Your fourth grader and writing
Step by step, fourth graders acquire the skills required to write well.
By GreatSchools Staff
Fourth graders use writing in almost all of the subjects they study — they'll use their writing skills to tackle research papers, poems, word problems, essays, book reviews, and other academic tasks.
Students should start to refine specific writing skills, learning how to respond to prompts, use details, and master age-appropriate vocabulary words. Kids also need time to practice the conventions of writing, which include punctuation marks, paragraph structure, and verb tenses. Children rely on these conventions as their writing abilities improve.
Fourth graders will learn about the following styles of writing:
- Descriptive writing, which creates a clear and vivid picture of a person, place, or thing
- Expository nonfiction writing, which explains an event or idea using facts and examples
- Narrative writing, which describes an experience in a personal voice
- Persuasive writing, which encourages readers to accept the writer’s beliefs or opinions
The writing process
Fourth graders continue to learn the lessons about writing they began in earlier grades, with a special focus on a writing process that includes prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. Students should recognize that writing is more than just putting words down on paper. Instead of seeing just an end product, kids should see writing as an act of communication that involves a lengthy process.
Wendy Miller, a former North Carolina Teacher of the Year, stresses the importance of that process. “Writing using a process leads to more thoughtful and accomplished work,” says Miller.
Fourth grade teachers should cover these steps:
- Prewriting: Part of the first stage of the writing process, prewriting activities can include drawing, free-writing, brainstorming, or even using a “graphic organizer” like a Venn diagram to compare two ideas. During this stage, the writer should be working to envision a target reader or audience. The writer should feel confident that the writing and the audience are a good fit.
- Drafting: The writer then develops a topic on paper or using a computer. At this stage, the focus is on the content of the writing, not the mechanics. Writers should begin to organize their thoughts and develop the structure of the paper, beginning to think about the "hook" that will engage the reader. Lastly they develop a conclusion that ties everything together.
- Revising: Next the writer makes changes to the draft to improve the writing and make it clear. This may include additions or deletions, or changes in the sentence structure or organization. At this stage, a friend’s or teacher’s input can be especially helpful.
- Editing: In the editing stage, the writer pays careful attention to mechanics, including spelling, punctuation, grammar, and handwriting. It’s helpful to have a peer or teacher edit the work.
- Publishing: The final draft is then shared with the desired audience, which might include classmates or parents. Miller sees the finished product as a crucial step in the process because of its psychological rewards. “Publishing helps the writer interact with the reader through a finished document,” she says. "[When] students understand that this is ‘my writing at its best,’ it helps them transform from writer to author.”