Fourth Grade Writing Standards
Writing standards for fourth grade define the knowledge and skills needed for writing proficiency at this grade level. By understanding 4th grade writing standards, parents can be more effective in helping their children meet grade level expectations.
What is 4th Grade Writing?
In grade 4, students spend significant blocks of time engaged in writing independently. Now that they are more familiar with the writing process, fourth-graders are able to select a focus, an organizational structure, and a point of view. They will learn to base these choices upon the purpose of, audience for, and length of the assignment. Their writing takes on style and voice. Writing is assigned in all subject areas, and by the end of fourth grade, students should be able to write clearly and effectively including using complete paragraphs, transitional sentences, and a theme throughout the composition. Fourth grade students learn how to write a five-paragraph essay and continue to expand upon their knowledge of grammar, spelling, and mechanics, as well as how to evaluate writing and conduct research.
Browse Standards-Based Elementary Writing Courses
The following writing standards represent what states* typically specify as fourth grade benchmarks in writing proficiency:
Grade 4: Writing Strategies
Fourth grade writing standards focus on the writing process as the primary tool to help children become independent writers. In Grade 4, students are taught to use each phase of the process as follows:
- Prewriting: In Grade 4, students generate ideas for writing by using prewriting techniques, such as brainstorming, graphic organizers, notes, and logs.
- Drafting: In fourth grade, students develop drafts by categorizing ideas, organizing them into paragraphs, and blending paragraphs within larger units of text. In the first paragraph, students establish a central idea with a topic sentence and spark interest through the use of quotations, questions, or descriptions. Subsequent paragraphs provide supporting detail that shows an understanding of facts and/or opinions. Compositions conclude with a paragraph that summarizes the points.
- Revising: Students revise selected drafts by adding, elaborating, deleting, combining, and rearranging text. Students aim to improve coherence, progression, logical support of ideas, and voice (formal or informal). Students revise with the goal of creating precision and interest by expressing ideas vividly through language techniques (e.g., imagery, simile, metaphor, sensory language).
- Editing: Students edit their writing based on their knowledge of grammar and usage, spelling, punctuation, and other features of polished writing, such as varied sentence structure and appropriate word choice. Students also proofread using reference materials and other resources.
- Publishing: Students refine selected pieces frequently to “publish” for intended audiences. Correct spacing and design are used to enhance the appearance of the document and graphics are added where appropriate.
Use of technology: Fourth grade students use available technology to support aspects of creating, revising, editing, and publishing texts in various forms. Students demonstrate basic keyboarding skills and familiarity with computer terminology.
Grade 4: Writing Purposes
In 4th grade writing lessons, students write to express, discover, record, develop, reflect on ideas, and to problem solve. Fourth grade students are able to select and use different forms of writing for specific purposes such as to inform, persuade, or entertain. Specifically, fourth grade writing standards stipulate that students write in the following forms:
- Narrative: Students write narratives based on real or imagined ideas, events, or observations that include characters, setting, plot, sensory details, a logical sequence of events, and a context to enable the reader to imagine the world of the event or experience.
- Informational/Expository: Students write to inform, such as to explain, describe, and report. Writing tasks may include summaries, procedures, recipes, instructions, how-to manuals, observations, notes, lists, charts, map labels, and directions
- Persuasive: Students write to influence, such as to persuade, argue, and request. Grade 4 persuasive essays should establish a controlling idea, develop supporting arguments, provide detailed evidence, and include persuasive techniques (e.g., word choice, repetition, emotional appeal).
- Personal Communications: In fourth grade, students write friendly letters, thank-you notes, formal letters, messages, and invitations that have a clearly stated purpose and that include the date, proper salutation, body, closing and signature.
- Creative: Students write to entertain, such as to compose humorous poems, short stories, skits, song lyrics) that employ figurative language (e.g., simile, metaphor, onomatopoeia, personification), rhythm, dialogue, characterization, plot, and/or appropriate format.
- Responses to Literature: Fourth grade students demonstrate an understanding of the literary work and support judgments through references to both the text and prior knowledge.
In addition, fourth graders work to exhibit an identifiable voice in personal narratives and in stories. They choose the appropriate form for their own purpose for writing, including journals, letters, reviews, poems, and narratives.
Grade 4: Writing Evaluation
Fourth grade students learn to respond constructively to others’ writing and determine if their own writing achieves its purposes. In Grade 4, students also apply criteria to evaluate writing and analyze published examples as models for writing. Writing standards recommend that each student keep and review a collection of his/her own written work to determine its strengths and weaknesses and to set goals as a writer.
Grade 4: Written English Language Conventions
Students in fourth grade write with more complex sentences, capitalization, and punctuation. In particular, fourth grade writing standards specify these key markers of proficiency:
- Write in complete sentences, varying the types, such as compound and complex to match meanings and purposes.
- Combine short, related sentences with appositives, participial phrases, adjectives, adverbs, and prepositional phrases.
- Correctly employ Standard English usage, including subject-verb agreement, pronoun referents, and parts of speech.
- Identify and use regular and irregular verbs, and present and past verb tenses.
- Use regular and irregular plurals correctly.
- Use adjectives (comparative and superlative forms) and adverbs appropriately to make writing vivid or precise.
- Use prepositional phrases to elaborate written ideas.
- Use conjunctions to connect ideas meaningfully.
- Write with increasing accuracy when using objective case pronouns such as “Dan cooked for you and me.”
