Standardized Writing Tests
Q: Our state requires a writing test as part of third grade evaluations. What can I do from home to help my son prepare?
An effective way to have third graders prepare for a standardized writing test is to have them practice organizing paragraphs. A fun way to review paragraph structure is to use colors. The topic and closing sentences in a paragraph tell, in different ways, the subject and purpose of the paragraph. A parent can instruct his/her third grader to think of these sentences as green sentences. They may even have fun coloring or highlighting them green. The supporting sentences in between the topic and closing sentences can alternate between pink and blue. Pink sentences are fact sentences that directly support the topic. Blue sentences are commentary sentences. They can include examples or analysis.
Aim for three pink fact sentences and a blue sentence following each one. Transitional words and phrases can be thought of as yellow. They add some style to the writing and can be scattered throughout a paragraph. They help to make smooth connections between ideas. After writing a paragraph, a third grader can color it accordingly to see if he or she has included all necessary elements of the paragraph (with the correct color pattern). With a little creativity–and coloring–preparing for writing tests can be both fun and effective!
You might also want to consider having your third grader take Time4Writing’s Elementary Paragraph Writing course. This online course, led by a certified writing teacher, will give students a strong foundation in what makes a good paragraph, and will prepare them for the next step of essay writing.