#TeachingTuesday featuring Dr. Hodge

Narrative and Expository Writing: A Functional Linguistic Approach

Schleppegrell (2003) presents a three-step systematic approach to help teachers assess student writing in today’s K-12 classrooms. Grounded in functional linguistics, this approach identifies grammatical structures which, according to Schleppegrell (2003), are called upon to write in today’s classroom.

There are three narrative writing sequences and three expository writing sequences as reported by the English Language Arts Standards (California Department of Education [CDE], 1999, as cited in Schleppegrell 2003). The three writing sequences are summarized below building developmentally from simple to complex forms of writing (p. 9).

Narrative Writing

Briefly, narratives propose to “give an account of something dealing with sequences of events and experiences” (CDE, 1999b:227 as cited in Schleppegrell, 2003). In short, narrative writing is used to retell and create stories, including: stories, biographies, autobiographies, and short stories.

Pathways to Narrative Writing

  1. Recount- Report a sequence of events and make a judgement or express an attitude about events. Further development incorporates story grammar, such as plot, point of view, setting, characters, conflicts, resolution, twist or complication, and theme.
  2. Narrative- includes response to literature.
  3. Reflective Composition- Explore the significance and attempt to persuade a reader about the interpretation of a narrative.

(based on the Standards, CDE 1999a; b; as cited in Schleppegrell, 2003)

Expository Writing

Briefly, expository is intended to set forth and explain, including research and information reports, analytical / persuasive essays across different subject areas (CDE 1999a; b; summarized and as cited in Schleppegrell, 2003).

Pathways to Expository Writing

  1. Report- Describe how things are.
  2. Explanation- Develop a thesis through supporting details and examples.
  3. Persuasion- Make judgements and argue for a particular view (at the higher grades).

A Three Step Writing Assessment

Schleppegrell (2003) recommends that teachers should notice the verb grammar developmentally across four levels as illustrated in Table 1:

Table 1. Verb types with example extracted from a recount text
1.     Action


1.     Thinking/Feeling

Describe or define

2.     Saying

Dialogue or report

3.     Being/Having

Inner world

go, start, watch, take, look, arrive, line up, saw, wish, feel explain, said


have, are

From Schleppegrell (2003)

Table 1 highlights a progression in verb grammar. Notably, writing should first develop consistent use of action verbs. Subsequently, writing to express feelings can include “could have,” a feature not readily available to early or emerging writers. Consider the highest level, ideas about one’s inner world such as summary evaluations: “This is the best trip I had.” Here is a sophisticated form, but lacks paired past-tense noting that Table 1 shows mostly present tense. Additionally, many times the student’s target level showcases an inconsistent use, or in this case, a lack of variety in tense. Therefore, Schleppegrell (2003) recommends that teachers point out the occurrences of the correct form, and invite the student-author to apply the form consistently across the paper.

The second recommended step to analyze a student’s writing is to highlight the noun-phrase grammar. For example, does the student-author use articles consistently? Does the student-author use noun phrases consistently? Does the student-author use adjectives and, if so, check the control of prepositional phrases and relative clauses. Schleppegrell (2003) recommends noting the developmental level where the student-author lacks consistency; starting from the simplest to the more advanced forms. The following flow chart elucidates levels of development in noun-phrases.


Figure 1.  A Flow chart of Noun Phrase Grammar

Notable in Figure 1, “articles” such as “a” and “the” often challenge English learners.  Here the teaching tip is to direct the student in consistent use: an important skill to self-monitor and develop metalinguistic knowledge. Schleppegrell (2003) recommends teaching points based on the consistency and variety of the target form. Figure 1 starts with nouns and expands to descriptions and more elaborate complex sentence structures.

The third step recommended to analyze a student’s writing is to examine the linking clauses. The linking clauses will demonstrate cohesiveness. Some of the example linking clauses are: therefore, however, first, second, third, last of all, another point to consider, and, or, but.

