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Elementary Writing Samples, Middle School Writing Examples, Sample Essays February 24, 2011

Two Teacher License

Here is the best collection of sample essays I have come across. A kind teacher up in Oregon who is using “Pattern Based Writing: Quick and Easy Essay” sent me the links. She is thrilled that the number of students scoring high has doubled since using “Pattern Based Writing: Quick and Easy Essay.”

Included are writing samples for grade 3, grade 4, grade 5, grade 6, grade 7, grade 8, and high school. Each grade has student sample essays and scoring commentary.

One nice thing about this collection of sample essays is most every grade contains four different types of writing:

1. Expository sample essays
2. Imaginative sample essays
3. Narrative sample essays
4. Persuasive sample essays (Starts in grade 5)

Another great thing about this collection of elementary writing samples and middle school writing examples is that there are five different scoring levels for each type of writing:

1. Low paper
2. Medium low
3. Medium
4. Medium High
5. High

How to Download Them in an Organized Way

You will want to use an organized system for saving the files. Each grade has 40 separate files. It’s worth it! Here is how I would download them:

  • 1. When you are at the download page, the table below will make more sense. You will see that this is a nifty little system for downloading and organizing the files.
  • 2. First, create a folder on your desktop to save them to.
  • 3. Then, for each file, right click and save or “save target as.”
  • 4. Rename each file with JUST THE NUMBER. (When saving, just type over the original file name with the number.)
  • 5. Go in the order shown below. (All the odd numbers will be student work. All the even numbers will be scoring commentary. For every group of 10, the low numbers will be the low scores and the high numbers will be the high scores.)
High Med. High Medium Med. Low Low
Narrative 09 07 05 03 01
  10 08 06 04 02
Expository 19 17 15 13 11
  20 18 16 14 12
Persuasive 29 27 25 23 21
  30 28 26 24 22
Imaginative 39 37 35 33 31
40 38 36 34 32

Directions: Open up a new browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari etc.) and copy and paste the link into the address bar. (The link starts with at the http://)   I recommend getting samples for the grade you teach, as well as for the grade above it and below it.

• Grade 3 Sample Essays -
• Grade 4 Sample Essays –
• Grade 5 Sample Essays –
• Grade 6 Sample Essays –
• Grade 7 Sample Essays –
• Grade 8 Sample Essays –
• High School Sample Essays -

Ideas for Using the Sample Essays with Students and for Teaching Writing

“Habit #2: Start with the end in mind.”
Stephen R. Covey – The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

• Print out the essays and the commentary. Don’t think about it. Just print it.

• Go through the essays. What are your students doing correctly? What are your students not doing and that they need to be doing? Read the commentary and make a list of skills you want to teach your students. Plan out how you are going to teach those skills.

• Use the scoring guide and go over the essays with your students. Teach your students what scorers are looking for. What makes for a high scoring essay and what makes for a low scoring essay?

• Create rubrics and have students score essays using rubrics they created and understand.

• Compare and contrast the genres and modes of writing. This is a great way to show different types of writing and different styles. You can play the game, “Name the Genre.” What are the elements of the writing genre that you see in the sample essay? How can you tell it is a particular type of writing?

• Have students compare and contrast essays that have different scores. Have students compare and contrast essays with the same score from different grades.

• Have students evaluate the progression of writing expectations from grade to grade.

• Use the low scores to show your students how good their writing is. Use the high scores to show your students where they need to improve.

• Have students edit or build upon one of the sample essays. Take one of the low scoring essays and have your students transform it into a high scoring essay. You can do this with each mode of writing and students will notice both the similarities and the differences across different types of writing.

• Demonstrate how neatness matters. Some of the sample essays are messy. Even a few high scoring ones are messy. It’s easy to illustrate how difficult it can be for a scorer to fairly assess messy writing. (Students will see messy writing and naturally think it is a low scoring paper. Rubrics do help prevent this “snap to judgment” but cannot completely eliminate it.) This also helps illustrate how important rubrics are.

• Demonstrate how all the skills you have been teaching your students can be found in the high scoring writing samples and how all those important skills you have taught them are missing from the low scoring writing samples.

Making it Authentic

There are definitely ways to use these writing samples in ways your students will find engaging. However, sample essays are never as engaging to students as examining their own writing. That being said, it’s one thing to have students read their own writing in front of the class and quite another to place it on the ELMO/projector and have the class use scoring rubrics to evaluate it.

These Oregon writing samples are not a substitute for examining authentic student writing. However, setting the right kind of productive tone for critiquing, analyzing, and evaluating students’ actual writing is a skill unto itself and deserves a separate and complete post.

The short version is — students love to have their writing analyzed and critiqued when:

1. It is done in a safe and supportive environment.

2. Students feel they have actually been taught how to write.

3. Students understand how the writing process works and how it’s applying the WRITING SKILLS that makes writing good. Students have learned that good writing is not some “artistic trait” that a person is either born with or without.

When these three conditions are present, students are willing to endure the short-term discomfort of having their writing evaluated because they know it will take them to the next level. They know the evaluation will be objective and based on actual techniques and strategies.

High Scoring Writing Success

The Oregon teacher who sent the links said the number of student scoring high has doubled since using the “Pattern Based Writing: Quick and Easy Essay” program. She also gave me some ideas on how to add sections addressing each of the four modes of writing that Oregon uses.

I’m sure you have lots to do besides tailoring the program to meet Oregon’s needs; nevertheless I think you will find these writing samples to be a valuable asset.

I thank you for creating this program. It’s working wonders! You have truly made teaching writing fun. The program makes sense to both me and my students.

She gave me some great ideas, and if you are interested in doubling your number of high scoring papers, be sure to check out the writing program on the homepage.

More Elementary and Middle School Writing Samples

Be sure to check out this blog post: “State Writing Assessment Tools and Resources.” It has state writing resources from seventeen states, and there are tons of additional elementary and middle school writing samples.

Note to Visitors from outside the United States – Oregon seems to block IP addresses from countries outside of the US. Sorry, but there is nothing I can do about this. But don’t worry; you are sure find what you are looking for on this page: “State Writing Assessment Tools and Resources.”

John King November 27th, 2012

I was looking for some tips to help my daughter and found your comments to teachers regarding the value of critiquing properly as very good advice that I would like to pass on to my daughter’s teacher. Thank you

You wrote:

The short version is — students love to have their writing analyzed and critiqued when:

1. It is done in a safe and supportive environment.

2. Students feel they have actually been taught how to write.

3. Students understand how the writing process works and how it’s applying the WRITING SKILLS that makes writing good. Students have learned that good writing is not some “artistic trait” that a person is either born with or without.

Joy Ding January 6th, 2014

A very helpful website!

Sher February 23rd, 2014

Thank you, my son needs help with his writing skills. He writes one paragraph and says done. I need him to expand his thinking.

wayne jarvis June 12th, 2014

I have been attempting to download the student writing samples but have had no success.
Can you help.

Paul @ June 14th, 2014

Wayne, I added a couple little sections addressing the issue at the bottom of the post. Hope it helps!

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