Writing to Inform/Explain/Describe

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Imagine this scenario: You feel ill and go to see a
doctor. Which of the following is informing,
explaining or describing?
•Describing - telling the doctor how you feel.
•Informing - the doctor gives you the facts.
•Explaining - the doctor explains what a cold is and tells you more about it.
Writing to
Inform/Explain/Describe
Q5 – Shorter writing task
Lesson Objectives
• To be prepared for what is required in the
shorter writing task, in section B of the exam.
• To be able to adapt your writing for different
purposes: inform; explain; describe.
The Shorter Writing Task
– 16marks
In Q5 you will be asked to write to:
1. To inform – telling the reader about something or someone.
This involves putting information across clearly.
2.
To explain – giving the answers to the questions ‘how?’ and
‘why?’ about something. This helps the reader to
understand an idea, a point of view or a situation.
3.
To describe – painting a picture with words. This means
putting across in an imaginative way what something or
someone is like.
The Mark Scheme
Communication and
Organisation
•
•
•
•
Band 4 =
Band 3 =
Band 2 =
Band 1 =
8-10 marks
5-7 marks
3-4 marks
1-2 marks
Accuracy
• Band 3 = 5-6 marks
• Band 2 = 3-4 marks
• Band 1 = 1-2 marks
Balance
Evaluation
Information is factual
Straightforward
language to convey
essential information
‘What’, ‘who’, ‘where’
‘when’, ‘how’
Details about a topic
for the non-expert
Explanation is factual,
but with more detail
Explain is to make
clear, show the
meaning or to account
for
‘how’ and ‘why’
Describe
Information about a
topic
Explain
Inform
Purpose
Detail
Camera lenses and
zoom
Imagery
Not a story
Description is usually
about how something
makes you feel
Writing to inform
• When writing to inform, make sure language is
clear, factual and impersonal. Use short and
clear sentences.
• You could break up the writing with
subheadings (if appropriate to Format!)
A Simple Example of Writing to Inform:
Chocolate chip cookies recipe
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Heat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6. Line two baking sheets with baking
parchment. Chop the chocolate into chunks and put to one side.
Heat the butter in a small saucepan gently until it has melted.
Meanwhile, put the two types of sugar into a mixing bowl. Pour the
melted butter on top of the sugar and beat well with a wooden spoon.
Add the egg and the vanilla and beat until well blended.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into the mixing bowl and stir them
in, then add the chopped chocolate.
Dot heaped pudding spoonfuls of the mixture over the lined baking
sheets.
Wearing oven gloves, put the baking sheets in the oven and bake for 810 minutes, until the cookies are just turning golden brown.
Leave them to harden for a couple of minutes before eating.
Even though you are just ‘informing’, you
must still try to engage the reader...
The road to Dubai is long, straight, dusty, littered
with wrecked cars and punctuated only by the odd
windswept gas station. There are no villages, no
oases, and the Gulf is hidden behind sand-dunes
which look as if they are suffering from some sort
of desert scurf or mange. It is the kind of road on
which car crashes look like philanthropic
gestures; they at any rate do something to provide
a momentary relief in that monotony of sand and
rusted oil drums.
Techniques used in Writing to Inform
• Factual
• Present tense
• Short, clear sentences – although all writing
should have a variety of sentence structures
• Connectives
• Technical terms
• Reader addressed as 'you‘
• Objective
REMEMBER:
• Adapt language to suit AUDIENCE
• Set out writing in accordance with FORMAT
Explanation is different to straightforward
information.
WRITING TO EXPLAIN REQUIRES:
• A response that answers the precise demands
of the question.
• Content that focuses on HOW or WHY
something happens – rather than just what
happens
• Appropriate language
Explanation is different to straightforward
information.
• As a writer you must
give reasons.
• You must say why or
how something
happens
• You must comment and
explain ideas
throughout your
writing.
Be warned:
• Students loose grades
by just informing NOT
explaining.
• Don’t loose focus and
just inform your reader
with out explaining
ideas.
Exam question: Think about the
focus of the title
Most people have memories about a
particular holiday or trip. Choose
one that you have experienced and
explain why it was so memorable.
Most people have memories about a particular holiday or trip.
Choose one that you have experienced and explain why it was
so memorable.
YOU SHOULD:
• decide what makes that one
trip special and say why
• select memorable features
and say why they are
memorable
YOU ARE NOT:
• being asked to write
about trips in general
• describe what actually
happened on one trip
• write about the place
that you visited
A* answer =
• Explanation must be
clear so reader
understands
• Examiners give marks
for varied sentences –
so show your skills
• Use phrases to do with
cause and effect:
As a result of this
This meant that
This is because
The reason for this is
As a consequence
Therefore..
Can you think of any more?
Practise a possible exam
response to this question:
Explain how you have dealt with difficult
situations that have arisen in your life. You might
wish to write about:
•Relationships with parents
•Friends and their expectations
•Problems at school
•Other difficult situation that you have
encountered
Explain how you have dealt with difficult
situations that have arisen in your life.
• There is no specific audience identified and so
you must stick to formal, Standard English.
• Remember – this is the shorter writing task
and you will only have about 25mins, so it
does not need to be lengthy; 2 or 3 detailed
paragraphs should do.
• Explain ‘how’ you have dealt with a situation,
don’t just inform what happened!
Writing to describe…
• a place
• an event
• a memory
• a person
Writing to describe
• there is more to description than recording
the visible.
• organisation is as important in description as
expression
• contrast helps structure and language detail
• objects are more interesting when they stand
for something else
Writing to Describe
• Effective writing
makes you feel almost
as if you're 'there'
N.B.
You are writing to
describe; you are not
telling a story.
Get the
grade
Writing to describe (places)
Strategy - the zoom lens
1 From a distance, the place looks like….
2 As you get nearer, you begin to notice…
3 Close up, you realise that...
Writing to describe (places)
Strategy : contrast:
1 Unlike Rome/New York/Barcelona, X
is…
2 Like these places,….
3 Unlike these places...
How to approach your description
• What does it look like?
• What does it sound
like?
• What does it feel like?
• What does it taste like?
• What does it smell like?
Use Language Devices...
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Similes
Metaphors
Personification
Alliteration
Imagery
Repetition for effect
Onomatopoeia
Have a go at creating similes and
metaphors to describe the scene...
Read the descriptive extract by Dylan
Thomas...
• Identify any interesting vocabulary or
language devices (similes, metaphors etc) that
he uses.
• Annotate the text by underlining and
labelling/making notes.
Practise time...
• Have a go at responding to the following
question, you can use some of the similes and
metaphors that you have created.
• You could use one of the strategies:
contrasting or zooming.
• You will not have long in the exam – so you
only have 20mins now!
• Describe a beach that you
have visited.
4
WRITING WITH POWER
Be clear about punctuation:

Full stops to signal the end of a sentence

Commas to separate items in a list or create
islands of words

Dashes – in pairs – to create emphasis

Colons: signal something to follow

Semi-colons allow you to link related ideas;
they add balance to a sentence
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