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6 Best Writing Lessons Ever

Response to Text Sample- Grade 3

Grizzly 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 2019
Grade 3 

Topic: Text Features
Main Idea #1: subtitles
Main Idea #2: diagram
Main Idea #3: maps
Main Idea #4: fact boxes

This student understands the organization of an informational piece. 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 4 paper is a great example of the application of the EW skills. 

What worked:

  • Organization:  This piece includes an introduction statement, several main ideas and a conclusion statement that loosely follows the pillar structure. The writer presents a central idea that is clear - how the text features help the reader understand the text.  It was clear that the student understood the purpose for the writing. 

  • Main Ideas: Each main idea is distinct from the others. The details support the main idea. There are no clear main idea sentences, the student names the main idea of each paragraph but goes right into the details. The main idea, subtitles, is not in a paragraph of its own but embedded in the first paragraph.

  • 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 a diagram look like? The student writes, “it shows a picture of a grizzly bear and label the parts and what they do to help the bear, like strong teeth that are useful for catching and chewing food, and the thick fur that keeps it warm in cold or wet weather.” The writer goes on to explain why this is important, “The diagram also includes the picture to show what a grizzly bear looks like for people who have never seen one, and to show where the labeled parts of the body are.” This type of evidence is pulled directly from the text and then the explanations are woven into each paragraph. 
  • Introduction and Conclusion: The introduction statement established the topic by turning the prompt into the response. The conclusion re-stated the prompt. These “bookends” provided coherence to the piece. They are simplistic and could be improved by learning some techniques and strategies for effective writing.
  • Transitions: There were some transitions within each paragraph that made it easy to read, however the writing could certainly be enhanced using creative transitions and main idea sentence starters. 


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 and to paraphrase in their own words at times.

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

Introductions:  This piece could be enhanced by a strong lead and an effective topic sentence that names the specific main ideas in the author’s prewriting plan.

  • Section 5 Lesson 1: Leads and Topic Sentences
  • Section 5 Lesson 6: Writing Response to Text Introductions

Conclusions:  The student needs instruction on effective conclusion paragraphs. 

  • Section 5 Lesson 11: Writing Response to Text Conclusion paragraphs


Recommended Resources


Download Response to Text - Grade 3 Student Sample

Topics:Student Writing SamplesResponse to TextInformational Writing