Teaching cohesive markers seems to be easy to acquire for English learners by introducing target words or sentence frames. From experience in the field, I believe that student-authors latch onto the linking clauses readily because they enhance meaning-making; they assist memory by organizing and ranking; and they internalize orderliness of language. However, despite the ease of linking clauses, such an approach seems to counter the natural order hypothesis. Specifically, a good command of a variety of verb-forms naturally should precede the use of linking clauses. This is intuitive teacher theorizing. However, in practice, teachers often direct students’ to use linking clauses, even at the early or emerging stages of language development. Schleppegrell (2003), given my interpretation of the functional linguistic approach, on the other hand, recommends more attention to the order of language development in writing. Such ideas are important and enhance teacher decision-making in writing assessment.

In conclusion, Schleppegrell (2003) presents a three-step approach. When it comes to grammar and sentence structure, teachers are given little guidance because the Standards and Proficiency Level Descriptors do little to elucidate the progression of skills in narrative and expository writing (Schleppegrell, 2003). Using this functional linguistics approach highlights a natural progression and higher order. A systematic examination of grammar and sentence-structure in writing expository and narrative texts is fundamental to teaching and learning and the development of student-authors, K-12.



Schleppegrell, M. J. (2003) Grammar for writing: Academic language and the ELD Standards. Unpublished manuscript, final report, University of California Linguistic Minority Research Institute, Santa Barbara, California.


Start your Journey – Apply to be an English Language Fellow!

Priority Deadline: November 30, 2017

Interested in teaching overseas? The time to apply is now! The priority deadline for the 2018-2019 English Language Fellow Program application is coming up at the end of this month. In order to be considered for all available projects, you must submit your application online by November 30.  Learn more and start your journey today!

To help celebrate International Education Week the English Language Fellow Program has shared a by-the-numbers display of where our 2017-2018 Fellows are. Head to our website to see the locations of 135 projects in 70 countries. We also share the top 12 Fellow-producing universities for this year. Congratulations to Teachers College, Columbia University, for being number one!

Oasis Trilingual School seeking Spanish Immersion Teacher

We our currently looking to hire a Spanish Immersion teacher this month due to an unexpected family emergency our current Spanish teacher must take care of immediately.  Therefore, I am hoping that you might have in your program a graduate student who would like the opportunity to teach in the classroom.

We are a small private school seeking an energetic, creative and passionate teacher to teach our Spanish and enrichment classes.  Our website is: https://oasistrilingualschool.org/

This educational bilingual job requires:

  • Experience and passion teaching Spanish 
  • Experience with Project-based Learning, TPR, Organic World Language, Reader’s Writer’s Workshop, and Singapore Math a plus, but not necessary.  We will train applicant.
  • Team player who works well with co-teaching
  • Ability to work with multi-age classes, and differentiated language levels
  • Native speaking Spanish teacher a plus, but not necessary
  • Strong English language skills a plus, but not necessary
  • For the right applicant, the job has the possibility to expanding into teaching subjects or administration
  • Student teachers are welcome to apply

If you have any questions, please feel free to call me at: (213) 453-9892.  Thank you for your time!

Best regards,

Tamara Hernandez


Executive Director, Oasis Trilingual Community School



(626) 285-8262

King Faisal University in Saudi Arabia Seeking Teachers!

Dear MAT-TESOL program,

My name is Preston Dixon. I’m the Director of the Preparatory Year Deanship (PYD) English Department at King Faisal University in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We’re an Accredited English program in our 10th year of existence. Please see our website below for more information.

We believe that the number one factor for a student to be successful is having great teachers. Thus, we’re always looking for excellent teachers.

Thank you


Preston J. Dixon

English Program Director
KFU Preparatory Program
Al-Ahsa, KSA
Mobile: 00 966 597773745
Facebook Page

PT Job Opportunity: Trinity Academy

Trinity Academy in Koreatown, Los Angeles is looking to hire 2 positions.

  1. Afterschool teacher: M-F, 3-6pm working with middle schoolers on homework
  2. Private Tutoring position


  • Heart for kids, ability to pass down knowledge, caring

If you have a car with valid license, you are eligible for more hours for the afterschool position because of pickup and drop-offs.

Please send your resume to la.trinity.academy@gmail.com attention to Crystal Chong.

