep one of the riddles by them as a guide for when they began to put their information into clues.

When we were finished, I hung them all up in the hall for all students (and some teachers:) ) to read and enjoy.  As you can see they have been well used!

Expository Research Essay Project Day 2 image







Please email me if you have any questions as your students begin their writing piece.



January 2019