3rd Grade Writing

Discussion in 'Third Grade' started by ivgotahalo, Sep 1, 2007.

  1. ivgotahalo

    ivgotahalo Rookie

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    Sep 1, 2007

    I just got a great new book for writing that I love. But...Right from the begining it says that 3rd grade should be writing 5 paragaph essays. I taught in a city school for 4 years and had to pull teeth to get 3 paragraphs out of them by the end of the year. I'm now teaching in another school. SHould I expect 5 paragraphs out of third graders?! What are your third graders writing?
     
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  3. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Sep 1, 2007

    Since I am "only" a student teacher, I can honestly not claim expertise on this subject. I can, however, tell you that "my" third graders (who have a range of abilities) are doing GOOD when they write 2 paragraphs that have:
    first lines that are indented
    at least 5 sentences per paragraph, and
    at least 5 words per sentence.

    Who knows, maybe they will be writing those essays by the end of the school year? How much of an optimist does a teacher need to be?
     
  4. Violet

    Violet Rookie

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    Sep 3, 2007


    I taught second grade for two years and I had them write 3 paragraph essays. They needed a lot of guidence but they were able to do it. Maybe you should start with 3 paragraphs and then gradually increase it throughout the year.
     
  5. Mrs.A

    Mrs.A Rookie

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    Sep 3, 2007

    This is my second year in third grade and I can say that I didn't have any students this year or last that started the year even able to write three paragraph essays. In our school, that is the goal for third graders by the end of the year. Our fifth grade is supposed to be able to write five paragraph essays.
     
  6. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    Sep 3, 2007

    My kids write 5 paragraph essays at the end of the year... and it still takes some guidance. My first big writing assignment is 2-3 paragraphs and we build up from there. It is VERY guided in the beginning. I actually have to teach HOW to write a paragraph, so my kids are probably behind according to your scale!

    I guide them through each step. Some easily could write 10 paragraphs with ease, but I have one for whom 1 good paragraph is still a stretch.

    The last school I worked at said- 3 paragraphs 3rd grade, 4 for 4th and 5 for 5th. I don't recall learning a 5 paragraph essay format until probably 7th grade, which shows how much harder we are pushing kids today.

    (My school is suburban with families with lots of books at home, etc. I feel they are typical kids, but all over the map.)
     
  7. sayuri

    sayuri Rookie

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    Sep 8, 2007

    we start with one paragraph then expand out to four or five paragraphs. we use Step Up to Writing combined with the 6 traits. the Step Up has helped me to teach organization. from there, my students were able to write a paragraph. it's still a work in process though!
     
  8. teachu

    teachu Rookie

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    Sep 8, 2007

    Have you seen the Four Square Writing books? They teach students how to write paragraphs using a 4 square organizer. Eventually, it teaches how to make each square into a separate paragraph in addition to an opening paragraph, hence a 5 paragraph essay. It will take all year, but if you use this method, kids will be able to do it.
     
  9. Violet

    Violet Rookie

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    Sep 10, 2007

    I've used the Four Square method as well. I thought it was great! I'm probably going to use it again this year. :)
     
  10. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Sep 10, 2007

    I just learned that I will be using the 4-square method as well.
     
  11. mrsbrown2007

    mrsbrown2007 Rookie

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    Sep 11, 2007

    I'm student teaching in 3rd grade, and I have yet to see an essay with any paragraphs! I haven't "taken over" writing yet, but there is no focus on grammar, paragraphs, punctuation, etc.
    I'm hoping that this will come soon, as we are close to finishing the first month of school.
     
  12. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Sep 11, 2007

    I am also student teaching 3rd grade. I have been told that we will use the 4-square method. Currently, however, we are still trying to get them to:
    Indent the first line of their (one) paragraph,
    use proper punctuation,
    Capitalize the first letter of the first word in each sentence,
    include at least 5 sentences per paragraph,
    include at least 5 words in each sentence,
    and
    NOT begin each sentence with "I went" or It looked like" or "I like", etc. (i.e., make them a little more conversational).

    Oh yeah -- it would be nice if they would spell their words correctly and if they wrote them so that we could read their handwriting too! Aren't we mean?
     
  13. teachu

    teachu Rookie

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    Sep 12, 2007

    Actually it's ok right now not to focus too much on conventions. You want to get the students used to writing everyday and practice coming up with ideas for writing. My students are writing about whatever they want. The rule is that they have to be writing for the entire period. My minilessons are guided toward coming up with a beginning, middle and end for a story. If a student finishes one story, they immediately start writing another one. Stories can be fiction or nonfiction. You can slowly introduce the skills you want them to learn as you go. 5 paragraph essays are hit much harder in the middle grades. Right now, let your students enjoy the writing process and encourage their creativity. Once they are in the habit of writing, you can start focusing on particular kinds of writing and conventions for paragraphs, etc. I'd like to hear other philosophies on teaching writing. What do you all do?
     
  14. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    Sep 12, 2007

    I am much the same. My writer's workshop is 95% student selected topics. They can write what they like. I do mini-lessons on various topics (sentence structure, interesting language, describing setting, etc.) but I don't ask or expect them to go and use that lesson immediately with a prompt or anything that same day. I focus on one skill for several days, and return to it many times over the course of the year. I did a lesson on beginnings yesterday, and today many kids went back and changed their beginnings without my asking. When one child read aloud chapter two of a "book" she is writing, during the comment time, one boy even asked, "can we hear your beginning again?" They check in with one another to see if they are applying the lessons. This is great- but I am mostly interested in them writing as much as they can, on whatever topic interests them. I do maybe 3 large teacher generated projects a year. One book report, one report on something else topical (science or social studies) and one writing piece related to a genre we study, usually memior. They write other things of course, but mostly they write what they want and just enjoy making up stories. We do LOTS of critiquing and I teach the kids about "compliments" and "helpful suggestions." When they begin to respond to one another USING the skills I taught them, that's when I know they are sticking. A child might compliment by saying, "your language was vivid, I liked when..." and I am like WOW, they really are learning... but I don't necessarily see it daily or even weekly. Sometimes the process takes a long time. Writing is like that. They do write daily for 30-40 minutes at a stretch, every day, and they are hopefully writing the whole time... right now we are doing 20, but we will build up throughout the year. I also don't do a mini-lesson every day, because I want to give them time to let it sink in... it seems to work well for me that way. I do one every other day, and then do sharing also, and they seem to get a lot out of both.

    When I hear how many book reports and other reports teachers do on this site, I feel like I'm not doing enough, or that my kids wouldn't keep up with kids in other schools-- but hearing what you said reaffirms my beliefs. Most of my students really do enjoy writing. I had one parent say, "I don't know what your're doing, but if he likes writing, you must be doing something great in there." It made me feel pretty good.
     
  15. teachu

    teachu Rookie

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    Sep 16, 2007

    Sounds like we are a lot alike in our writing philosophies and teaching. Maybe we could share writing minilesson ideas? Where do you find yours? I know it is probably a hodge podge like mine. I have taught some teacher workshops on writing as well, but I am always looking for new ideas.
     

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