7th 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 7th grade prompts (actual prompts used in prior STAR writing tests):

 

Fictional Narrative Writing Task

 

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 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        tell a story about a fictional event;

o        develop a plot with a beginning, middle, and end;

o        develop a setting and characters; and

o        use appropriate strategies such as action, descriptive detail, and, perhaps, dialogue to make your story interesting.

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

 

Read the following writing task.  You must write a narrative about this topic.

Writing a Fictional Narrative

Imagine that in the year 2005 the world’s technologies suddenly stop working.  Write a narrative about a day in the life of a person if this occurred.  (Mrs. C’s note: you may write in first and/or third person.)  2001

 

And another: Read the following writing task.  You must write a fictional narrative about this topic.

Imagine that you have just moved to a city under the sea.  The next morning you decide to explore.  Write a story about what happens next.  (Write in first person.)  2005

 

And another: Imagine that you are an artist (for example, a musician, a write, a dancer or a sculptor).  One day, you wake up with an idea for a new work of art that you feel will be your best.  Write a story about the creation of that work.  (Write in first person.)  2005

 

And another: Airplanes, trains, ships, and cars have made it easy for people to travel to places far from their home. If you were given the opportunity to travel anywhere in the world for one week, where would you go? Think about a place you would love to visit and write a narrative describing the events that happen on your trip.  2007

 

And another:  While cleaning out a closet, you discover a treasure map. Write a narrative describing what happens the day you try to find where the map leads.  2007

 

Persuasive Writing Task

Directions:

In this writing test, you will write a persuasive letter in response to the writing task on the following pages.

You will have time to plan your letter and 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

state your position on the topic

describe the points in support of your position, including examples and other evidence

address possible arguments against your position

use correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. You may include a salutation and closing, but the format of the letter will not count as part of your score.

Read the following writing task. You must write a persuasive letter about this topic.

 

Practice Prompt: Your school district is thinking about lengthening the school year by starting two weeks earlier. Do you think adding extra days to the school year will improve education? Write a letter to the editor of your school newspaper that will persuade others to accept your viewpoint. Be sure to address opposing viewpoints in your letter.

 

Actual Released Prompt:

Your principal wants to reward your class by taking students on a field trip to some place in California. Think about what place you would choose for the students in your class to visit. Write a letter to your principal explaining why the place you have chosen is the best place to visit. Give convincing reasons that support your opinion and address the concerns of those who would argue against your position. Explain your reasons with specific details. 2001

 

Actual Released Prompt:

Imagine that you have decided to start an after-school activity club and want to recruit new members.  Think about the club you would like to start at your school.  Then write a letter to persuade students your age to join the club.  Be sure to include specific reasons and details that would make students want to join your club.  2004

 

Remember that your writing will be scored on how well you:

o        state your position on the topic;

o        describe the points in support of your position, including examples and other evidence;

o        anticipate and address readers’ concerns and arguments against your position; and

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

(Mrs. C’s notes: You may use the second person: “you” in this type of persuasive—as if in an advertisement.)

 

Same as above; different prompt (Actual Released Prompt):

Imagine that your cafeteria manager is considering removing all fast-food items (for example, hamburgers, pizza, and French fries) from your cafeteria menu.  After thinking about this issue, write your cafeteria manager a letter persuading him or her to accept your views on the removal of all fast foods from the cafeteria.  Be sure to include specific reasons and details in support of your position. 2004

 

 

Response to Literature Writing Task

Read the following story.

o        As you read, you may 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.

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

“To Sleep Under the Stars”, “Ask Sam” (2001), “The Alternate Speaker” “Mama and the Graduation Present” (2003), “Both Sides of the Fence”, “Dancing Miranda” (2006)

 

Scoring

Your writing will be scored 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

 

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 (write the author’s name, if mentioned), 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 or a persuasive argument.

 

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 your essay.

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        write your summary in your own words, except for quotations; and

o        express the underlying meaning of the article, not just the superficial details.

 

(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.)  “Bats” 2001