6 Best Writing Lessons Ever
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6 Best Writing Lessons Ever

Response to Text Sample- Grade 5

Catalinas Future 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 5

Catalina prompt image

Topic: Feelings about the Future
Main Idea #1: know exactly what they want
Main Idea #2: determined
Main Idea #3: hopeful

This student understands the organization of a piece of exposition. 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 Empowering Writers' skills. 

What worked:

    • Organization:  This piece includes an introduction, three main ideas and a conclusion following the pillar structure. The writer presents a central idea and develops the main ideas to support that central idea - how the main characters feel about their future. It was clear that the student understood the purpose for the writing. 

    • Main Ideas: The student included main ideas that were distinct from one another, and wrote a main idea sentence for each paragraph as the first sentence to focus the reader, however the main idea sentences are simplistic in nature.

    • Sentence Structure/Word Choice: the student used some interesting sentence variety and word choice: “she continued to wonder and wish, he is being optimistic”
  • 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 determined? The student writes, “In Lace Round the Sky, in paragraph 7 after Catalina says that she wants to be an astronomer, her father says, “Maybe if you work hard, you’ll be hired to clean the offices when you’re big enough, like your mother.” The writer goes on to explain why this is important, “But instead of giving up her dream she continued to wonder and wish.” This type of evidence and explanation are woven into each paragraph. 
  • Introduction and Conclusion: The introduction paragraph established the topic by turning the prompt into the response and then outlines the main ideas in the piece through a topic sentence. The conclusion re-stated the prompt and the main ideas. 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. 

Comparison Grid Image copy

The student did a great job using details from each selection in order to show the similarities of their feelings. The grid above is a helpful tool in helping students to organize their thoughts. Using the grid: the source texts would be listed at the top and the main ideas down the side. By determining main ideas, the student can easily compare the texts within the main idea paragraphs instead of trying to write about one text, then the other, and finally to compare. This is a much more effective organizational structure to a compare/contrast essay. 

See Section 3 Lesson 11 for more background on compare/contrast and a specific lesson plan along with 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 creative sentence starters and to paraphrase in their own words at times.

  • Section 3 Lesson 12 Paraphrasing
  • Section 3 Lesson 13 Giving the Author Credit
  • Section 4 Lesson 11: Transitional Words and Phrases 

Recommended Resources


Download Response to Text - Grade 5 Sample

Topics:Student Writing SamplesResponse to TextInformational Writing