SOL14: Opinion Writing Grade 4

Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsey for creating a place for us to work collaboratively.


What a fun day today as a fourth grade team reviewed opinion on-demands and worked on scoring them.  Conversations were rich as we focused on evidence of what the students “can do” and then moved on to consider the implications for instruction.


Instruction will include how students can use the Units of Study checklist to evaluate their own work and set goals.  Two definite areas that we saw for instruction were “leads” and “transitions” so that led our thinking to possibilities for charts.  (I like to “develop” them electronically in order to have a copy with me for reference as I move from building to building.)  Two charts that we are considering as we have students “reflect” on their own writing include:

lead in opinion

The first column in “rising steps of complexity” are examples of opening paragraphs.  The text boxes on the arrows name the student move(s) used.










This second chart is about transition words.  “Because” is tricky when it is used at three different levels.  Is it the only transition word used?  If so, probably not a “3 Star” use of transitions.  Because is a perfect direct link for a reason “why” but has less value as a transition as we move up the steps and through the grade levels.

After students self-assess their own writing, they can set goals and have some model words/text to help them visibly see what their targeted learning looks like.  Visible targets for students?  Increasing the likelihood that students can meet the targets – progressions that “show” students how to write better!

How are you helping your students “see” their writing targets?

10 responses

  1. Fran, I am going to present several workshops on writing this semester and will show your charts giving credit to your work. Thanks.

    1. Carol,
      We’re really working hard (by 4th grade) in “helping students self-assess” as well as “checking own work to see how it matches mentor text” and “setting goals”. These types of charts seem to be helpful for teachers and students!

  2. Love this, Fran. I’m doing on-demand scoring with my teachers next week, and I’ll keep this in mind!

    1. Thanks, Dana! Scoring is such hard work but it’s a different mindset when we approach it from “what can they do” and “what instruction should come next”!

  3. Our students have difficulty with transitions, too! These are great visuals, Fran. Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Thanks, Catherine!
      I had tons of other things to do, but I could not resist taking the time to “create” something useful!!!

  4. Doing this work with personal narratives, Fran – those ladders are such wonderful visible tools for our kids. Thanks for sharing these.

  5. Thanks, Tara! I think “all things visible” are good for students so they can really use and work with the information. . . So love the Units of Study checklists as well! 🙂

  6. It’s nice to be able to show the students where they are, and where they can go!

    1. Thanks, Jennifer. I also like to have the student talk about where he/she thinks his writing is and explain “why”. Tells me so much about the student thinking!

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