These are the Easiest Ways to Teach "Writing descriptive compositions/essays" in Form Four

These are the Easiest Ways to Teach "Writing descriptive compositions/essays" in Form Four

Welcome to UNIT 14.4

PREVIOUSLY: 14.3, we covered the sub topic “Writing letters to the editor” in Form Three.   

IN THIS UNIT: 14.4, we will discuss how to teach “Writing descriptive compositions/essays” in Form Four.

Sub Topic: Writing descriptive compositions/essays.
Periods per sub topic: 8
Class: Form Four

(Also: For Literature in English Subject, Check out my Literature in English Blog. Also check out My Diary for Diary Writing Inspiration and More! )

Descriptive compositions/essays are kinds of essays that include extensive use of five human senses; sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell as well as figurative language. By using these two aspects of descriptive details, the writer is able to incorporate and present the objects and ideas vividly. The students will have to understand the words and phrases that incorporate five human senses such as; This Mountain is rocky, the sands at the beach are very rough, this town is as noisy as the swarm of bees, etc. One trick for students when writing descriptive essay, is to write as if he/she is tasting, smelling, touching, seeing, or hearing. And he/she should think of the words and phrases that include these five human senses and figurative language.

By the end of this sub topic/lesson, the student should be able to write vivid descriptions of people/places/events by using appropriate descriptive words, phrases, and figurative language.

This stage is about the preparation of the teacher before undertaking the lessons of the particular sub topic. These are all activities, procedures, materials, teaching aids, and games prepared by the teacher for teaching a sub topic:

  1. Putting heads together: Introducing the topic/lesson properly. Organising how students will be able to get to know what is the topic/lesson about. It is where teacher makes sure that students are going to be in his/her train. It includes brainstorming and familiarisation of the topic/lesson with the students.
This makes students stay together with the teacher. It is at this stage students can understand what is going to be discussed in the particular topic.

In this sub topic/lesson: The teacher will introduce first to the meaning of descriptive writing, and then how this kind of writing is carried out.

  1. Preparation of Materials. A teacher has to decide on the teaching/learning materials he/she is going to use.
In this sub topic/lesson: Application of any text with a descriptive composition. The teacher will have to prepare various texts/compositions (obviously short texts) on descriptive composition/writing. These texts will serve as model examples to the students, and the teacher will use some comprehension questions to test students on their understanding of the text in question.

  1. Target Usage. Show them/Guide them to the practice of the functions of the sub topic. A teacher has to show or guide students to the target practice of the grammatical functions of the sub topic.
In this sub topic/lesson: Students will be guided by the teacher to discuss about the grammatical expressions or transition expressions (mostly conjunctions) such as:
in addition,
And other transition words.

The teacher will employ some necessary expressions when writing descriptive compositions. Apart from the use of five human senses and imagery language, all important and relevant transitions are to be applied in order to have cohesive essay type.

  1. Context-Based Practice. In this sub topic/lesson: In this context, the teacher has to explore and guide students to describe things and people at the School, in the street, or at home. These settings or contexts are real experiences for students. A teacher is not advised to ask students to describe things that are not familiar to them. They should start with what they know.
In this sub topic/lesson; the following settings and situations can be applied by the teacher: School and library. These ones will make students feel the sub topic/lesson. They experience what is to be done by practice and within the real environments.
For the relevant experience to students, the teacher will encourage students to write things about the school in descriptive way. Writing about things around them will enable them to write easily.

  1. Vocabulary Building Practice. At this time, teacher discusses with the students on the vocabularies and phrases to apply in the already mentioned contexts and situations.
In this sub topic/lesson: There may be a long vocabulary list of words, phrases, and expressions, but here are some of them: Obvious, dressed, descriptive. At some other point, teacher will guide students to the discussion of various vocabulary and other patterns that are commonly used in descriptive writing. Students will have to take down these vocabularies, memorise them, and apply them in appropriate contexts and activities.

Guide the students to the full sub topic/lesson procedures, activities and games for the better understanding of the sub topic/lesson by following these activities:

Activity One: Introduction. The teacher to brainstorm and discuss with students on how descriptive writing is carried out. The requirements and the format of writing descriptive essay and other essays should also be discussed.

In this activity, the teacher should guide students to brainstorm on the meanings of terms like ‘Describe’, ‘Description’, and ‘Descriptive Essay’.

Activity Two: Presentation of Descriptive Writing. The teacher introduces the descriptive writing activity to the students providing them with topics from which pairs select one to write on. These selections of topics should at least be those which are familiar to students. They should be the topics that they know well about. For example, some of the topics can be:
  • Describe the classroom.
  • Describe the School Assembly Parade.
  • Describe the school library.
  • Describe the school garden.
  • Describe school football team.

