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6 Best Writing Lessons Ever

Constructed Response Sample- Grade 3- Humpback Whale

Humback Whale Sample Image(Click image to download sample and feedback)

This released student sample, from the https://www.doe.mass.edu/, is analyzed for specific skills taught using the Empowering Writers approach. The sample features the skills that the student successfully applied and suggestions for improvement. Feel free to download the sample and use it as a guide to analyze your own student samples. As assessment time nears, this will provide you with specific feedback for your students as well as point you in the direction of the most effective lessons. 

MCAS Released Item
Grade 3 2019 Constructed Response

Main Idea: Describe whale songs
Detail #1: types of sounds
Detail #2: why they sing
Detail #3: changing songs

This student understands the organization of a paragraph with a main idea and details. Through the use of the detail generating questions to pull out important evidence and then explain that evidence, this was an effective piece. This Score Point 3 paper is a great example of the application of the EW skills. 

What worked:

    • Organization:  This piece includes a main idea sentence and several details to support that main idea.  It was clear that the student understood the purpose for the writing. 
  • Elaboration: The author was able to include elaboration through the use of the detail generating questions - What does it look like? And Why is it important? In this response to text, the detail generating questions provide a frame for locating specific evidence and explaining that evidence. What does it sound like when whales sing? The student writes, “The author does that by saying sailors heard moans, grunts, squeals and roars.” The writer goes on to explain why this is important, “The author also says whale songs are how whales stay in touch.” This type of evidence and explanation are woven into the paragraph. 

Feedback with Prescriptive Lesson:

CHOOSE a Focus Skill

Main Ideas/Reasons: The student would benefit from lessons on developing main ideas sentences that are creative and adding additional high level vocabulary. 

  • Section 2 Lesson 10 and 11: Alternatives to Boring, Redundant Main Idea Sentences
  • Section 2 Lesson 15: Word Referents

Elaboration: The student would benefit by practicing how to state evidence through the use of sentence starters..

  • Section 3 Lesson 15: Paraphrasing
  • Section 3 Lesson 16: Giving the Author Credit

Recommended Resources


Download Constructed Response - Grade 3 Student Sample

Topics:Student Writing SamplesInformational WritingConstructed Response