• Your Fourth-Grader and Writing

    In fourth grade your child uses the writing process to write different types of writing for a

    variety of purposes and audiences. The writing management tool we use here in fourth

    grade is The Collins Writing Program presents a model for writing-across-thecurriculum

    and writing to learn. Founder Dr. John Collins draws from extensive

    research and twenty years experience working with teachers and students to

    create a practical program that requires students to engage in curriculum content

    as they improve writing, thinking, listening, and speaking skills. In this method

    students use a specific type of formatted paper for each of the five types of

    writing. The five types are , Type One – to capture ideas, Type Two – to respond

    to prompts correctly, Type Three – self editing for FCA’s (focus correction areas),

    Type Four – peer editing for FCA’s, and Type Five – publishing.

    In Your Child's Classroom: Writing for a purpose

    In fourth grade, writing is incorporated across the subject areas. Fourthgraders

    write daily for different purposes and audiences — research papers, summary

    statements, poetry, legends, word problems, essays, responses to literature and more.

    Some of this writing will take place at home for specific assignments; such as Book

    Projects and Immigration Journals.

    Your child will work to master such specific skills as responding to a prompt,

    adding details and elaboration, and using age-appropriate vocabulary when she writes.

    She will practice writing conventions, including punctuation marks, paragraphing and

    verb tenses. She will use these skills as she begins to write dialogues, explanations and

    comparisons at the beginner's level.

    Some of the different types of writing fourth-graders learn:

    Descriptive writing that creates a clear and vivid picture of a person, place or thing

    Expository nonfiction writing that explains an event, concept or idea using facts and


    Narrative writing about an event in a personal way

    Persuasive writing that encourages an audience to share the writer's beliefs, opinions

    or point of view

    The writing process

    Your fourth-grader continues to expand upon what he learned in earlier grades

    about the writing process, including prewriting, drafting, revising, editing and publishing.

    He recognizes that writing is more than putting words on paper and understands that

    writing is not just an end product but a complex process of communication that involves

    many steps. Fourth-graders begin to understand the benefits of the writing process, such

    as organizing their ideas and using their time wisely. Writing using a process also leads

    to more thoughtful and accomplished work. By viewing writing as a multistage process,

    fourth-graders understand that the paper is the product and writing is the process.

    Prewriting This is the first stage of the writing process in which the writer gathers

    information. Prewriting activities may include filling out a graphic organizer, such as

    a cluster map of his thoughts or a Venn diagram comparing two ideas, a drawing,

    free writing or brainstorming. During this stage, the writer should be thinking of whom

    he is writing for or the target audience. The writer should be sure the writing and the

    audience is a good "fit."

    Drafting The writer then develops his topic on paper or the computer. At this stage

    the focus is on the content of the writing and not the mechanics. The writer begins to

    organize his thoughts and develop the structure of the paper. He begins to think about

    the "hook" that will engage the reader and develops a conclusion that ties everything


    Revising Next the writer makes changes to the draft to improve the writing and make

    it clear. This may include additions or deletions, changes in the sentence structure or

    organization. At this stage it is helpful to have input from a peer or the teacher.

    Editing In the editing stage the writer pays attention to mechanics such as spelling,

    punctuation, grammar and handwriting. It is helpful to have a peer or teacher edit the

    work. Students will self edit for the FCA’s (focus correction areas). The teacher will

    pick the FCA’s – some for the whole class to work on and others more individualized.

    You may see a writer’s paper with just the FCA’s corrected and all the other

    convention mistakes ignored. This helps students focus their attention on a specific

    skill and not become overwhelmed with all the mechanics involved in writing.

    Publishing The final draft is then shared with the desired audience, such as

    classmates or parents. Publishing is an important part of the writing process because

    it helps the writer interact with the reader through a finished document. Students

    understand that this is 'my writing at its best. This helps the student transform her

    thinking from a writer to an author. It is important for students to share their work with

    others and reflect on their reactions in order to improve future writing.

