Assessment Alley: Third Grade Literacy Profile

Writing Strategies, Processes, and Dispositions

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 strategies, processes, and dispositions are closely linked with reading development.  Simply put, this component of literacy involves the general writing process from prewriting to publishing, the thinking tools writers use, and each student's self-efficacy.  By exposing students to a variety of genres and forms through reading and teaching them to "read like writers," we can strengthen students' writing habits and attitudes.  This can lead to the development of the perseverance, commitment, and confidence students need to write well (Biggam 179).

At third grade, these skills include:

         brainstorming and prewriting independently

         developing an understanding  of purpose and audience

         revising for details

         editing for conventions


Elementary Writing Attitude Survey

As with reading, success in writing is also linked to motivation to write, and motivation to write is often dependent on a student's self-perception of his or her writing ability.  Like the Elementary Reading Attitude Survey (ERAS),  the Elementary Writing Survey (EWAS) is also designed to get students to honestly reveal their true feelings about writing. 


The EWAS can assess students' attitudes toward writing.  Administered to individuals or entire classes, the EWAS features 28 statements about writing with four Garfield faces for each statement depicting feelings.  Students read the statement (or listen as the teacher reads) and then circle the angry, mildly upset, slightly happy, or enthusiastic Garfield that matches their feelings about the statement.


A scoring guide and grade-level specific tables are provided with the survey.  By calculating the number of each type of Garfield, teachers can determine which percentile students are in.  Higher percentiles show that students feel more positively about writing.  If a teacher determines that a student has negative feelings toward writing, he or she can implement interventions to improve the student's motivation and engagement.


To view the EWAS and administration materials, click here.


Writing Conference with Self-Assessment for Writing Process and Strategies

Writing conferences typically occur one-on-one between the student and teacher.  During these conferences, teachers ask students about specific areas of their writing they want help with (crafting a stronger lead, creating suspense, choosing powerful words, etc.).  If students do not come with specific needs, then the teacher looks for one area to work on.  The goal is to help students become better writers (not just correcting that one piece of writing) by teaching students processes and strategies to use with all future writing.


Writing independence is an important milestone in third grade.  To successfully transition to more independent writing, students must be aware of their own strengths and needs.  Teachers must help students have a clear idea of where to go next as a writer.  Having students complete self-assessment checklists can be helpful starting points for conferences.


Students select "By Myself,"  "With Help," or "Not Yet" in response to grade level writing goals.  Then, the teacher and student discuss the statements during an individual conference, celebrate their successes, and set goals for the future.  These self-assessments can be readministered (perhaps each nine weeks) to monitor progress.


To view a sample writing process and strategies self-assessment, click here.


Writing research has led educators to seek a balance between teaching children how to use the writing process, teaching children the strategies to use during various stages of the process, and teaching children the skills they need to create a successful piece of writing (Biggam 182).  For most students, a well-planned writer's workshop is more than enough to develop writing skills and foster engagement.  For others, though, individual interventions are needed.

Writing Deadlines

Students who show low motivation to write and/or score poorly on the EWAS often struggle to get started or maintain stamina while writing. Helping students manage writing time by providing specific deadlines may make a difference.


In our classroom, we use a Writing Deadline Calendar to monitor our writing progress.  At the beginning of each unit of study, we create deadlines together for each stage of the writing process.  Each writing workshop starts by reviewing the calendar and our goals.  Students are held accountable to the deadlines (by missing recess or specials to catch up if needed) and work hard to meet them.  Deadlines occur along the stages of the writing process (for example, all discovery drafts are due on a certain day).  For struggling writers, however, these deadlines aren't specific enough and they feel overwhelmed by the amount of writing they need to do.


To help these writers, I breakdown each deadline into smaller steps (often daily).  For example, their goals might include completing specific sections of their writing each day up until the whole class's goal of finishing a discovery draft.  Checking off each small part of the larger goal daily can be very rewarding; moreover, realizing a student is behind before Deadline Day allows time for teachers to intervene before it's too late.


I created a large poster from a blank calendar template.  I laminated this calendar and write dates and deadlines on it with a dry erase marker.  This way, I can use it over and over.  View our Writing Deadline Calendar  for our "Poem a Day" unit here.


Writing Process Roadmap

After evaluating students' self-assessments, important areas of need will become obvious. Some students will need writing interventions in selecting topics whereas others will need help with revision or editing.  For many struggling writers, however, simply managing the writing process is an obstacle.  Creating a writing checklist to help these students remember the steps of the writing process can make a difference.  In our classroom, I post the writing steps on a bulletin board.  As students move through the writing process, they move their "pencil" into an envelope under their writing stage (brainstorming, planning, drafting, etc.).  As students move their pencil, they reread the poster describing the writing stage. I also give students an outline of this process to keep in their writing folder.  For most students, this "writing roadmap" increases writing engagement and stamina.


View our writing bulletin board here.

Last updated: April 16, 2009