You can limit students to write in pairs and ask them to write not more than five paragraphs. These few paragraphs will help them concentrate on the use of five human senses and images.

Activity Three: Students’ Participation. In this activity, students are now guided by the teacher to draft their descriptive compositions in pairs. They are asked by the teacher to write a five-paragraph essay on the topic they have chosen. This essay is the simplest essay format for any student to begin with. It has introduction; three body paragraphs; and a conclusion.
Students should write anything that comes up in their mind. The purpose is to write down the ideas about the topic they have chosen. They should do so because editing will come later. They should instruct not to seek perfection at first.

For examples and sample descriptive essays, read Writing Descriptive Essays in Form Three

Activity Four: Another Students’ Activity. Now the teacher will guide students in their pairs or groups formed to edit and revise their work so as to improve it. Students will now take their written five-paragraph essay on descriptive writing and pass through it with the critical eye that is, editing the content and the mechanics of the work.
Another option for this is that, teacher can ask the students in pairs or groups to exchange their works for others to cross check. The teacher may give them the checklist or guidance on editing their works.

As always, the teacher has to move from one pair to pair or from one group to another providing necessary assistance. This should not be overlooked as it helps students who are stuck on their tasks and they need some assistance. The assistance of such kind has big impact to the students because they come at right time, that is, at time when someone is desperate.

After the successful editing the exchanged works for themselves, now students in their original pairs or groups can finally produce a final draft of their descriptive compositions.

For examples and sample descriptive essays, read Writing Descriptive Essays in Form Three

Activity Five: The Display Time. At last, the teacher selects the best descriptive works and posts them on the notice board for other students to read. Or teacher may recommend the best works but have all works posted on the school noticeboard for the students to see and compare.

Additional Activity: As a teacher, what other activity can be applied in this sub topic/lesson? You can always drop your alternative activity or activities to this article so as to improve teaching and learning of ‘O’ Level English (OLE).

Literary Practice:
Students are guided by the teacher to discuss the uses of the following literary aspects that are important when writing descriptive compositions and essays:
Figurative Language

Transition words
These transitions are important as well. They make writing more cohesive and intact.
Concessions: apparently, in addition, moreover, besides, additionally, and the like. Read more about these expressions in 3 Important Things for a Good Essay and Writing Imaginary Events in Form Three

Also students should be equipped with the knowledge of correct usage of Adjectives and Verbs

The students discuss with the teacher on how relevant is the sub topic/lesson to the daily life experiences. As it was pointed out in the previous post on Form Three, descriptive writing is the core centre where we get information and without clearly descriptive language we cannot understand most of the things. Thus, descriptive writing should be learnt because it widely applied in our daily life experiences.

The teacher should use relevant assessment tools like oral questions, drills, games, exercises, pair works, group works, and assignments so that to check if a student is able to write vivid descriptions of people/places/events

Students can be assessed in the following ways:

Assessment #01: Oral Questions
Orally through their responses to questions asked in regard to adjectives and/ or senses.

Assessment #02: Group Activity.
Through their group activity pertaining to descriptive adjective use for a particular sense.

Assessment #03: Individual Activity.
Individually, students to write five-paragraph descriptive essay on the topic of their choice.

In closing, the students will review what an adjective is as well as what they five senses are. They will also be challenged to link the two together when it comes to descriptive writing. The students will also be reminded that this technique can be used for nearly an person, place, thing, or object.

NOTE: These stages explained above are not necessarily covered in a single lesson of single or double period. Remember that this is the guide for teaching the whole sub topic which has periods ranging from 6 to 20. So, the teacher's task is to divide these stages according to the total number of periods for a particular sub topic.

This article is about how to study and teach "Writing descriptive compositions/essays" in Form Four. As a student or teacher, what is your opinion on how to study and teach this sub topic/lesson?
Your opinion is worth and I believe that it can make these materials better for our own consumption.
You are Welcome!


Emmanuel Kachele

Emmanuel Kachele is a founder and Blogger of KACHELE ONLINE Blog, an educational blog where 'O' Level English - 'OLE', 'A' Level English (ALE) and other related teaching and life skills are shared extensively. This is an online center for all Tanzanian Secondary School English Language students and teachers (Forms I-VI) and all interested English Language learners and teachers worldwide.


Please share your thoughts

  1. A lot of tips though and there are a lot of easy and searchable sites to recommend at having things written in your essay. I've done that before about the first day of school in college. ''what will you expect about school and write an essay showing your skills to the school'' lols. Well in some way there is also lots of sites and tips like it is helpful to us to educate ourselves and best results will lead us there. Click on it. Good luck

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