Descriptive Essay Writing

• You will be given a prompt on the day of the exam. Every 8th grader in
the state of Nebraska (about 24,000 students) writes about the same topic.
You will be asked to DESCRIBE a person, place, or thing.
• The results will be available at the end of the school year and will be sent
home to parents/guardians and printed in the newspaper. IT IS
• This work will also count for several summative grades and will help
prepare you for your writing graduation demonstrations in high school.
• Good writers use description to create pictures for the readers to make the
characters and action come alive.
Take a minute to write down what are the most important
characteristics of an essay, or brainstorm as a class. (Think about the
practices you've done and feedback you've received on other essays.)
As we go through the characteristics, write them down in your notebook
so you can refer to them when you need to.
Warm-up: January 8
Using your quickwrite from yesterdayadd details to the following senses:
•This is simply what descriptive writing
is… creating mental images/pictures
about a topic so the reader understands
its importance to you
topic will help show your voice and
•Uses sensory details as appropriate (see, touch, taste, hear, smell)
•Reflects the writer’s mood or feeling about the object/person/place
being described (fluffy scrambled eggs or mangled chicken embryos)
•Requires the writer to closely study and/or observe what is being
described (binoculars)
•Includes a strong lead, descriptive body, and clincher conclusion
•Provides transition words and phrases to guide the reader (turn signal)
•Creates a picture in reader’s mind through relevant precise details and
careful word choice (clear enough I could diffuse a bomb)
• Represents the writer’s personality, feelings, and style in how and
what he/she chooses to describe
Descriptive Essay
Brainstorming Organizer
Warm-up: January 9
Using your quickwrite from this week,
develop a thesis statement that includes
your 3 details into one sentence.
1. A where and when lead…
During the summer after fourth grade, I traveled to the most exciting place
I've ever been.
2. Opinion or thought lead...
My perfect place is not just some ordinary spot. Instead, it is a place that
casts memories each and every day all year long.
Many places are interesting to me. I could choose a place in an exotic
location or somewhere people dream of going, but my special place is closer to
3. Short list...
Sweat on my brow. A layer of dust on my face. Feet galloping beneath me.
The most exciting place for me is on my horse.
Do NOT start with a QUESTION. For this essay,
questions are not an appropriate lead.
What is needed?
lead: A way to catch your reader's
attention that smoothly connects to the next sentences.
or three basic things to know about your topic
AND why it is important
statement: Explain what three things you will be
writing about (sights, sounds, etc.).
Introduction #1
• My backyard is a cool place to be. It's
close to birds and stuff, but I don't have to
worry about being eaten by a bear. I can
be solo, but know there are people close. I
can't think without being disturbed. I relax
and chill out after a hard day. It's really a
great place to be. I love spending time in
my backyard because it’s real cool.
My backyard is my favorite place to be.
It's close to nature, but I don't have to worry
about being eaten by a bear. I can be alone,
but know there are people nearby. I can't
think without being disturbed. I relax and
unwind after a hard, long day. It's really a
great place to be. I love spending time in my
backyard because of the sights, sounds, and
how it makes me feel.
Introduction #2
• The sun is kinda out from the clouds. This don’t
happen very much, but even without the sun
the woods are a cool place in every way. Most
of the time, it’s filled with fog and some rain. I
love these woods because of the what I see,
the stuff I hear, and what I remember whenever
I visit.
Introduction #2: Proficient
The scorching sun peaks out from the
thick blanket of white fluffy clouds, casting
endless shadows. This is a rare occurrence,
but even without the sun the Michigan woods
are a spectacular place in every way. Most of
the time, Michigan is filled with hazy fog and
light rain showers. I love these woods
because of the unique sights, spectacular
sounds, and the unforgettable memories and
emotions that rush to me whenever I visit.
Introduction #3
I watch the people that walk beside me as I
meander down the crowded aisles in WalMart. Watching people is definitely
something I can't help but do in a store
like Wal-Mart. It may not be an exciting or
thrilling place, but when it comes to being
interesting Wal-Mart is.
I constantly watch the people that walk
beside me as I meander down the crowded
aisles in the large Wal-Mart in our small town.
Watching people is definitely something I
can't help but do in a store like Wal-Mart. It
may not be an exciting or thrilling place, but
when it comes to being interesting Wal-Mart
takes the cake and sells it, too.
Warm-up: January 10
Using your
quickwrite from
this week,
Finish the
organizer for
your 3 body
Use all five senses to describe – help the readers
see, hear, and feel the experience –
Many writers believe they must use lots of words to tell their readers what is
happening in a story. However, good writers SHOW rather than TELL the
events of a story. They let the readers see people and ideas in action
instead of simply describing what happens…
Example 1: The apple was delicious.
