4th Grade Writing

 

How to assist your student: read and discuss each type—narrative, summary, response to literature—on separate days so as to firm your student’s understanding and not create confusion.  Practice orally: “What do they want you to do with such a writing task?”  “How would you start this?  What would be your first sentence?”  (I find that if a student knows how to begin the writing task, what the first words should be, he or she usually has an idea of what should follow next.)  “What kind of a graphic organizer would help you before you write your paragraphs?  Should you make lists, or draw a web?”  Instill confidence by complimenting what your child is doing that will lead to success.  Gently make suggestions as choices: “Which might be the better sentence to help your reader?  This…?  Or this…?”  Work with 5-sense words—how does it sound, smell, taste, look, feel?

 

Working with one of my seventh grade students, I was amazed to see a change in his writing which appeared to happen overnight (although I suspect his mother’s oversight in the weeks following helped a great deal).  I had requested that he write on one of the prompts below.  I then shared with him an actual 4-point-earning sample from the State’s website http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/sr/resources.asp.  We read and discussed the commentary for comparison with his writing.  Once he saw what the scorers were looking for, he adjusted his writing to fit within his understanding of what the evaluators wanted.  He then wrote on other prompts, comparing the 4-point earners with his writing and discussing the commentaries. 

To practice in a similar manner, enter http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/sr/resources.asp, scroll to the years (I have listed the years next to the prompts in this document) for 4th and 7th grade writing tests.  Scan through the .pdf document until you come to the prompt, writing samples, and commentaries.

 

Released 4th grade prompts (actual prompts used in prior STAR writing tests):

 

Narrative Writing Task  (You know that means you will have to write a story.)

 

Directions:

In this writing test, you will respond to the writing task on the following pages.

You will have time to plan your response and will write a first draft with edits.

Only what you write on the lined pages in this booklet will be scored.

Use only a No. 2 pencil to write your response.

 

Scoring:

Your writing will be scored on how well you:

o        include a beginning, a middle, and an end;

o        use details; and

o        use correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization.

 

Writing a Narrative

Imagine that you are asked to keep an elephant for a week.  Write a story about your unusual experiences with your elephant.  2005

When you write about this experience, remember:

o        to include a beginning, a middle, and an end;

o        to use details to describe the experience; and

o        to use correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization.

 

Same as above but with different prompt: “Imagine that you are able to spend a day with anyone you want.  Write a story about what happens during that day.”  2005

 

Same as above but with different prompt: “Imagine waking up one morning to find that you live in a world where machines do everything.  Write a story about what happens next.”  2005

 

Same as above but with different prompt: “Imagine that you suddenly wake up and find yourself a player on your favorite sports team. Fans are cheering for you. Tell why they are cheering, and write a story about what happens next.”  2001

 

Same as above but with different prompt: “Imagine you are walking down the hall at your school, and you hear a strange noise coming from your classroom. When you go inside, you discover that the strange noise is coming from a funny-looking animal sitting at your desk.  Write a story about what happens next.”  2003

 

Same as above but with different prompt: One day while you are out on a walk with a dog, the dog suddenly starts talking about where he used to live and how he would like to visit that place again. Write about what happens that day.  2007

 

Same as above but with different prompt: Think about your favorite animal. For one day, you are going to be that animal. Write about your day as this animal.  2007

 

 

 

Similar but not as fanciful or imaginary: If you could be the teacher of your class for one day, what would you do and why? Write a story about what would happen in your class the day that you are the teacher.  2003

 

Summary of an Article Writing Task

Read the following informational article.

o        As you read, you may mark the article or make notes.  Marks and notes will not be scored.

o        After reading the article, write a summary of what you have read. You have 60 minutes to read, plan, write, and proofread.

o        You may reread or go back to the article at any time during the test.

Scoring

Your writing will be scored on how well you:

o        state the main ideas of the article;

o        identify the most important details that support the main ideas;

o        use your own words in writing the summary; and

o        use correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization.

 

(Mrs. C’s notes: Eyeball 1/3 of the original article.  Count the number of words in that one-third [estimate].  Only write approximately that many words: 1/3 the number as in the original.  Underline and mark the source document for the main ideas.  See released summary prompts 2001 on “Frogs and Toads”, on “Beavers”; 2004 on “Kiting”, on “Japanese Art of Bonsai”.  To begin writing a summary, it might help to mention the word “article” or “story” (or whatever is used in the prompt): “The article about frogs and toads has some surprising information about these animals.  Although they appear similar, they are quite different.”  OR    “According to the article, beavers are amazing animals.”  Warning: do not add any factual information to what is in the article or story, even if you are the most informed person on the planet on this subject!

 

Response to Literature Writing Task

Directions:

 

Read the following story.

o        As you read, mark the story or make notes. Marks and notes will not be scored.

o        After reading the story, write an essay. You have 60 minutes to read, plan, write, and proofread your work.

o        You may reread or go back to the story at any time during the assessment.

Scoring

Your writing will be scored on how well you:

o        Write about and show your understanding of the story;

o        support your ideas by referring to the story and to what you already know;

o        use correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization.

 

Writing the Essay

Write an essay in which you present your understanding of the characters and the overall meaning of the story. Support your ideas with examples and/or evidence from the text.

Your writing will be evaluated on how well you write an essay that:

o        shows your understanding of the author’s message and your insight into the characters and ideas presented in the story;

o        is organized around several clear ideas and/or images from the story; and

o        justifies your interpretation by giving examples and citing evidence from the text.

 

(Mrs. C’s notes: When you begin a response to literature, your very first sentence should start like this:

            In the story, “(write the name of the story between the quotation marks)” by (if there is an author, write that name), the (tell a little about the story and the main characters.  This often involves how characters share a problem, grow or change.  Your writing must show how they solve the problem or grow or change.) 

 

This writing is similar to a summary in that it is shorter than a narrative.  2001 on “The Pecan Tree”, 2006 on “Little by Little”, “Piece by Piece”, and “Jack and Billy”