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6 Best Writing Lessons Ever

Response to Text Sample- Grade 4 - Jean-Francois

JeanFrancois 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

Response to Text - Grade 4


Topic: Jean Francois - a seeker of knowledge
Main Idea #1: learned to read hieroglyphics
Main Idea #2: pictures were sounds, syllables, and words
Main Idea #3: uncover more secrets

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, three main ideas and a conclusion statement following the pillar structure. The writer presents a central idea and develops the main ideas to support that central idea. It was clear that the student understood the purpose for the writing. 
  • Main Ideas: The student included main idea sentences that were written as the first sentence in the paragraph. The main ideas were distinct from one another, however the language is simple and redundant. 
  • Sentence Structure/Word Choice: the paragraphs follow a similar pattern, however the sentences are varied with some interesting word choice: enthusiasm, figured out. This student could benefit from lessons on sentence structure, creative transitions, and word choice. 
  • 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 look like to be a seeker of knowledge? The student writes, “Evidence of Francois wanting to learn hieroglyphics is in paragraph 7. In paragraph 7 it says, “Then I will one day.” The writer goes on to explain why this is important, “then he left the house with enthusiasm so he thinks that he will be the first person to figure out the key to reading the Egyptian hieroglyphs writing.” This type of evidence and explanation 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.

  • Transitions: There were transitions within each paragraph that made it easy to read, however they were redundant in nature and 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 12: Paraphrasing
  • Section 3 Lesson 13: 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 2: Writing an Attention-Grabbing Lead
  • Section 5 Lesson 3: Effective Topic Sentences
  • Section 5 Lesson 4: Writing Topic Sentences
  • Section 5 Lesson 5: Writing the Introduction Paragraph

Conclusions:  The student needs instruction on effective conclusion paragraphs. 

  • Section 5 Lesson 7: Revising Dull Conclusion Paragraphs
  • Section 5 Lesson 8: Revising this Conclusion Paragraphs
  • Section 5 Lesson 10: The Hypothetical Anecdote

Recommended Resources


Download Response to Text - Grade 4 Sample

Topics:Student Writing SamplesResponse to TextInformational Writing