Informative/Explanatory Prompt- essay Based on a Quote

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Informative/Explanatory Prompt- Essay Based on a Quote

  • Task: Students will read a quote, adage or universally accessible topic and respond in an educated, thought-provoking essay.
  • ???Can your imagination reach its full potential on this picture???
  • Types of Informative/Explanatory Essay Quote Prompts:
  • ·    Quotes- famous quotations by historians, authors, politicians, etc. Example: “Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment.”
  • ·    Adages- short, memorable sayings that have great meaning attached. Example: Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you react to it.
  • ·    Universally Accessible Topic- Food for thought that is not attached to curriculum or studies, but rather an idea formed from life experience. Example: Some say that love is the most powerful emotion. Others think love is simply a reaction.
  • “To be or not to be…”
  • “Early to bed, early to rise…”
  • “Harder, better faster, stronger…”

How to Respond to a… NJ ASK Informative/Explanatory Essay—Quote Response

  • An informativ/explanatory essay—quote response means that you will have to write an essay explaining a quote that relates to a life topic.
  • You will need to:
  • -Write a four paragraph essay that (1) explains the quote; (2) explains a connection that can be made to the quote and the world/society; (3) explains how the quote can be connected to your self; to someone you know personally; OR to your life in the near or distant future; and lastly, (4) summarizes what you have written.
  • -Complete the writing process in 30 minutes.
  • Responding Guidelines:
  • -Read the prompt carefully by analyzing the quote and making a basic, logical sense of its meaning.
  • -Plan for the four parts of the essay by creating a four column chart and listing bullet notes pertaining to the purpose for each paragraph (see bolded numbers 1-4 above).
  • -Write a four paragraph essay. *All paragraphs need topic and closing sentences with sufficient elaboration in between, such as facts, examples, and/or anecdotes.
  • -Read through your essay to revise and edit.

Informative/Explanatory Prompt Essay Based on a Quote


  • Aim for a 4-paragraph response which uses various cohesive devices (think- transitions!).
  • Remember that this is all expository (explanatory) not narrative (telling a story).
  • You will need: an opening and a closing; a well-developed, cohesive, single focus; organization and logical progression.
  • You will also need at least two well-developed examples, using vivid details, that directly relate to the prompt.


  • Above all
  • Again
  • Also
  • As a result
  • As an illustration
  • At other times
  • Besides this
  • Certainly
  • Consequently
  • Equally important
  • Finally
  • First
  • For example
  • For instance
  • For this reason
  • Furthermore
  • Generally
  • However
  • In addition
  • In conclusion
  • In contrast
  • In fact
  • In other words
  • In particular
  • In spite of this
  • Last
  • Most importantly
  • Nevertheless
  • Next
  • Now
  • of course
  • On one hand
  • On the other hand
  • Or
  • Otherwise
  • Second
  • Similarly
  • Specifically
  • Still
  • Surely
  • Then
  • Therefore
  • Third
  • To explain
  • To illustrate
  • To wrap it up
  • While this may be
  • True
  • With this in mind
  • Yet


  • Grab the reader’s attention
  • Integrate the quote, adage or topic by giving background information and by explaining what the quote means to you
  • Thesis statement or main idea

Body Paragraph #1:

  • Give example(s) from literature, history, science, film, current events (the world and society).
  • You can actually study for this part, because themes are UNIVERSAL.
  • Think about some major novels/stories that you have read thus far and/or some historical figures. Figure out what they stand for, what themes they exemplify, and be ready to work that into whatever prompt presents itself.

Body Paragraph #2:

  • Example(s) from your own experience or observation, or from someone you know personally (if the prompt states to connect to your life other wise make another text or world connection).
  • You will write this as an explanation, not a narration.
  • Do not be tempted to relive the story; speak about it with an academic voice.


  • Generate final remarks without introducing brand new examples
  • Unify and Summarize your ideas
  • Remind the audience of your main point/thesis
  • Use a satisfactory close/clincher (could tie back into intro.)

