<img height="1" width="1" alt="" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=940171109376247&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Dedicated to Teachers

Strategies for Detailed Writing


Adapted from The Writing Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo

Elaboration is the specific information a writer uses to develop her topic. Elaboration includes but is not limited to: details, facts, anecdotes, dialogue, inner thinking, setting description, character descriptions, statistics, reasons, information, and direct quotations from interview subjects. With strong use of purposeful detail, a piece of writing comes to life and the author's intended meaning is clear. With an absence of detail to develop the character, paint the world of the story, explain the content, or offer reasons and facts for the purpose of persuasion, the writing often falls flat or feels confusing to a reader.


Download the Sample Chapter


Offering a variety of elaboration strategies will also help students to vary the types of details they may include in their piece, so their drafts don't end up sounding one-note. Overall, we should aim to not just say to children, "Add more details," but rather, "Think about what it is you're trying to say/show/tell. Now what details would best help you do that?" (Murray 1985; Anderson 2005).

Watch an elaboration strategy in action below as Jennifer Serravallo works with a student on her writing:

Video Thumbnail
Video Thumbnail



Learn more about The Writing Strategies Book at Heinemann.com


Download the Sample Chapter

 Want to learn more about writing strategies to use in your classroom? Join the online Summer Writing Camp for teachers hosted by Jennifer Serravallo! The five-week program takes place in the Reading and Writing Strategies Facebook Group, and runs through July 27th. Registration is not required, and you can drop in and out whenever your schedule allows. Learn more here.


Jennifer Serravallo is the author of New York Times bestseller The Reading Strategies Book as well as other popular Heinemann titles, including Teaching Reading in Small Groups; Conferring with Readers; and The Literacy Teacher's Playbook, Grades K–2 and Grades 3–6. Her newest book is The Writing Strategies BookShe is also the author of the On-Demand Courses Strategies in Action: Reading and Writing Methods and Content and Teaching Reading in Small Groups: Matching Methods to Purposewhere you can watch dozens of videos of Jen teaching in real classrooms and engage with other educators in a self-guided course.

Jen began her career in education as a teacher in Title I schools in NYC and later joined the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University. Through TCRWP and now as an independent consultant, she has spent over a decade helping teachers across the country to create literacy classrooms where students are joyfully engaged and the the instruction is meaningfully individualized to students' goals.

Learn more about Jen and her work at www.jenniferserravallo.com, and follow her on Twitter @jserravallo.

Posted by: Steph GeorgePublished:

Topics: The Writing Strategies Book, Jennifer Serravallo

Comment on this post:

Related Posts

It’s Almost Time for Summer Camp!

It’s almost time for summer camp! Join Camp Director Jennifer Serravallo for the Third Annual Camp experi...
Jennifer Moore Jul 7, 2020 1:07:10 PM

Making Remote Learning Manageable For Teachers and Students

by Jennifer Serravallo I'm hearing of teachers spending 14-16 hour days managing it all, and I am really ...
Jennifer Moore Apr 21, 2020 12:52:17 PM

Jen Serravallo on Using Free Resources To Support Remote Teaching And Learning

As nearly all teachers make the shift to remote learning, sifting through the myriad online tools out the...
Steph George Apr 3, 2020 2:47:19 PM

Jennifer Serravallo on How to Get Started with Distance and Virtual Teaching, Even if You’re Feeling Unprepared!

Whether you’re in a school that is already under home quarantine or you’re simply preparing for the possi...
Jennifer Moore Mar 18, 2020 10:11:46 AM