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Looking at Writing

Third Grade: Writing Sample 1

During third grade, children are really flexing their “idea” muscles and learning to express those ideas in more sophisticated ways. Sentences are getting longer and more complex. Kids are learning to use a dictionary to correct their own spelling. Grammar improves; for example, you'll see appropriate punctuation, contractions, and correct subject-verb agreement. Third graders can write an essay with a simple thesis statement, examples and supporting details, and a thoughtful concluding sentence. They are building skills in the writing process — research, planning, organizing, revising, and editing (with help from teachers and peers).

"Read, because that's the way you learn how the language works. That's the way you learn about emotion, on paper. That's how you find out how stories are fastened, by reading and reading and reading. " — Katherine Paterson

Context of writing

Written by a third grader who receives special education for language arts. Writing is in response to a prompt, "Think about a person who is special; this could be a family member, a friend, or anyone else who is important to you. Write about why this person is special to you. Be sure to describe a few experiences you have had together that show why you chose this person."

What is this child able to do as a writer?

  • Writes with a purpose: telling about a person who is special to him — his dad.
  • The writer stays on the topic.
  • He spells many sight words correctly and uses invented spelling ('bares' and 'dares') for words he is unsure how to spell.
  • Shows a beginning sense of grouping sentences together to make a paragraph — uses a main idea ('Me and Dad hunt for bares and dares') and a few details.

Move your cursor over each red bubble image marker for observations about this child’s writing.

[Click the sample to view the full size image. See transcript]

Transcript: 

Me and dad hunt for bears and deers. When my dad gets a deer he cuts them. He always hunts. I go with him too and I see him get them.

What does this child need to learn next?

This writer needs to learn the concept of sentences as complete thoughts. The teacher could have him practice reading aloud to hear natural pauses and get a sense of when a sentence ends. After he has identified the sentences, the student could look for the beginnings of sentences and add capital letters.

The teacher could also guide the student to elaborate on ideas and add details to make the story more interesting. He could read the story to someone — a teacher or peer — and then they could ask questions about what they want to hear more about in the story. A graphic organizer such as a paragraph hamburger may help him plan how to add more meat to the middle of his story and add an ending sentence to end the paragraph and restate the main idea.

"Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them. " — Neil Gaiman