Writing Patterns

About Transcript Handouts

Learn how to identify the patterns used by writers to organize their ideas. This will help you anticipate how a text will develop an idea and improve your own writing.

0:00 Owl: Welcome to How to Identify Writing Patterns, an instructional video on reading comprehension brought to you by the Excelsior College Online Writing Lab.
0:16 I’m sure at some point you’ve had a teacher ask you to analyze a text.
0:20 But what does that mean?
0:23 To analyze literally means to break something down into its parts and examine them.
0:29 Analysis requires the ability to think critically about what you read, reflect on it, and draw your own conclusions.
0:38 In this video, we’ll discuss one strategy for analyzing a text: how to identify its structure, parts, and organization to better understand what the text is saying and how.
0:50 After watching this video, be sure to visit the Online Reading Comprehension Lab of the Excelsior College Online Writing Lab for additional videos and resources on how to analyze a text, such as Evaluating an Argument and Evaluating an Author’s Intent.
1:08 Analyzing a text is easier to do if you can identify its structure, parts, and organization.
1:14 This is often referred to as its writing pattern.
1:18 A writing pattern is a specific way of organizing ideas to convey a certain type of argument.
1:25 Writing patterns are also sometimes referred to as patterns of organization, rhetorical modes, or rhetorical styles.
1:34 The writing pattern an author uses will vary based on the desired purpose.
1:40 Each writing pattern is uniquely designed with its own special parts that work together to achieve a specific purpose.
1:47 For instance, if an author wants to define a concept or term, the writing pattern used to achieve this goal will look different from the one used to compare or contrast two or more ideas.
1:58 Furthermore, it’s important to remember that an author might use more than one writing pattern in the same text depending on the specific purpose of each part of the text.
2:09 Learning how to recognize writing patterns is crucial for helping you improve your reading comprehension.
2:14 By recognizing the writing pattern, you will be able to focus your attention on what the author is trying to say and anticipate how the author will develop a point.
2:23 This deeper understanding of what the text is doing will help you improve your memory of what the text is saying.
2:30 Finally, by gaining familiarity with the different writing patterns, you will have useful models to help you develop your own writing.
2:38 In this video, we’ll go over eight of the most common writing patterns.
2:45 They are definition, classification, generalization and example, cause and effect, comparison/contrast, list, sequence, and summary.
2:59 We’ll go over each one in turn.
3:03 We’ll describe the purpose of each pattern and go over some signal words for each one.
3:08 Signal words are words that are frequently used as part of the pattern and, therefore, can help you identify it.
3:13 After looking at some signal words, we’ll examine the structure of the pattern.
3:18 Finally, we’ll look at an example of the pattern.
3:24 The writing pattern called definition is used to explain the meaning of a word or phrase.
3:29 Words that signal this pattern are: is, refers to, means, is defined as, is called, is characterized by, and entails.
3:43 The structure of this writing pattern consists of a definition of the key word or phrase followed by examples or additional information.
3:50 Here’s an example of the definition writing pattern in action.
3:54 Signal words are italicized for emphasis.
3:57 Some insects undergo a process called chrysalis, which is defined as a transitional stage during which a physical transformation occurs. This process happens to caterpillars, which transform into butterflies. It also happens to other pupa that transform into moths.
4:16 The writing pattern called classification is used to divide a topic into parts based on specific characteristics.
4:23 Words that signal this pattern are: classified as, comprises, is comprised of, consists of, elements, kinds, types, stages, and groups.
4:39 The structure of this writing pattern consists of a statement of the topic or major category followed by a description of each subdivision.
4:46 Here’s an example of the classification writing pattern in action.
4:50 Signal words are italicized for emphasis.
4:53 The animal kingdom is comprised of several phyla. Animals with a backbone, such as fish, reptiles, birds, amphibians, and mammals are classified as part of a chordate phylum. Animals with exoskeletons, such as insects, arachnids, and crustaceans, are classified as part of the arthropod phylum.
5:17 The writing pattern called generalization and example is used to support a general statement with specific examples.
5:25  Words that signal this pattern are: for example, for instance, to illustrate, and such as.
5:34 The structure of this writing pattern consists of a general statement followed by specific examples.
5:40 Here’s an example of the generalization and example writing pattern in action.
5:44 Signal words are italicized for emphasis.
5:47 Human knowledge about the natural world is always changing. For example, only a few hundred years ago it was still commonly believed that the Earth stood at the center of the universe. However, today we know that our solar system is heliocentric, which means the Earth and all the other planets in our solar system revolve around the Sun.
