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Writing to a Prompt
using a 4-square Graphic
Organizer
DWA Preparation
What is writing to a prompt

A prompt is a topic you are
asked to write about.
4 types of Prompts




Narrative
Expository
Persuasive
Descriptive
Narrative Essay



A narrative tells a story. It could
be fiction or non-fiction. It
includes a beginning, middle,
and end.
Example: Write a story about a
time when you were sad.
Clue words – narrate, tell a story
about, write about a time, what
happened when
Expository Essay



Expository is another word for
explaining. In an expository
essay you may be asked to give
information about something.
You may be asked to explain
something.
Example: Tell me what your
favorite sport is and why.
Clue words: Explain, tell why,
talk about, write why.
Descriptive Essay



In a descriptive essay you
describe a thing, person, event
or place.
Example: Tell about a cold
winter day.
Clue words: describe, tell about
an object, what does it look and
feel like, write so your reader
can see, picture in your mind
Persuasive Essay



To persuade someone is to
convince them to agree with
you. Your job is decide your
point of view and write
arguments to persuade your
reader to share your view.
Example: Should limits be
placed on the amount of
television children are allowed to
watch?
Clue words: Should there be,
convince your reader, support
Deciding what kind of prompt

Everyone has a favorite
possession. Tell what your
favorite possession is and why
it’s important to you.
Expository!

Everyone has good days and
bad days. Write a story about
the best day you ever had.
Narrative

Imagine your family is planning a
trip. You can visit anywhere in the
world. Think of where you would
like to go, and why. Write an essay
that would convince your family to
go to the place you choose.
Persuasive

A person you know is planning to
move to your town. She has
written to you to ask you what it is
like. Write an essay describing
your town to her.
Descriptive

Your parents are trying to decide
whether to get a pet. Think if you
would like to have a pet, and if so
what pet you would like. Then
write an essay to persuade your
family to your opinion.
Persuasive

Think about your favorite food.
In an essay, give reasons for
liking this food best.
Expository
Make up a story about what is in a
basket.
Narrative
Write a letter to a friend telling
what you would pack for a picnic
and why.
Expository
Steps to writing to a prompt





Decide what kind of writing the
prompt is asking for
Plan your writing
Write first draft
Revise writing
Proofread
Why organize?

Makes your writing more
understandable

You won’t forget anything

Listen to two examples:
Using a 4-square to organize
an Expository Essay
Supporting Idea
Supporting Idea
Topic Sentence
Supporting Idea
Wrap up sentence
3 supporting ideas and a wrap up
sentence
Pretzels
Popcorn
Snacks
Peanuts
Pretzels, popcorn,
and peanuts are
snacks.
Your Turn
Sports Equipment
3 supporting ideas




Center of the box now has a
complete sentence
First three boxes must contain
reasons
Must prove the topic sentence
true
Must be real reasons
Easy to cook
Fun to eat
My favorite meal is spaghetti and
meatballs.
Delicious
My favorite meal is
spaghetti and
meatballs because
it’s easy to cook,
fun to eat, and
delicious.
Your Turn
My favorite sport is __________
Checklist


Are the four square reasons
quantifiable and not opinion?
Is there repetition of detail?
Adding supporting details

Our story so far would read as
follows:
My favorite meal is spaghetti and meatballs. My favorite
meal is spaghetti and meatballs because it’s easy. My
favorite meal is spaghetti and meatballs because it’s fun
to eat. My favorite meal is spaghetti because it’s
delicious. My favorite meal is spaghetti and meatballs
because it’s easy, fun to eat, and delicious.



We need to elaborate – add
details.
We will add 3 details to each
square.
These details will clarify or give
It’s easy
It’s fun to eat
•Roll up meat
•Twirl on fork
•Throw in pot
•Slurp it
•Pour store-bought
sauce
•Splatter the sauce
My favorite meal is spaghetti and
meatballs.
It’s delicious
•Tomatoes
•Italian spices
•Filling meat
My favorite meal is
spaghetti and
meatballs because
it’s easy to make,
fun to eat and
delicious.
Your Turn
Reason:
Detail
Reason:
Detail
Detail
Detail
Detail
Detail
My favorite sport is ___________
Reason:
Detail
Detail
Detail
Wrap up sentence
Checklist



Are the details logical
expansion of the reasons?
Are the details factual and free
of opinion?
Are there gross mechanical
problems in the wrap-up
sentence?
Using connecting words


Choose a connecting word and
put at the top of each square.
Use the handout to help you
choose appropriate connecting
words for each square.
First
Also
It’s easy
It’s fun to eat
•Roll up meat
•Twirl on fork
•Throw in pot
•Slurp it
•Pour store-bought sauce
•Splatter the sauce
My favorite meal is spaghetti and
meatballs.
Third
So you can see
It’s delicious
•Tomatoes
•Italian spices
•Filling meat
My favorite meal is spaghetti
and meatballs because it’s
easy to make, fun to eat and
delicious.
Your Turn
Connecting word
Connecting word
Reason:
Reason:
Detail
Detail
Detail
Detail
Detail
Detail
My favorite sport is ___________
Connecting word
Connecting word
Reason:
Detail
Detail
Detail
Wrap up sentence
Vivid language

What sounds better?
The water was cold.
 The water felt like ice.