…of course the apple is tasty! Don’t tell it, show it!
When I sank my teeth into the ripe apple, its juice hit me square in the eye.
Example 2: It was really snowing hard outside.
What actions (verbs) and descriptions (adjectives) can you add to
show it (not tell it!)
Crystal flakes are swirling down from the cloudy skies like a Christmas
snow globe.
Can you change these sentences so they SHOW instead of TELL the
reader what is happening?
The people at the table thought the food was delicious.
The broken car sat along the side of the road.
The day was very hot.
The trip to the amusement park was fun.
The dog was mean.
The classroom was a mess.
The movie was awesome!
Michael was very nervous before the math test.
The house on the corner was very old.
The mall was crowded and busy.
Warm-Up: January 11
Using your quickwrite from this week, write a
conclusion for your essay….
What is needed?
Thesis: Review the three sense that you wrote
The Importance of the Topic to You
an Overall Opinion or Impression of Topic
Your essay needs to come to an effective ending after the
last description is shared. The conclusion can show what you have
learned from the experience, show the significance of the event or
object, or make a connection with the reader.
1.Show what you have learned or how you’ve changed…
That was the only time I ever went to a summer camp. But
it made me a better person. Before camp, I couldn’t swim or work
as a team member. By the end of camp, I knew how to swim and
dive, and I was running on two relay teams. After that experience, I
was ready for bigger challenges when school started in the fall.
2.Show the significance or importance of the event or object…
I guess I always thought he would be around. When my
grandpa got sick and passed away, it surprised all of us. I am
thankful for the memories, love, and lessons he taught me throughout
the years. However, I realize those things will fade with time. I am
thankful to have the cherished “security” blanket that he had quilted
for me. I think of grandpa with every movie I watch as I curl up into
my quilt and with every zzzz of sleep I catch at night.
To me that book symbolized my growing up. I put all my
memories of being young in a special place to be cherished and was
ready for all the times that awaited me. The photo album still sits on
the nightstand next to my bed. I look through it once in a while to
relive those great experiences. That is why my photo album is the
most memorable gift I’ve every received.
Give an overall opinion or impression of your topic…
After planting the garden, I take the sweet smells of the
spring inside with me and throw open the windows of my room so I
can feel the breeze. At night as I lay in my bed, I drift off to sleep
thinking of small plants drinking in the gentle rain. Spring holds the
promise of new life and new beginnings with every whiff of air.
That is why it is my favorite time of year.
4. Make a connection with the reader…
Even if you don’t participate in sports, most people enjoy
being part of the crowd rooting for their favorite team. As a player, I
appreciate the crowd’s energy and support. My teammates and I
also rely on each other to do our best and continually try to
improve. That is why baseball season is my favorite time of year.
Win or lose, the school is united together during the nine innings of
each game.
Practice Grading!! “Relaxation at the Beach”
When I think of relaxation, my mind immediately takes me to a place where I can get
away from it all: the beach. This is the place where I feel most comfortable and at home. It is
the place I think of during the long, cold winter months which helps me get through the tough
Nebraska winters. This is a place where I can be myself; it is my favorite place.
First of all, there is nothing like the sensation of warm sand covering my feet, gently
polishing my toes as I curl them in and out of the soft grains. When I pick up my frothy drink, I
appreciate the delicious contrast of having the cold sweat of the glass run down my fingers while
my feet remain as toasty as marshmallows by a campfire.
As I close my eyes, a lullaby of splashing waves calms my nerves. The rhythm of
the tide, back and forth, is like the gentle swing of a hammock. This background music is
occasionally interrupted by the shrill calls of a seagull or even worse, the buzz of a jet that
reminds me my time in paradise will not last forever.
Looking around, I am surrounded by colors so bright they seem almost
phosphorescent. The sky and ocean are jewel blue: the green plants are flushed with life. Salt
is carried with the moisture in the air and leaves a tangy touch on my lips and skin. Finally, as
the sun begins to set, the warm breeze continues its caress while the shadows point the way
Although I obviously enjoy the beach, it is not often that I have the time or money to
get that far away. Luckily, there are much quicker and less expensive ways to relieve my stress.
For me, an ice cream sundae, bubble bath, or even a favorite movie can provide a temporary
escape from everyday problems. The keys are doing what you enjoy and getting away from the
normal routine.
1. Focus on the topic… state the topic in your intro. And again in
your conclusion
2. Your rough draft should look different than your final copy
You may incorporate a story to show significance, but your paper
should focus on the prompt and be a DESCRIPTIVE ESSAY
4. The reader needs to get a sense of the person behind the words.
5. The reader should be able to experience the person, object, or
6. The difference between 3 and 4 paper is… voice, description, details,
dialogue, show of significance
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