Job Opportunity: Wise Readers to Leaders Summer 2018 Positions


I am Program Manager for an education non-profit that runs programming over the summer. I am reaching out to education, social justice, and youth focused undergrad and graduate programs to blast our job positions for summer 2018. WiseReadersJob Descriptions (1) – See here for the job descriptions for our teacher and management jobs available.

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.


Olivia LaViolette

Program Manager



Job Opportunity: American English College Seeking Substitute Teachers!

Substitute ESL Instructor / English Teacher

American English College – Monterey Park, CA

American English College (www.aec.edu) – Monterey Park campus is looking for Substitute ESL Instructors to join our team of educators. Substitutes are a valued addition at our school – welcoming you as part of our own faculty.

Class Schedule: Substitutes may be called to cover either or both sessions. You may be called in advanced or day-of for any unplanned instructor absences.

Weekdays (Morning Session: 9AM – 1PM) (Afternoon: 2PM – 4PM)


  • Ability to conduct a student-centered classroom with clear objectives.
  • Ability to interpret and successfully implement instructor-provided lesson plan.
  • In cases of unforeseen or extended absences, the substitute may need to create lesson plans that meet the learning objectives of the class.
  • Creates a classroom environment that is conducive to learning and appropriate to the maturity and interests of the students.
  • Employ instructional methods and materials that are most appropriate for meeting the learning objectives.
  • Have ESL teaching experience in an IEP setting.
  • Have taught young adults to adults (16+) in an academic program
  • Have taught various ESL levels (Beginning to Advanced)
  • Have taught 75 minutes to 4-hour class blocks


  • Monthly faculty training workshops that are extremely engaging and helpful to your professional development
  • A wonderful work environment and culture for those that really have a passion for ESL and teaching international students
  • Consideration for Instructor Position

How You’ll Know You’re the Right Fit:

  • You are smart, creative, and fun.
  • You have intuition, and perceptive about how you need to help your students and when.
  • You are a good person, looking for an environment of other good people (that’s us).
  • You want to join a community of people who are extremely supportive and here to help you grow (also us).

Salary: $17.00 /hour

Application Questions

How many years of esl classroom experience do you have?

Have you completed the following level of education: Bachelor’s?

Are you in Monterey Park, CA?

Submit Resumes tochristine@aec.edu

Professional Development Event: Summit on (De)Institutionalizing Islamophobia on College Campuses

Join us on Friday, September 8th at USC

The Center for Education, Identity and Social Justice at the USC Rossier School of Education is pleased to announce our first official event: Summit on (De)Institutionalizing Islamophobia on College Campuses. The Summit will feature:

-Parwana Anwar, JD: Trial and Criminal Defense Attorney
Zulaikha Aziz, JD: Human Rights Attorney
Shabana Mir, PhD: Assistant Professor and Coordinator, General Education at American Islamic College
Marwa Rifahie, JD: Civil Rights Attorney at CAIR-LA
Najeeba Syeed, JD: Associate Professor of Interreligious Education at Claremont School of Theology

The Summit will address the legal issues and policies affecting today’s Muslim college students. It will explore thoughtful and empirically based understanding of the diversity and intersectionality within the Muslim community. Topics will include how the institutionalization of Islamophobia under the guise of national security is negatively impacting today’s Muslim college students, as well as discuss:

-Muslim ban
-Monolithic portrayals of Muslims
-Racialization of Muslims
-Violence directed towards the Muslim community

This one-day event on Friday, September 8th, 2017 will take place on USC’s campus. The Summit is open to higher education and student affairs professionals and scholars as well as student leaders. Continental breakfast and lunch will be provided to attendees. Space is limited – you can register for the event here

Early bird rates are in effect until August 18th, with a limited number of student leader rates available at $50 and general admission rates at $150.  After August 18th, the limited student leader rates will be $60 and the general admission rate will be $175.

Please contact us at socialjustice@usc.edu if you have any questions or visit bit.ly/sept8summit.

Disney English

Hello Trojans,

Did you know that Disney has English education centers all over China? If you want to teach English abroad and love Disney, this may be a great opportunity for you! Please check out Disney English jobs at the link: https://jobs.disneycareers.com/category/disney-english-jobs/1635/2469/1