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Support and Elaboration in Writing

By - Rebecca Columbo

Language Arts Grades 6-10


The students will write paragraphs containing well-developed supports that clearly illustrate a character trait.


  • index cards;
  • visual reference — overhead projector, dry erase board or handout reference sheet;
  • four stacks of laminated cards — 20 of each variety: o character traits, o silly character cards, o problem cards, and o setting cards; and
  • sample paragraphs from students’ previous writings.


Laminated cards: o The character trait cards should display the character trait to be discussed as well as a simple definition of the trait. o The character cards should each have a picture of a fictitious character: i.e., superman, Scooby-doo, etc. o The problem cards should have a picture of something that could be the source of an external conflict: i.e., quicksand, Tyrannosaurus rex, etc. o The setting cards should each depict a fun, exciting, or imaginative location.


  • Read two to three samples of student writing that clearly show inadequate elaboration. Brainstorm with the students the details that could have made the supports more complete.
  • List the words: “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” “why,” and “how” on the board or projector as a visual reference. Instruct the students to use these words as a checklist to be sure that they have provided the necessary information to their readers.
  • Pick one card from each pile of cards. Create a silly story to model for the students; show your selected character trait in the chosen setting and in the given situation.
  • Divide the students into groups of two or three. Have each group choose a card from each pile. As a group, they should write a detailed paragraph on an index card that illustrates their character trait.
  • When the students are finished, collect the cards and read each as a story to the class. Have the class look for weaknesses such as missing information and inadequate support for the trait given.
  • Continue this process until the students are able to write well-developed supports for a given trait.

Suggestion for Assessment:

  • Have the students return to their own desk.
  • Write the following words across the board. Under each word, write five options.
“Character Trait,” “Character,” “Problem,” “Setting”
  • Instruct the students to work individually to write a well-developed paragraph on their index card that clearly supports their character trait. They can choose traits, characters, problems, and settings from those chosen on the board.

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