Assessment Alley: Third Grade Literacy Profile

Writing Effectiveness

Literacy Profile
What Third Graders Should Know
Phonological Awareness and Oral Language Development
Concepts of Print, Letter Identification, and Text Features
Decoding Skills and Word Analysis
Reading Strategies, Processes, and Dispositions
Reading Accuracy and Fluency at Increasing Text Levels
Comprehension and Reading Response
Writing Strategies, Processes, and Dispositions
Writing Effectiveness
Writing Conventions and Handwriting
Related Resources
Meet the Author


Writing effectiveness includes how well students maintain purpose, develop organization, provide relevant details, and develop personal voice/tone in independent writing.  This component involves writing for a variety of purposes and audiences in multiple text types.

At third grade, these skills include:

         writing narratives with a beginning, middle, and end that include multiple characters, details, and dialogue

         writing procedures with steps, materials, and relevant vocabulary

        writing informational pieces with appropriate organization and relevant details

        writing poetry with simple poetic forms



Writing Rubrics and Checklists

Writing rubrics and checklists are simple ways to assess students' writing.  I prefer to make my own rubrics, tailored to the current minilessons and objectives for our classroom.  I've also found that simple "Yes" or "No" checklists work well for third graders.  At the beginning of each unit, I ask myself what my students are expected to demonstrate in their writing.  I also ask my students what they know "Wonderful Writers" do.  Together, we generate a list.  Then, I add new objectives for the current unit (specific to the genre as well as general writing skills for third grade).  This way, students know how they will be evaluated before they ever begin writing.  We refer to these checklists during all stages of the writing process, not just for their final grade.


Published rubrics are also available.  The Northwest Regional Educational Library advocates using a 6+1 Trait Writing Model.  To view Sample Six Trait writing rubrics, click here, or visit for lessons and activities.



Portfolios are authentic ways to collect student writing and show growth over time. Generally, the teacher and the students select work for these collections. Using reflection sheets that require students to justify including each piece of writing and reflect on their growth as a writer is encouraged.  These reflection sheets encourage students to self-evaluate their work, strengths, needs, and future goals.


View a sample single piece reflection sheet or quarterly reflection sheet here.


In order to close the literacy achievement gap for our striving readers and writers, we need to set realistic goals but also hold our learners to high standards.  While it is realistic to expect all children to write every day, the amount of writing and the levels of support children need may vary widely... In order to really help our striving writers become more capable, effective writers, Graves recommends that we get to know them, really know them, as people (Biggam 215).  Individual writing conferences and minilessons individualized to each specific group of students are not only two strong interventions for struggling writers, but also best practice pedagogy for the whole class as well.


Biggam describes minilessons as effective ways to "identify and discuss specific writing strategies or teach specific writing skills."  Minilessons can take the form of whole class, small group, or even individual instruction.  The teacher selects a writing goal as observed from the students' writing (such as creating a stronger lead or adding details) and then uses authentic writing, modeling, guided practice, and application to teach the objective.  The teacher then monitors students' writing to ensure mastery.  Follow-up conferences can be used to further develop the objective.


View a sample minilesson form here.



Conferences can be used to review or extend whole class minilessons.  Finding a record-keeping system to monitor each student's progress is very important.  I simply use a three-ring binder divided with tabs. Using notebook paper, I write notes about objectives met and current progress immediately after the conference.  Reviewing these notes before the conference can help me be prepared and use my limited one-on-one time effectively.


I recommend reading Carl Anderson's How's It Going? for more writing conference ideas.  You can also view the form I created to use during writing conferences here.

Last updated: April 16, 2009