- Punctuate correctly to clarify and enhance meaning, including commas in a series, commas in direct address, colons, quotation marks in dialogue, parentheses, and sentence punctuation.
- Write with increasing accuracy when using apostrophes in contractions such as it’s and possessives such as Jan’s.
- Use underlining, quotation marks, or italics to identify titles of documents.
- Capitalize proper nouns, including titles used with someone’s name, initials, and words used as names (e.g., Uncle Jim, Mom, Dad, Jr.).
- Capitalize names of magazines, newspapers, works of art, musical compositions, organizations, and the first word in quotations when appropriate.
- Use spelling rules and write with accurate spelling of roots such as drink,speak, read, or happy, inflections such as those that change tense or number, suffixes such as -able or -less, and prefixes such as re- or un.
- Understand spelling patterns and generalizations and write with accurate spelling of syllable constructions, including closed, open, consonant before -le, and syllable boundary patterns.
- Use resources to find correct spelling and spell correctly in final drafts.
- Write fluidly and legibly in cursive or manuscript as appropriate.
Grade 4: Research and Inquiry
In fourth grade, students select and use reference materials and resources as needed for writing, revising, and editing final drafts. Students learn how to gather information systematically and use writing as a tool for research and inquiry in the following ways:
- Frame questions for research. Evaluate own research and raise new questions for further investigation.
- Organize prior knowledge about a topic in a variety of ways, such as by producing a graphic organizer.
- Use various reference materials (e.g., dictionary, thesaurus, card catalog, encyclopedia, online information) as an aid to writing a .
- Understand the organization of almanacs, newspapers, and periodicals and how to use organizational features of references (e.g., prefaces, appendixes).
- Take notes, summarize and organize ideas gained from multiple sources in useful ways such as outlines, conceptual maps, learning logs, and timelines.
- Draw from more than one source of information (e.g., guest speakers, books, and other media sources). Quote or paraphrase information sources, citing them appropriately.
4th Grade Writing Tests
In many states, standardized writing assessment begins in the fourth grade. Students will be given questions about grammar and mechanics, as well as a timed writing exercise. In the exercise, they will usually be asked to respond to writing prompts for 4th grade level. Another type of question asks students to write a summary statement in response to a reading passage. In addition, fourth-graders are evaluated by their writing portfolios and classroom-based writing tests.
Most state writing assessments are correlated to state writing standards. These standards-based tests measure what students know in relation to what they’ve been taught. Educators consider standards-based tests to be the most useful as these tests show how individual students are meeting grade-level expectations. Teachers use the assessments to pinpoint where each student needs improvement. State departments of education often include information on writing standards and writing assessments on their websites, including sample questions.
Writing Test Preparation
The best 4th grade writing activity to prepare for testing is simply encouraging your child to write, raising awareness of the written word, and offering guidance on writing homework. For example, you can talk about the different purposes of writing as you encounter them, such as those of letters, recipes, grocery lists, instructions, and menus. By becoming familiar with fourth grade writing standards, parents can offer more constructive homework support. Remember, the best writing help for kids is not to correct their essays, but offer positive feedback that prompts them use the strategies of the writing process to revise their own work.
Time4Writing Online Writing Courses Support 4th Grade Writing Standards
Time4Writing is an excellent complement to fourth grade writing curriculum. Developed by classroom teachers, Time4Writing targets the fundamentals of writing. Students build writing skills and deepen their understanding of the writing process by working on standards-based, grade-appropriate writing tasks under the individual guidance of a certified teacher.
Writing on a computer inspires many students, even reluctant writers. Learn more about Time4Writing online courses for fourth grade.
For more information about general learning objectives for fourth grade students including math and language arts, please visit Time4Learning.com.
*K-12 writing standards are defined by each state. Time4Writing relies on a representative sampling of state writing standards, notably from Florida, Texas, and California, as well as on the standards published by nationally recognized education organizations, such as the National Council of Teachers of English and the International Reading Association.
You’ve been exploring the writing standards for fourth grade. To view the writing standards for other grade levels, use one of the following links:
From Theory to Practice
What do students need to know to succeed in fourth grade (or third or fifth)? What supplies are needed? What rules and steps should be followed? These and many other questions provide the framework for students to write how-to essays for a specific audiencefuture fourth graders. Although this lesson focuses specifically on fourth grade, it can be easily adapted for third or fifth graders. Students first learn about the how-to writing genre by reading an assortment of instruction manuals. This also demonstrates how how-to writing relates to their everyday lives. The teacher then models each step of the writing process as the students write about how to be successful fourth graders. After students publish their writing, the final drafts are saved for the following year's fourth graders to read at the beginning of the next school year.
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- Power Proofreading: Students can use this interactive site to complete activities to build their proofreading skills.
- Essay Map: Using this interactive site, students can organize the information they will include in their essay.
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FROM THEORY TO PRACTICE
Huntley-Johnston, L., Merritt, S.P., & Huffman, L.E. (1997). How to do how-to books: Real life writing in the classroom. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 41(3), 172179.
- Students need to understand that there are purposes for writing other than for the teacher to read and grade it. Writing how-to essays has been found to be a successful alternative to the traditional research paper or teacher-based essay.
- How-to writing is a genre that appeals to most students because it is applicable in the world. This genre involves exploring interests and needs to identify a topic, conducting several research methods, and working through the writing process.
- When students' writing has an authentic audience beyond the classroom teacher, they can see a direct connection between their lives and their literacy development.
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