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
Prompt: All animals have adaptations that help them to survive. These adaptations have occurred over years and years of evolution and let animals thrive in different environments. The tundra is a cold, harsh climate to live in. Describe an animal that is adapted to survive in the tundra. Be sure to give examples describing what makes the animal able to live in this environment.
Example - A Desert Traveler
The camel is an intriguing kind of animal - unlike anything that lives in North America. The camel is an animal that eats plants and lives in the desert. Camels are mammals and mainly survive by eating plants and other vegetation. Camels have many adaptations that help them to live in the desert. Because of these features, many people use camels to get around the desert safely over long distances. Camels are the ultimate "desert travelers" because of their nutritional, facial, and transportation features.
Camels have many different adaptations that allow them to not only live, but thrive in the desert. An adaptation is something that has evolved in an animal to help it survive. Adaptations help animals live in their specific climates. Because the desert is very dry, there is not much water or food. Camels eat many plants that live in the desert, like grasses and leaves. This helps them to survive by giving them the energy they need to move and work. Similarly, camels can survive for a long time without water. They can go over a week without water, which helps them live in a place without a lot of water to drink. When camels do drink water, they consume many gallons at one time so they can survive for a week without this important resource.
Another way camels are adapted to live in the desert is because of specific features on their faces. Deserts have a lot of sand, and wind can blow that sand into the eyes of people and animals. Camels have long eyelashes that help keep the sand out of their eyes. Having long eyelashes helps camels see and prevents them from getting lost during dangerous sandstorms. Their nostrils also open and close, so they do not have to breathe in sand. These facial features let camels survive in harsh desert conditions, making them a great choice for transportation in this difficult part of the world.
Because of the adaptations mentioned before, many people have used camels to get around the desert for thousands of years. Similarly, camels have wide, huge feet that stop them from sinking in the sand. The desert is covered in sand, so having feet that can cross the desert without trouble is a very important feature in transportation. And indeed, for many hundreds of years, travelers across deserts have used camels because their adaptations let camels live and move successfully in this type of harsh climate.
Why are camels good desert travelers? They have many adaptations that allow them to live in the desert. They can survive for a long time without water, and have features on their faces that protect them from sand. Similarly, camels have wide, big feet that make them the great desert travelers. Adaptations have made camels the perfect animals to get around the dry, hot desert! Thousands of years ago, when travelers did not have technology like cars or airplanes to take them over long distances quickly, camels were hardy enough to make the long, dry trips. It makes sense that they were used to transport people and goods across places like the Sahara Desert. Even today, camels remain an important asset to people who need to move themselves or their belongings in one of the world's harshest climates.