Here are over 40 exercises for students to practice writing a strong topic sentence, supporting details, and to utilize a few words from the sidebar or brainstorm their own list of words. Some of the words will stretch your students. Then use the pre-writing to write a strong paragraph. Select prompts include sidebar terms that match the prompt topic. This will increase and improve student diction. Suggest students choose a few to include in their paragraphs.
This is a great way to practice sentence structure, strong use of vocabulary, topic sentence and related details. These can become homework practice or use as a writing warm up. Included is a suggestion to create a mini book of paragraphs.
Then have students read each other's paragraphs. This will engage their thinking by seeing how another child incorporated the terms, shaped the paragraph, and delivered an expository nonfiction piece.
Last, take the best paragraphs and use them as a model for either pre-writing or post-writing exercises. The name of the game has always been to "model, model, and model."
Another suggestion is to allow students to self-select topics of interest. If they have background knowledge or have invested interest it may encourage writing for those who may be reluctant.
And you know, writing right along with the students is a great way to experience the exercise and to show what you, the teacher has written. In this way you are modeling for your students a higher level of writing within the framework of the exercise.