    Writers' Workshop Writers' Workshop is a common teaching technique in which your

    child may learn about the writing process. Through mini-lessons, individual conferences

    and teacher modeling, students learn the conventions and mechanics of writing, and

    different types of writing, such as a compare and contrast essay.

    Six Trait Writing Model The Six Trait Writing Model is used to teach writing and is often

    used in conjunction with Writers' Workshop. It breaks down writing performance into

    a manageable group of teachable and assessable skills. This model focuses on the

    following six traits seen in outstanding written works: ideas, organization, voice, word

    choice, fluency and mechanics (the use of grammar, sentence structure, capitalization

    and punctuation). The MCAS composition test is scored on this model.

    Six Traits of Writing

    Writing portfolio Your fourth-grader will keep a writing portfolio, which is a collection of

    her writing that she has selected throughout the year. The portfolio is used to assess

    progress in writing. Pieces that she selects to include should show good use of planning,

    drafting, revising and editing. This portfolio will follow them into middle school. One

    important reason students have portfolios is so they can return to previous writing and

    learn revision skills. This is an important component of the Collins© writing method that

    is used throughout our school.

    Journal Writing Daily journal writing is a common practice in many fourth-grade

    classrooms. Writing in a journal allows the students to write, and not worry about

    grammar and mechanics. The teacher may use writing prompts to help students get

    started or have students do stream-of-consciousness writing in which they write a

    continuous flow of their ideas without punctuation or grammar. Journal writing may also

    be used across subject areas, such as writing about an experiment in a science journal.

    Writing mechanics Writing mechanics — the use of grammar, sentence structure,

    capitalization and punctuation may be taught both in the context of the students' writing

    as well as in individual lessons. Throughout the year, fourth-graders work on developing

    sentence, paragraph and story structure. Your child learns how to write a five-paragraph

    essay, and paragraphs with topic and concluding sentences. She learns that there

    are different types of sentences such as declarative, imperative, exclamatory and

    interrogative, and learns when to use them in her writing.

    Spelling words In fourth grade your child is expected to spell words correctly in final

    drafts. It is common to have weekly spelling lists that the class will be tested on. These

    lists may be from a prescribed spelling program or chosen by the teacher. The words

    may be the most frequently written words such as yesterday and would, or words that

    have similar spelling rules or patterns. Words misspelled in students' writing, words

    related to content areas and words in literature the class is reading may also be included

    on the weekly spelling lists. By fourth grade your child should have transitioned from

    invented spelling — representing sounds with letters — to conventional spelling.

    If your child does not know the correct spelling of a word used in his writing, he is

    expected to look it up in a dictionary, word wall, electronic spell checker when allowed,

    or an online dictionary.

    Testing Many states, including Massachusetts, have standardized writing tests in

    fourth grade. The tests typically consist of questions about writing mechanics such as

    capitalization, punctuation and grammar, and a timed exercise in which students write

    an essay responding to a writing prompt. Students may also be asked to write summary

    statements about passages. Go to the Massachusetts Department of Education at http://

    www.doe.mass.edu/mcas/ for more information on this test.

    By the end of fourth grade you can expect your child to:

    Write a summary that contains the main idea and supporting details

    Write clearly and effectively including using transitional sentences and a theme

    throughout his writing

    Write a structured paragraph with an introductory topic sentence, three supporting

    details and a closing sentence that wraps up the main idea of the paragraph.

    Write a five-paragraph paper

    Use pronouns to refer to proper nouns

    Use apostrophes in contractions

    Spell words with suffixes such as words with the endings -ed , -ing and -tion

    Spell words with prefixes such as ex- , in- and un-

    Spell homonyms within the context of sentences such as, bank (embankment) and

    bank (place where money is kept)

    Spell homophones within the context of sentences such as, sea and see ; one and

    won ; or blew and blue

    Spell vocabulary words that are commonly used in class such as microscope

    Write legibly in cursive

    Use a computer as a writing tool

    Parts of this document have been taken from Miriam Myers, www.GreatSchools.net