Think of your senses – how
does it feel, taste, smell, look,
feel?
Add a vivid detail to each
supporting detail.
First
Also
It’s easy
•Roll up meat
It’s fun to eat
•Twirl on fork
•Golf balls
•Looks like a twister
•Throw in pot
•Slurp it
•Huge cauldron-size
•Pour store-bought sauce
•Loud smacking noises
•Splatter the sauce
•Like an explosion
•Prego
My favorite meal is spaghetti and
meatballs.
Third
It’s delicious
•Tomatoes
•Red and tangy
•Italian spices
•Zippy garlic
•Filling meat
•Like a hamburger
So you can see
My favorite meal is spaghetti
and meatballs because it’s
easy to make, fun to eat and
delicious.
Your turn
Connecting word
Reason:
Connecting word
Reason:
•Detail
•vivid
•Detail
•vivid
•Detail
•vivid
•Detail
•vivid
•Detail
•Vivid
•Detail
•vivid
My favorite sport is ___________
Connecting word
Reason:
•Detail
•vivid
•Detail
•Vivid
•Detail
•vivid
Connecting word
Wrap up sentence
Checklist



Do the added vivids add more
information to the details?
Have you used a thesaurus to
find the best possible word?
Have you checked your
punctuation? How about your
grammar?
Taking the writing off the organizer
2
3
1
4
5
My essay
My favorite meal is spaghetti and meatballs.
First, my favorite meal is spaghetti and meatballs
because it’s easy. You simply roll up the meat into golf-ball
sized pieces, then throw it in the pot. I use a huge, cauldronsize pot. Pour on the store-bought sauce. My favorite brand
is Prego.
Also, my favorite meal is spaghetti and meatballs
because it’s fun to eat. I like to twirl it on my fork. It looks like
a twister. It’s fun to slurp because it makes a loud smacking
noise. I always splatter the sauce. When I’m done, it looks
like an explosion.
Third, my favorite meal is spaghetti and meatballs
because it’s delicious. I like the tangy taste of red tomatoes.
The Italian spices are great, especially the zippy garlic. The
meat is very filling, like a hamburger.
So you can see, my favorite meal is spaghetti and
meatballs because it’s easy, fun to eat, and delicious.
Your turn





Read your 4-square to a partner
or in your peer editing group
Do the sentences flow well?
Have you used the right tense
throughout the essay?
Is your topic sentence clear?
How are your hook and
conclusion?
Improving the introduction

First paragraph
Hook
 Topic sentence
 Wrap up sentence
 Personal/reflective sentence


My favorite meal is spaghetti
and meatballs. It’s my favorite
because it’s easy to make, fun
to eat and delicious. I could eat
spaghetti and meatballs for
Improving the closing paragraph
 Final paragraph
Summarize main points and then
wrap-up sentence with connecting
word
 Personal / Reflective sentence,
question or exclamation


So you can see, my favorite
meal is spaghetti and meatballs
because it’s easy to make, fun
to eat and delicious. I am
making some tonight. Would
you like to come over for
dinner?
Your Turn

Write an intro and closing
paragraph.
Using the 4-square method to
write an essay

Expository
Gives information
 States reasons or examples
 Must have connecting words
 Few quotations


Narrative
Entertains
 Has events
 Connecting words as needed
 More dialogue

Friends
Games
Expository
The best day
of my life
Food
skydive
Narrative
Land safely
The best day
of my life
Meet the
president
Event
Event
Topic plus
Who?
What?
Event
Where?
When?
Why?
Big Ending
Time connector: In the beginning
Event: Cat food commercial came on
Time connector: During the
commercial
Event: My cat hissed
Details
Details
•Dancing cats
•Arched his back
•Top hats
•Angry
•Singing about food
•His hair stood up
•“meow-yum”
•Like a porcupine
•I said it was cute
•Loud scream
•laughed
When my cat started talking
Who? My cat and I
•
Ear
splitting
What? Relaxing
Where? At home
When? In the evening
Time connector: Just then
Why? It had been a long day
Event: He started talking
Details
•Called the commercial foolish
•Snarled
•Said the food was gross
•For dogs
•Told me never to buy it
•I thought it was his favorite.
Time connector: Since that day
Big ending:
•He has never spoken again
•I stopped buying that cat food.
•My cat has restrictions on his TV time.
Completed Narrative Essay
One evening I was relaxing at home. My cat and I were
watching television. It had been a long day, and I needed some time to
wind down.
In the beginning of our favorite show, a commercial came on
for a brand of cat food I usually buy. This commercial had adorable
little dancing cats. They were wearing black top hats. The cats were
also singing about the cat food. “Meow-yum, meow-yum,” they sang. I
thought it was cute, and I laughed out loud.
During this commercial my cat hissed, which is not
something he usually does. He arched his back and looked quite
angry. The hair on his back was standing up like porcupine quills. He
let out an ear-splitting scream.
Just then he started talking. He called the commercial foolish
and snarled at the television. My cat told me that brand of cat food was
gross, and it was only good for dogs, which means that it must be
pretty bad. Then he told me never to buy it again. I had always
thought he liked the stuff.
Since that day my cat has not spoken again. I did stop
buying that brand of cat food. But because of his ill-mannered hissing
and growling, my cat has had a limit placed on his television time.
Your turn
Prompt:
Think back to when you had a
happy experience. Remember
where you were and what
happened. Write a story about
that happy experience
Now complete the 4-square
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