Informative/Explanatory Map (Quote)

  • Topic: _________________________________________________________
  • Introduction: (Explain what the quote means to you)
  • _______________________________________________________________
  • Supporting Reason #1:
  • ________________________________________________________________
  • ________________________________________________________________
  • Evidence: (From literature, history, science, film, or current events)
  • ________________________________________________________________
  • ________________________________________________________________
  • Supporting Reason #2:
  • ________________________________________________________________
  • ________________________________________________________________
  • Evidence: (From your own experience or observation, or from someone you know personally if the prompt states to connect to your life.)
  • ________________________________________________________________
  • ________________________________________________________________
  • Conclusion:
  • _________________________________________________________________

Informative/Explanatory Prompt Essay Based on a Quote (Model)

Prewriting: Brainstorming (“Thinking on Paper”)

  • Initial list of ideas:
  • -Albert Einstein suffered from mental retardation when younger.
  • -Bill Gates (second richest man in world) was bullied as a child.
  • -Problems I had while in grammar school.
  • -Wealthy people take success for granted.
  • -Singers and movie stars often face obstacles (i.e. Shakira)


  • A “path with no obstacles” would certainly be most people’s dream come true. Imagine living life without any problems. Imagine finding success without having to face failure. Imagine what such a life would be. (Hook reader) To me, this quote holds the truth of life. Of course, not having to run into mistakes would be a dream come true for me. But at the same time, it would also be my own dreadful loss. Obstacles, failures, and mistakes: with no obstacles every single challenge one encounters happens for a reason. A “path with no obstacles” is not natural. (Integrate quote) Whether everyone believes so, obstacles are necessary in everyone’s path to succeed. (Thesis Statement)

Body paragraphs:

  • If one thinks about some of the most successful people in life, nearly every single one had great if not ostensibly insurmountable obstacles in their “paths.” Albert Einstein, for instance, suffered from mental retardation as well as rejection from the first college he applied to. But those obstacles were necessary for his incredible contributions to the science community today. Another example is Bill Gates, the second richest man in the world and chairman of Microsoft. Gates was ostracized by his peers during his elementary years, but such hardships made him the successful figure he is today.
  • Failure is like oxygen in my life. It occurs all around me. It occurs to me. It is an omnipresent “thing!” Obstacles are what prepare us for life by teaching us a little more about ourselves and the world and people around us. To be where I am today, I had to swim through an enormous pool of failures. Although I drowned at some points I always came back up and kept on swimming. A good example of this as well as the importance of failure is when I first entered middle school. Throughout elementary school, I was able to succeed in all of my coursework without much effort. Only after I got my first failing grade did I learn that it is important to prepare ahead. This failure taught me how it’s a competitive world, and one has to work to get by.
  • Many singers and movie stars have also faced obstacles in their life. Famous singer Shakira was renounced by her music teacher because her voice was too strong. Many movie stars were very unsuccessful during their first years but eventually climbed up to fame.


  • A path without obstacles probably does not lead somewhere because there is probably nowhere to lead to. Paths in life are made up of mistakes, and the destination is the culmination, the results, and the golden lessons learned from mistakes. Just how these people failed, I also failed. I failed in my youth and I probably will fail many more times in the future. (Reminds audience of the main idea of the essay) To tell you the truth, without failure, I would have absolutely no idea at all where I would have ended up. But I can honestly say this: it would certainly be a bad place. (In this conclusion, the writer reinforces how she has proven her point.)

Informative/Explanatory Writing Prompt Checklist

  • Did I remember to…
  • Begin with a grabbing lead which “hooks” the reader?
  • State/integrate the quote, adage, or topic?
  • Include background information to introduce the question?
  • End the paragraph with a thesis statement expressing the main idea of my essay?
  • BODY
  • Did I remember to…
  • Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence?
  • Focus each body paragraph on one idea (one idea, one paragraph)?
  • Include an example(s) from literature, history, science, film, current events, or your own experience to explain/support the quote?
  • Make sure each body paragraph relates to the thesis statement?
  • Make sure each body paragraph is written as an explanation, not narration and speaks with an academic voice.
  • Did I remember to…
  • Generate final remarks without introducing brand new examples?
  • Remind the audience of the main idea/thesis of my essay?
  • Unify and summarize/restate some of the key points I made about this main idea?
  • Use a satisfactory close/clincher (could tie back into intro)?

