STAAR expository essay graphic organizers to help struggling students succeed on the 4th grade writing test.
There are 4 graphic organizers and a final copy page. Note that the Organization Chart and Detail Chart are on the same page.
STAR CHART—The purpose of this chart is to help students find an idea to write about based on the prompt. The 5 points of the star signal for students to come up with 5 different ideas so that they can choose the best one to write about.
ORGANIZATION CHART—This chart helps children see how the paragraphs in their essay will flow. It includes a circle for the central idea, two boxes for topic sentences, and a final circle to restate the central idea.
DETAIL CHART—This chart helps students focus each other their body paragraphs. They write the topic sentence in the top box, then add 3 details about that topic sentence. Finally, they add a personal connection to go with each topic sentence.
ROUGH DRAFT CHART—This chart helps students visualize the structure of the essay. There are up to 4 lines for a hook and to state the central idea in the introduction paragraph, there are 9 lines for each of two body paragraphs, and there are 4 lines to restate the central idea and leave the reader with a good feeling in the conclusion.
FINAL COPY—The final copy page is purposefully formatted like the STAAR writing paper. There are 26 lines. After revising and editing their rough draft, students write the final copy on this page.
*If your special education or 504 students are allowed supplemental aids on the STAAR writing test, they must be blank. I have included blank copies of all organizers with words and pictures removed. Be sure to check with your administration prior to providing this accommodation and be sure that it is documented in the student's paperwork.
*A teacher's guide is included that explains the process and how to use the organizers. Photos of the organizers in use are also included.
*Download the preview to try before you buy to make sure this product meets your needs. The preview includes the full product, however it is watermarked and there are 4 pages tiled on each page. The full download is a PDF document that includes 17 pages.
The purpose of this set of graphic organizers is to help all students be successful on the 4th grade STAAR writing test by breaking the process down into manageable chunks. The organizers can be used with all students, but they were specifically created for struggling writers to provide a visual process and clear structure for students to follow as they write. This makes the task of writing to a prompt manageable. As students work with the graphic organizers each time they write an essay, they begin to internalize the process. Eventually they will be able to create the organizers on their own as they prepare to ace the test! Struggling students who successfully work through the organizers to create an essay can usually score a 2. To bump your students to 3s and 4s, you will need to teach additional lessons on elaboration, powerful language, and conventions.
SUGGESTIONS FOR USING THIS PRODUCT
*Model each step of the process. Before asking students to complete a task, show them how to do it. Continue to do this every time you write a new essay. They need to see how the writing process works in action.
*Make an anchor chart to show how to use the organizers sequentially through the writing process. Display this in the room so that students know what is coming next.
*The graphic organizers work for any expository prompt, so make lots of blank copies for students to use as they work through the process. Keep them in a location for students to access.
*Organizers WITHOUT words and pictures are included so that students who qualify for accommodations on the STAAR test can use the organizers on district benchmarks and on test day. Note that this must be part of a child’s special education or 504 paperwork for use on the test. Always check with your administrators and the test manual for specific information regarding supplemental aides.
*Eventually students will be able to create the charts on their own on scratch paper because they can not use the graphic organizers on the test. The Star Chart, Organization Chart, and Detail Chart are easy to create. For the Rough Draft page, I teach students to draw a line 4 lines down from the top and 4 lines up from the bottom. They will use these for an introduction and conclusion. Then, I teach them to divide the middle in half for their two body paragraphs.
*During the first few times you work through the writing process, expect it to take about two weeks finish an essay through all steps. After about 3-4 times through the cycle, students will become more independent. You can then begin working through the process in a week, and move towards working through the process in only a day. Don’t rush this. Students need mini-lessons and support along the way. Don’t think of it as “it takes two weeks to write an essay” because they aren’t only writing during that time. There are lots of lessons happening to improve their writing!
LESSON PLAN (for the first few weeks)
*DAY 1 STAR CHART—Present a prompt to students and model using the Star Chart. Write the topic of the prompt in the star and list writing topics that respond to the prompt around the star. I tell students that the star has 5 points and that they should stretch themselves to come up with 5 possible writing topics. Model this with your own writing and give them time to talk with a partner about things they could write about as they complete the Star Chart. Use the last 5 minutes of class to share ideas students recorded either as a class or in small groups. (40 minutes)
*DAY 2 ORGANIZATION CHART—Model choosing an idea from your Star Chart to use for writing today. I usually talk about each idea on my Star Chart and think aloud about topic sentences I could write about those ideas. For example, if the prompt was about a special person, I might have 5 people listed. I could talk about a few of the people on my personal Star Chart and two topics about each person that make them special to me. Give students time to do this with a partner. Then, have them circle the idea on their Star Chart that they want to write about. Using an idea from your Star Chart, write a central idea sentence, two topic sentences, then restate your central idea in the circles and boxes of the Organization Chart. Have students do the same while working with a partner to share ideas. Use the last 5 minutes of class to have students share their Organization Charts with the class or in small groups. (40 minutes)
*DAY 3 DETAIL CHART—Model using the topic sentences from your Organization Chart to add details on your Detail Chart. Write the topic sentences in the boxes, then list details related to each topic sentence. Try to come up with a personal connection or experience for each topic sentence. This helps give the essay a personal touch! Have students write their topic sentences in the Detail Charts, then talk with a friend as they add details to each box. Use the last 5 minutes of class to have students share their Detail Charts with the class or in small groups. (40 minutes)
*DAYS 4 & 5 ROUGH DRAFT—Model using ideas from the Organization Chart and Detail Chart to write the rough draft. This will take a few days. Use this time to model and teach mini-lessons that improve writing such as using transition words, prepositional phrases, hooks and conclusions, elaboration, including adjectives and adverbs, etc. Refer to your school’s curriculum for resources on helping students develop their rough drafts. The organizer is the frame for the writing at this point, but you will need to supplement with lessons to help your writers grow. Conference with students to make sure they are following the structure, staying on topic, using their charts as a guide when they write their drafts, etc. They need lots of support at this point. (80 minutes)
*DAYS 6 & 7 REVISE AND EDIT—Refer to your school’s curriculum for support with revising and editing. I use ARMS for revising which stands for Add, Remove, Move, Substitute and CUPS for editing which stands for Capitalization, Usage, Punctuation, and Spelling. Model this process and teach students to work cooperatively with a writing partner. (80 minutes)
*DAY 8 FINAL COPY—Model taking information from the Rough Draft page to the Final Copy page. I teach my students to indent for each paragraph but NOT to skip lines. Then, give students time to write. Before they are allowed to turn the final copy in, I ask them to take a short break before going back one more time to read their work and fix silly mistakes. (40 minutes)
4.18 Writing/Expository and Procedural Texts. Students write expository and procedural or work-related texts to communicate ideas and information to specific audiences for specific purposes. Students are expected to:
(A) create brief compositions that:
(i) establish a central idea in a topic sentence;
(ii) include supporting sentences with simple facts, details, and explanations; and
(iii) contain a concluding statement.
As a Texas teacher, the products I make are designed around the standards for the state of Texas, known as the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and are carefully crafted to help students be successful on the Texas STAAR test. I use the challenge of the TEKS and released STAAR assessments as models to guide me when putting together lessons and materials for students. Thus, I am careful to post products that, in my judgment, address those standards. I am not affiliated in any way with these entities and any and all claims of alignment are my claims, not those of the groups behind the TEKS or STAAR test. Please contact me if you have questions.