Washington Grade 4

WCAP: Measurements of Student Progress in Writing
Grade 7
Writing to Explain – Grade 7
Definition and Forms of Elaboration
Elaboration is the process of developing ideas by providing supporting details. These details
may take the form of facts, sensory details, definitions, examples, anecdotes, scenarios,
description, quotations—to name a few. A writer elaborates on his or her ideas so that a
reader will understand more clearly what he or she is saying. Thoughtful elaboration is
guided by the purpose for the writing and the needs of the audience.
Types of Elaboration
Whatever the form of elaboration (facts, anecdotes, examples, etc.), a writer may choose to
include it in extensions, lists, or in a more developed layered approach. Although most
sentences have extensions and lists can be used to elaborate, for example in presenting an
overview of a community at the beginning of an essay, the most effective writing usually has
some multiple layers of relevant elaboration—the type of elaboration determined, of course,
by the designated audience for, and purpose of, the piece of writing.
What is extension? This means minor detail(s) added to the kernel sentence (mostly
phrases and clauses) which move the idea slightly forward. For example, “...there is a
1977 Corvette in it and it is orange with racing suspension...” The extensions here are
orange and the brief phrase with racing suspension.
What is listed support/elaboration? It is a list that supports the idea or reason. This list
can be reordered without confusing the meaning of the text. For example, “One thing I
would put in the box are footballs. Well one reason why I would do that is because it
shows what my favorite sport was at the time. Another is it tells what I did every
weekend with friends. It also shows what I always dreamed of doing for a job...becoming
a football star.”
What is layered elaboration? This refers to the sentence-to-sentence progression of
ideas (explanation) that further develops the main idea (and supporting ideas) by digging
deeper through the use of specific examples, anecdotes, details, etc. In this case, a
hypothetical re-ordering of the support will harm the connection between ideas as those
ideas build from one to the next. For example, “The weather here can be warm and
sunny one day, but the next day it can pour down rain. It would almost be unpredictable
if we didn’t have the weather channel or the news. On warm, dry days people try to do
as much as they can. So when it’s a rainy day they can stay inside and keep warm.” Here
is another example: “Every kid loves candy and you can pass out candy! For example:
make a chart with all of your students' names on it. Then, on every Friday check which
people turned in their homework! However many X’s or checks they have is how many
pieces of candy they get.”
October 2009
Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
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WCAP: Measurements of Student Progress in Writing
Grade 7
What is causal elaboration? This refers to a cause/effect relationship which sometimes
might be in a chain of events where one action leads to the next (snowball or domino
effect). For example, “Once you’ve got used to this and you’re in 4th quarter of the school
year you still have to work hard. If you don’t then your grade drops and that lowers your
semester grade. So do all of the homework because you don’t want to get bad grades on
those because usually they are 50% of your grade and these could most definitely lower
your grade in class.”
October 2009
Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
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