Why this essay deserves a “6”

  • A clear and distinct understanding of the quotation and the task is presented here. The response is thoughtful, organized, well developed and fluent from the introductory paragraph to the concluding paragraph. The writer uses a creative approach (imagine living life without problems) in the introductory paragraph to draw the reader into the response. A personal explanation of the quotation follows. Successful personalities (Albert Einstein and Bill Gates) are purposefully mentioned as examples of those who have faced obstacles and succeeded. The writer then explains the importance of the quotation in his own life using a personal example to further illustrate. This example ends with the lesson learned (This failure taught me how it’s a competitive world and one has to work to get by.). An extra example of how famous celebrities overcame failure was added. The writer concludes with a discussion of how failure leads to success on a global and personal level. This response is complete, pertinent, and exhibits verbal sophistication. There are very few, if any errors.

How to Respond to a… NJ ASK Explanatory—Personal Prompt

  • An explanatory—personal prompt means that you have to write an essay explaining a topic that connects personally to you.
  • You will need to:
  • -Write a four paragraph essay that addresses the topic and elaborates on each of its parts.
  • -Complete the writing process in 30 minutes.
  • Responding Guidelines:
  • -Read the prompt carefully and break it into parts. Circle, underline, or number each part that you would have to address in your essay.
  • -Plan for the parts of the prompt by using specific information/details for each.
  • -Write a four paragraph essay. Each paragraph should represent one part and should be logically organized. *All paragraphs need topic and closing sentences with sufficient elaboration in between, such as facts, examples, and/or anecdotes.
  • -Read through your essay to revise and edit.

Informative/Explanatory Prompt – Essay Based on a TOPIC

  • Directions: It often seems that children are much better at ignoring their parents than they are at paying close attention to them. Think of a situation you have been in where this was true. Then, tell the full story in your composition. Keep the following in mind:
  • Establish a clear sense of the place where the incident happened.
  • Write in detail about the people involved (in this case at least one parent and one child).
  • Explain why the child was happier ignoring, rather than paying attention to, his or her parent(s).
  • Describe how the parent(s) handled the situation.
  • Defend the parent(s) and/or the child.

Outline for an Informative/ Explanatory Essay based on a topic:

  • Introductory Paragraph
  • Open with a creative idea to get your reader interested.
  • Briefly state what you believe to be the story.
  • State details to support your ideas.
  • Body Paragraph #1
  • Who are the people and what are they doing?
  • When and where is the action taking place? Under what conditions?
  • What is the problem?
  • Body Paragraph #2
  • Why does the situation exist?
  • How might the story continue after the instance captured in the scenario?
  • Conclusion
  • Restate what you believe to be the story.
  • Summarize the prompt details that prove your ideas.
  • Close with a creative statement.

Introductory Paragraph:

  • What child has not, at one time or another, eaten something when his parents tell him not to? (“Hook” the reader with a rhetorical question.) It is human nature to do what is forbidden, especially in children. In this case, a son confesses to his father that he has eaten his father’s chocolate cake, something that he was forbidden to do, but chose to ignore.

Body Paragraph #1:

  • After they have done something wrong, children often feel remorseful. As a result, they go to tell their parents about their misconduct right away. In this case, a son goes to tell his father that he has eaten his father’s piece of chocolate cake. (This sentence establishes both who the characters are and what the problem is.) Knowing how much his father loves chocolate cake, the boy is scared. However, he is close enough to his father to feel safe telling him the truth. It is the father’s birthday party, so he is already in a good mood and will likely be able to get another piece of cake!

Body Paragraph #2:

  • Following the son’s confession, the father would most likely clean up his son and order himself another slice of chocolate cake. (This addresses the question of how the conflict might be solved.) Most likely, the boy will not be punished because of the sincerity and honesty he shows is father. While the father is waiting for his cake to come, he might even play with his son. At first, the father’s expression is stern, but there is also a half smile at the side of his mouth that shows that he can have a sense of humor.


  • There is a unique relationship between a father and a son. It is a good relationship, and both of them value honesty. Evidently, a good relationship can be “a piece of cake.” (Creative closure and an effective compositional risk.)

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