How to Teach Informative Writing to Elementary Students

Informative writing gives student authors a way to teach others about a topic using writing.  This is such an important skill for students to have because this is the most common type of writing we use in our everyday lives.  An example of when we use this is when we send and respond to emails. Read below to learn more about this type of learning and how you can make it accessible to your students.


This Clutter-Free Classroom blog post suggests informative writing mini lesson ideas for 1st grade teachers to use when teaching a unit on informational writing. These elementary lessons are developmentally appropriate for first grade students and cover topics like writing an introduction, brainstorming ideas, transition words, writing conclusions, and using mentor texts. Read the post to learn more! #informativewriting #informationalwriting #explanatorywriting #elementarywritinglessons #firstgradeteacher #firstgradewriting

This blog post will...

  • define how informative and explanatory writing are similar and different.
  • explain why elementary teachers need to teach informative writing.
  • share what TEKS says kindergarten, first, second, third, fourth, and fifth grade students need to know and be able to do with regards to this type of writing.
  • cite what the Common Core standards says elementary students need to know and be able to do with regards to informational writing.
  • suggest mini lesson ideas for teaching it in your classroom.


What is Informative and Explanatory Writing? What is the Difference?
Informative writing and explanatory writing are both about the author sharing information with readers.  Informative writing provides facts and is meant to educate and inform readers. Explanatory writing, on the other hand, incorporates opinions into the writing and is meant to persuade the reader to think a certain way about a topic.

What is the Purpose of Informative Writing?
The purpose of teaching informative writing is to teach students how to write teaching books that empower them to teach others about topics they research and know a lot about. In the process of developing an informative writing text, students increase their knowledge about the topic they choose through research and they develop a non-fiction author’s voice.


What do my Students Need to be able to do in their Informative Writing?
Your elementary students are required to learn informative writing if your state uses the Common Core, a version of it, or TEKS.  Read below to learn what specific research standards your grade level covers.

Informative Writing Standards in Common Core

Kindergarten
ELA.W.K.2: Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose informative/explanatory texts in which they name what they are writing about and supply some information about the topic.

First Grade
ELA.W.1.2: Write informative/explanatory texts in which they name a topic, supply some facts about the topic, and provide some sense of closure.

Second Grade
ELA.W.2.2: Write informative/explanatory texts in which they introduce a topic, use facts and definitions to develop points, and provide a concluding statement or section.

Third Grade
ELA.W.3.2: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
ELA.W.3.2.A: Introduce a topic and group related information together; include illustrations when useful to aiding comprehension.
ELA.W.3.2.B: Develop the topic with facts, definitions, and details.
ELA.W.3.2.C: Use linking words and phrases (e.g., also, another, and, more, but) to connect ideas within categories of information.
ELA.W.3.2.D: Provide a concluding statement or section.

Fourth Grade
ELA.W.4.2: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
ELA.W.4.2.A: Introduce a topic clearly and group related information in paragraphs and sections; include formatting (e.g., headings), illustrations, and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
ELA.W.4.2.B: Develop the topic with facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples related to the topic.
ELA.W.4.2.C: Link ideas within categories of information using words and phrases (e.g., another, for example, also, because).
ELA.W.4.2.D: Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.
ELA.W.4.2.E: Provide a concluding statement or section related to the information or explanation presented.

Fifth Grade
ELA.W.5.2: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
ELA.W.5.2.A: Introduce a topic clearly, provide a general observation and focus, and group related information logically; include formatting (e.g., headings), illustrations, and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
ELA.W.5.2.B: Develop the topic with facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples related to the topic.
ELA.W.5.2.C: Link ideas within and across categories of information using words, phrases, and clauses (e.g., in contrast, especially).
ELA.W.5.2.D: Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.
ELA.W.5.2.E: Provide a concluding statement or section related to the information or explanation presented.


Informative Writing Standards in TEKS

Kindergarten
TEKS 8D: Recognize characteristics and structures of informational text, including: (i) the central idea and supporting evidence with adult assistance; (ii) titles and simple graphics to gain information; and (iii) the steps in a sequence with adult assistance.
TEKS 11B: Dictate or compose informational texts.

First Grade
TEKS 9D: Recognize characteristics and structures of informational text, including: (i) the central idea and supporting evidence with adult assistance; (ii) features and simple graphics to locate or gain information; and (iii) organizational patterns such as chronological order and description with adult assistance.
TEKS 12B: Dictate or compose informational texts, including procedural texts.

Second Grade
TEKS 9D: Recognize characteristics and structures of informational text, including: (i) the central idea and supporting evidence with adult assistance; (ii) features and graphics to locate and gain information; and (iii) organizational patterns such as chronological order and cause and effect stated explicitly.
TEKS 12B: Compose informational texts, including procedural texts and reports.

Third Grade
TEKS 9D: Recognize characteristics and structures of informational text, including: (i) the central idea with supporting evidence; (ii) features such as sections, tables, graphs, timelines, bullets, numbers, and bold and italicized font to support understanding; and (iii) organizational patterns such as cause and effect and problem and solution.
TEKS 12B: Compose informational texts, including brief compositions that convey information about a topic, using a clear central idea and genre characteristics and craft.

Fourth Grade
TEKS 9D: Recognize characteristics and structures of informational text, including: (i) the central idea with supporting evidence; (ii) features such as pronunciation guides and diagrams to support understanding; and (iii) organizational patterns such as compare and contrast.
TEKS 12B: Compose informational texts, including brief compositions that convey information about a topic, using a clear central idea and genre characteristics and craft.

Fifth Grade
TEKS 9D: Recognize characteristics and structures of informational text, including: (i) the central idea with supporting evidence; (ii) features such as insets, timelines, and sidebars to support understanding; and (iii) organizational patterns such as logical order and order of importance.
TEKS 12B: Compose informational texts, including brief compositions that convey information about a topic, using a clear central idea and genre characteristics and craft.


15 Informative Writing Mini Lesson Ideas
  • Defining informative writing
  • Writing like an informational writer
  • Differentiating between facts and opinions
  • Selecting a topic
  • Defining the research process
  • Finding and evaluating sources
  • Citing sources
  • Taking notes (using graphic organizers)
  • Paraphrasing information
  • Summarizing information
  • Organizing information
  • Writing a lead
  • Writing the body of the writing
  • Writing a conclusion
  • Strengthening writing
These resources might be helpful:

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