As students move into upper elementary grades, they start working on text-based writing (or text-dependent analysis). Students transition from writing fun stories in the lower elementary grades to composing informational writing pieces with text evidence in the upper elementary grades. If you teach 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade, then you know that guiding our students on how to properly compose a text-based essay can be a labor of love!
Writing Construction Activity Pack
Help your students navigate text-based writing with these fun, hands-on writing centers! Review types of prompts, parts of an essay, transition words, topic sentences, text evidence & elboration, and much more!
How to Support Students with Text-Based Writing
Whether you’re preparing your students for the FSA Writing Test or they just need extra practice with text-based writing, you may be looking for some tips & ideas. Check out some ways I supported my students when I taught 4th grade writing!
Dissect the Writing Prompt
Teach students that they can identify specific keywords in the prompt to help them understand whether the prompt is informative or opinion. As they practice, ask students to circle important words in the prompt and underline the main question that is being asked.
You can also have students read the prompt before they read the text and then again after they read the text. Rereading the prompt allows students to read with a purpose, while also allowing them to find the information they are looking for more easily.
Opinion Vs. Informational Writing
To give students extra practice with this, consider using an Opinion vs. Informative Writing Prompts activity. Students will read short prompts and determine if the prompts are opinion or informative in nature. Once students decide, they will sort it under the correct prompt heading. This activity can be used whole group or in writing centers.
Identify Evidence Within the Text
Citing Text Evidence Freebie
Do your students need practice with citing text evidence? This FREE graphic organizer & evidence-based terms list will help guide students as they answer text-dependent prompts.
Once students understand what the writing prompt is asking, they’ll look for evidence in the text that they can use to support their response. As students read, ask them to highlight or underline details that will support their response.
Text Evidence Vs. Elaboration
In the upper elementary grades, students are also elaborating on the evidence.
How does this evidence support their writing?
Why did they include this piece of evidence?
How does this help prove their point?
How does this evidence support their prior knowledge?
These Evidence or Elaboration Task Cards will have students sort paragraphs based on whether they are text evidence statements or elaboration statements. Visualizing the examples for evidence and elaboration will help students with their own elaborations when writing!
Review the Parts of Writing an Essay
Another component of text-based writing is understanding the structure of an essay. Modeling the different parts of a writing piece such as introduction, key ideas, and a conclusion is so important!
Complete Guided Writing Activities
During writing crunch time, we focused on one specific part of an essay each week. For example, on week one we focused on writing a strong introduction, and on week two, we focused on creating a strong supporting paragraph with details and text evidence.
We worked on ‘Guided Writing’ activities where I wrote on a large anchor chart as students pitched ideas. This is a great way to model writing when working with upper elementary students.
‘Piece it Together’ Puzzle Activity
This Piece it Together activity allows students to visualize and get hands-on with the parts of an essay. Cut up the sentence strips and place them inside a bag. Students will pull out all of the sentence strips and organize them into the parts of a text-based essay. This is a great group activity that 4th-5th grade students can complete during writing centers.
Creating a Topic Sentence for the Essay
A topic sentence tells the reader what they will be reading about. It also engages the reader and gets them excited about what’s to come. Teaching students how to create a powerful topic sentence and add an engaging hook to start their writing is an important part of writing instruction.
In this What’s the Topic Sentence? Activity, students will read short introductory paragraphs and determine the main idea. Then, students will create their own topic sentence to add to the paragraph. This activity gives students practice with creating strong topic sentences while also providing them a refresher on main idea.
Use Transition Words
Transition words help connect ideas and are a part of any well-written essay.
This Transitioning Through Writing activity is always an exciting way to give students practice with properly using transition words. Provide students with a cloze paragraph (a paragraph with words missing) along with transition word cards on little saw images. Students will place the correct transition word card into the text; this gives them the ability to manipulate and move around the transition word cards. Have students complete this in groups or as an independent activity.
Adding Voice to Text-Based Writing
I love teaching my students how to add voice to their writing. Incorporating figurative language is a great way to do just that!
With this Adding Voice Through Figurative Language activity students will work on adding figurative language to enhance their writing. For this activity, students will be given a short sentence. Students will change the sentence to incorporate key figurative language types such as simile, metaphor, and/or hyperbole. Students will enjoy watching as ordinary sentences come to life once a little figurative language is added.
Expanding Sentences & Adding Details
Struggling to get your students to create detailed sentences?
This Improving Sentences activity is perfect for getting students to add details to their sentences and elaborate on their ideas. Students will be given short sentences to add more detail to. They will rewrite the sentences by adding adjectives and adverbs.
This Writing Construction Activity pack includes many more activities to help support your students with 4th and 5th grade writing skills. Click here to see everything that’s included and get started setting up your writing centers!
Looking to take writing practice to the next level? Consider setting up a writing classroom transformation for your students! This construction-themed writing idea works perfectly with the writing test prep activities mentioned in this post!
Want to set up a writing corner in your classroom? Learn more about setting up a practical writing space in your room!
Whether you’re preparing students for the upcoming state writing test or just working on improving their overall writing, I hope that these text-based writing activities help you support students!