“I have a question regarding last year’s 7th grade Expository STAAR® Prompt. We just took our 2015 benchmark (MOCK STAAR) and I am reading the students’ essays. I am a bit confused about how they would have come up with a specific concrete detail to write about with this prompt. The prompt is “Write an essay explaining the importance of having a good friend.” I am unsure of the types of things that I would see in the Specific Concrete Detail box. Some students spoke of others who were friends, but did not focus on why it is important to have a friend. With essays like “Explain the importance of never giving up” I can see how to get the concrete detail, but the good friend almost seems too personal to me.”David
- What I have read;
- What I have seen;
- What I or someone else has done; and
- What I or someone else has said (dialogue/famous quotations, etc.).
Another way of looking at “what I have read, seen, done, said” is to have students generate ideas and examples by using the acronym, GET HELP.
G – Government (Politics, Candidates, Issues)
E – Education (Science, Math, English, Social Studies)
T – TV Shows (Sitcoms, Series)
H – History (Famous Historical Events)
E – Entertainment (Art, Movies, Social Media)
L – Literature (Novels, Dramas, Short Stories, Poetry, Essays)
P – Personal (Family, Friends, Hobbies, Goals)
Now, let’s look at the 2015 7th grade composition prompt again: “Write an essay explaining the importance of having a good friend.”
- Friendships in Government: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson (statesmen)
- Friendships in Education: Science class – electrons and protons; seeds and flowers (a little twist on friendship . . .)
- Friendships on TV: Ariana Grande — a show based on two friends who start a baby-sitting service to earn money; Friends sitcom with Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler, and Ross
- Friendships in History: Meriwether Lewis and William Clark (trailblazers); Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway
- Friendships in Entertainment: Han Solo and Chewbacca
- Friendships in Literature: Harry Potter by JK Rowling: Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermonine Granger; Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck: George and Lennie (a little old for 7th grade, but 9th graders might use this one); The Giver by Lois Lowry: Jonas, Asher, and Fiona
- Personal Friendships: Each student would have his/her own.
- Good friends are reliable. Not, I can rely on my best friend. (Note: Avoid first person in an expository essay.)
- Good friends arrive when no one else will.
- Good friends make us laugh when we are down.