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Looking at Writing

Third Grade: Writing Sample 2

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 grade girl in a Writer's Workshop style class where students had free choice of topics. This story was inspired by the Judy Blume book, The Pain and the Great One, which the teacher had read aloud to the class.

What is this child able to do as a writer?

  • Chooses a topic that she feels strongly about — her brother being a pain.
  • Experiments with some punctuation and emphasis to create a lively piece ('NO!' and 'uh!').
  • Uses interesting, precise words ('Whatever' and 'Midget').
  • Shows an awareness of a reader or audience with her opening sentence ('Welcome to my life were evey thing I do is wonrg').
  • Evidence of understanding contractions: I'm, don't.
  • Beginning to show understanding of a paragraph: the main idea is that her brother is a pain with a few supporting 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: 

Title: Pain Wars: Me and my big brother the pain.

Welcome to my life where everything I do is wrong. We fight a lot. We fight about stupid stuff. The pain thinks I am the painful one. Sometimes I want to ask him to play. NO! I say, "Why not"" He says, "because I don't want to play with a kindergartner." "I'm in third grade." "Whatever. Well you look like a midget." "Take that back." "No." "Why not?" "Because it is the truth." "Uh!" My brother is rude too. I even go to his football games and lacrosse games. My brother is mean to me. The End.

What does this child need to learn next?

This writer has a lot of ideas, but she needs make sure they make sense as she writes her story. She should be encouraged to reread and revise her piece to help her present her ideas in a clear way. Rereading can help identify information that needs to be added to help the reader understand the story. Other information may need to be deleted. Because the author includes dialogue in her writing, it may help if the author identified who was speaking each part. The teacher could also challenge the student to add a few transition words (1MB PDF) to improve the flow of the story.

"This morning I took out a comma, and this afternoon I put it back again. " — Oscar Wilde