6:10 The writing pattern called cause and effect is used to show how things are related by explaining how one thing causes another.
6:17 Words that signal this pattern are: causes, effects, is caused by, is produced by, is the result of, results from, because, consequently, and as a result.
6:34 The structure of this writing pattern consists of a statement of the effect followed by a description of the causes.
6:39 The structure can also be reversed to begin with the causes and follow with the effects.
6:44 Here’s an example of the cause and effect writing pattern in action.
6:48 Signal words are italicized for emphasis.
6:52 The water cycle that produces rain fall is commonly misunderstood. The cycle begins with heat from the sun, which causes water on the surface to evaporate and rise into the atmosphere. As the water vapor rises, it condenses to form clouds. Eventually, gravity causes the water to fall back to the surface as precipitation.
7:14 The writing pattern called comparison/contrast is used to compare and contrast two or more things to show how they are similar and/or different.
7:23 There are two types of words that signal this pattern.
7:26 They are words that show similarity, such as: like, similarly, likewise, resembles, same, in comparison, in the same way, both, and share.
7:42 And words that show difference, such as: unlike, in contrast, differently, however, despite, whereas, on the other hand, on the contrary, differs from, and rather than.
7:59 The structure of this writing pattern consists of a statement of the two or more items to compare followed by a description of their similarities or differences.
8:08 Here’s an example of the comparison/contrast writing pattern in action.
8:12 Signal words are italicized for emphasis.
8:16 Apples and oranges are two very different plant species. Whereas orange trees prefer tropical environments, apple trees are most commonly found in temperate climates. Furthermore, while apples are harvested in the fall, oranges, on the other hand, are normally harvested in the winter.
8:36 The writing pattern called list is used to present lists of information.
8:41 Words that signal this pattern are: also, in addition, another, additionally, furthermore, moreover, next, finally, first, second, third, etc.
8:58 The structure of this writing pattern consists of a statement of the topic followed by a description of each item.
9:04 Here’s an example of the list writing pattern in action.
9:07 Signal words are italicized for emphasis.
9:11 Choosing the right college can be a daunting task, but it can be easier if you follow these three guidelines. First, think about your academic goals and make a list of colleges that will help you achieve them. Also, consider your finances and refine your list based on tuition and access to financial aid. Moreover, factor in the difficulty of getting accepted by grouping your top picks into hard, medium, and easy categories. Now, you’re in a better position to choose!
9:44 The writing pattern called sequence is used to describe a process, series of events, spatial order, or order of importance.
9:54 Words that signal this pattern are: first, second, before, after, next, then, last, finally, steps, phases, stages, dates, times, numbers, and letters.
10:14 The structure of this writing pattern consists of a statement of the process or event followed by a description of each step.
10:22 Here’s an example of the sequence writing pattern in action.
10:25 Signal words are italicized for emphasis.
10:28 The writing process consists of several steps. First, think about the assignment and what’s required. Next, develop some ideas for your paper. Then, review your ideas and narrow down your topic. After that, the next step is to gather some information. Then, you’ll want to organize your information and write a first draft. Finally, revise and edit your draft into a final draft.
10:56 The writing pattern called summary is used to provide a condensed review of a topic or text.
11:02 Words that signal this pattern are: in summary, in brief, in conclusion, in short, to sum up, and to summarize.
11:14 The structure of this writing pattern consists of a conclusion followed by a list of key points.
11:19 Here’s an example of the summary writing pattern in action.
11:22 Signal words are italicized for emphasis.
11:26 To sum up, there is insufficient evidence at this time to support the existence of paranormal abilities, such as telepathy, clairvoyance, and telekinesis. Reports of these phenomena largely rely upon anecdotal evidence rather than observation and analysis. Furthermore, controlled studies have been unable to replicate the claims made by proponents. In short, claims of paranormal abilities do meet scientific standards.
11:55 Learning the different writing patterns may seem challenging at first.
11:59 However, once you understand them, you will greatly improve your reading comprehension and even your own writing.
12:07 Click here to download a complete list and description of the eight common writing patterns.
12:13 For more information on the different types of writing patterns and how to use them in your own writing, visit the section on Rhetorical Styles in the Excelsior College Online Writing Lab.
12:24 Remember to visit the Online Reading Comprehension Lab of the Excelsior College Online Writing Lab for additional videos and resources on how to analyze a text.
12:35 Thanks for listening to this instructional video on How to Identify Writing Patterns!
12:40 Visit the Excelsior College Online Writing Lab for more support with reading and writing skills.

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