Examining Expository Writing Assessments: Looking at Sample Writing

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SWBAT use a checklist to analyze student writing samples.

Big Idea

Students preview writing samples and the tools used in order to prepare for completing the assessment.


5 minutes

After studying the elements of a narrative writing assessment, students are switching focus to the expository writing assessment. The process is very similar to the narrative writing assessment study.

For this lesson, students review the checklist used to guide their expository writing assessment and the rubric used to score the writing on a scale from one to four. They are also given samples of writing from fourth grade students and analyze them based on the checklist in order to get an idea of how the assessment might be similar for them.

Main Activity

20 minutes

After I read through the checklist and rubric, I answer any clarifying questions. I also asked students to identify the elements that are different between the narrative writing assessment and the expository writing assessment. The organizational structure is the main difference. Narrative writin has characters, setting, plot and is written with a beginning, middle, and end. An Expository piece has main ideas support by details and has an introduction and conclusion.

I model how to analyze a writing sample using the checklist by reading the sample first out loud then checking off (or not) each item on the checklist as I identify them in the sample. If there are items that I want to emphasize or after about 2/3 of the checklist, I will ask the class if they think the sample show evidence of those items. This serves as guided practice.

Student then receive a sample that is different than the one I used with a checklist that is double sided for students who finish quickly and need another sample. Students read through the story, use the checklist as I modeled it, and then make a prediction for the score from one to four.

Because they are working in groups, I except there to be some conversation aroudn specific items on the checklist. They are encouraged to speak up when they disagree and to always support their opinion with evidence from the sample.


10 minutes

Once students have finished reading, using the checklist and predicting the score, I reveal the actual score the samples received. I ask students to put up their hands with the number of fingers representing the score. Then I show them the actual score. If the score was very different from what the majority of the class predicted, I spend more time explaining why the sample received that score, emphasizing the importance of following directions and using the checklist. 

If there is time, I show an example between a low score and a passing score and ask students to identify the differences between the two.

At the end, I reiterate the importance of using the checklist to make sure they have met all of the expectations of the assessment when they are writing their own piece.