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Using Descriptive Writing in your Class

Descriptive writing is the essence of students expressing vivid details through the writing process. This type of specific writing is imperative to creating writers because it allows students to express themselves. This writing goes outside the bounds of just assigning a topic and writing an essay. Descriptive writing enhances creativity, engagement, and enjoyment for the writer and the reader.

What is Descriptive Writing?

Descriptive writing gives the reader the sense they can visualize what the writer is writing about. Students “show and not tell” in their writing. Writers close their eyes and envision what they hear, smell, see, feel, and taste. They use sensory details using the five senses to help write the description. Teachers encourage students to take a mental snapshot of what they are describing.

Students need a topic or main idea to focus on throughout the descriptive writing. The student writes about one topic, and this will become the thesis statement. It is important to ask yourself what you are trying to say about the topic throughout this writing process. Then, add supporting details using your senses for what you hear, see, smell, feel, and taste.

When writing the supporting details, students must be specific and include descriptive phrases. This is also a exceptional way for students to demonstrate their creativity and make it more interesting. Using details provides a more accurate picture of what they are writing about.

When writing descriptively, avoid redundancy and describe details with similes and metaphors. Students avoid simple statements such as. “The lady is bored.” Describe without telling and let the reader know what makes the lady bored and how you know that. It is important to pick out a few details and elaborate on them. Use vivid adjectives and details to show the effect of what you are trying to describe. Another exceptional tip is to emphasize unnoticed items in the description.

What are the Benefits of Descriptive Writing?

There are a multitude of benefits of utilizing descriptive writing. This type of writing allows teachers and students to be creative. It enhances and promotes language, new vocabulary, and encourages students to learn about things they are unfamiliar with. It allows students to think outside of the box and expand on their thoughts.

Descriptive writing allows students autonomy in what they choose to write about. Students may want to write more if they are given freedom and possess a different energy. They are driven by an inner goal and have more joy regarding the assignment. This is intrinsic motivation, and they have a degree of control over what they are learning. Providing this opportunity also increases the possibility for other higher-level thinking skills such as conducting research.

This type of writing also enhances organization and clarifies understanding. The writing becomes so descriptive that the readers can see it in their minds. They utilize a specific writing process, and then let their creativity flow. Motivating students to explore more deeply is thought provoking. It is amazing to see what students can do when given the opportunity.

Ways to Use Descriptive Writing in Your Class

Teachers should provide regular and varied opportunities for students to use descriptive writing in their classrooms. Students may choose a topic that they know a little about but need to research further. The beauty of descriptive writing is that there is not one right way to do it.

A general idea for utilizing descriptive writing is providing topics in a writing jar. This could be a mason jar with popsicle sticks in it and have various topics written on them. Students would randomly choose a topic. This idea enhances their ability to stretch and learn about new topics.

Another example includes students bringing in a picture of their favorite vacation spot or favorite pastime (e.g. fishing) and allow them to describe the destinations to their audience.  Engagement is extremely high in these assignments because students are writing about something they love and enjoy. Teachers can also incorporate contests with the writing and display students’ work on a Writing Wall in a museum-type setting.

Writing can be incorporated into many subject areas. Examples of this include writing details of how students conducted a science experiment or writing about a famous historical figure. These are exceptional ways to get students interested, and they learn so many facts because they are encompassing many skills in the process.


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