Grade Level Writing Expectations - Fourth Grade

Writes Clearly and Effectively


  • Narrows topic and selects relevant details to elaborate
  • Refers to personal experiences and research to clarify, compare, extend, or explain an opinion or idea


  • Uses transitional phrases and sentences to connect episodes, descriptions, explanations, or facts
  • Identifies time and setting and refers to these beyond introductory section when narrating story or event
  • Sections work into paragraphs or chapters based on ideas
  • Identify and begin to use leads
  • Use clear, concluding statements
  • Identify and begin to use transitional sentences to link paragraphs


  • Begin to demonstrate awareness of the audience
  • Recognize and begin to apply voice in writing
  • Begin to write with consistent purpose and point of view

Sentence Fluency

  • Uses conjunctions, ordinals (e.g., first, second, third), and compound sentences
  • Uses a rhyme scheme in a stanza of poetry
  • Varies length and type of sentences, using conjunctions, adjective phrases, and adverb phrases
  • Experiment with sound patterns and figurative language

Word Choice

  • Selects vocabulary suitable for topic, audience, purpose, and purpose
  • Uses similes, metaphors, alliteration, rhyme, and repetition for effect and to develop imagery
Spelling Capitalization Punctuation Grammar & Usage Sentences / Paragraphs
  • Correct spelling of grade-level words
  • Syllabification, word patterns, and letter patterns to spell unusual words
  • Resources to find correct spelling for words identified as misspelled
  • Important words in a title of a book or article (e.g., The Little House on the Prairie.)
  • Correct use of state abbreviations (e.g., WA or CA)
  • Comma to set off titles or initials (e.g., Dr. Smith, M.D.)
  • Colon after greeting in a business letter
  • Comma in complete address (e.g., 12356 7th Ave., Spokane, WA)
  • Comma after an introductory phrase (e.g., After seeing the opera in person, she wished she had read the story.) or clause (e.g., Before she went to the opera, she read the story.")
  • Commas in numbers over 4 digits (e.g., 10,000)
  • Hyphen between syllables at line breaks
  • Single/plural agreement between nouns and modifiers (e.g., one child vs. one children)
  • Correct use of "among" (more than two) vs. "between" (two)
  • Resources cited using a standard bibliographic form
  • Correct use of conjunctions
  • Correct use of prepositions (e.g., in the past, from one to another)
  • Collective nouns (e.g., cache, herd)
  • Correct use of "either...or" and "neither...nor"

Understands and Uses the Writing Process


  • Adjusts writing process for demands of timed writing situations
  • Synthesizes information from more than one resource, especially for informational writing or to respond to a question or prompt
  • Uses notes, lists, free writing, webs, or clusters to record information or ideas at prewriting and/or drafting stages


  • Uses notes, lists, free writing, webs, or clusters to record information or ideas at prewriting and/or drafting stages
  • Drafts independently
  • Develops prewriting ideas by including a main idea, relevant details into sentences, phrases, and thoughts


  • Listens to peers writing and offers thoughtful critique with guidance
  • Accepts and uses feedback on own writing when appropriate


  • Uses more than one word source (including a thesaurus) when revising and editing
  • Seeks input from peers when revising
  • Rereads work several times when revising and editing, and has a focus for each reading


  • Uses more than one word source (including a thesaurus) when revising and editing
  • Rereads work several times when revising and editing, and has a focus for each reading
  • Edits to meet 4th grade standards of conventions
  • Understands and uses standard proofreading marks


  • Publishes longer pieces and attends to format, graphics, and illustrations
  • Writes legibly, especially when an audience is anticipated
  • Publishes in a wider range of forms and modes


  • Identifies strengths and weaknesses of own writing
  • Reflects on strengths of other authors
  • Begins to use self-reflection of work to improve self as a writer
  • Self reflects on pieces selected for portfolio

Addresses Audience, Purpose, and Form

  • Demonstrates awareness of audience and purpose through selection of vocabulary, form, length, organization, and style
  • Distinguishes among different purposes for text (e.g., to respond to questions, to entertain, to inform, to persuade, to request, or to reflect)
  • Shows understanding of more than one purpose within a form (e.g., a letter can be used to inform, request, or persuade)
  • Includes more than one mode within a piece (e.g., descriptive or narrative elements within an expository piece)
  • Selects form to meet requirements of task or content area (e.g., book report or science report)
  • Experiments with different verse forms and rhyme patterns

Suggested Text Forms

  Literature or Literary Forms Informational, Task-oriented, and/or Technical Writing
New to
Grade Level
  • Tall tales
  • Comics
  • Personal essays
  • Book reviews and reports
  • Brochures
  • Procedures (to a game, to make something)
  • Expository essays (explain why, compare/contrast)
  • Expository speeches (explain why)
  • Field notes
  • Newspaper and magazine articles
  • Summaries
  • Business letters to thank or to request
  • Letters to the editor
  • Memos
  • Literary analyses (explain about character, plot)
  • Narrative: experiential stories
  • Narrative: fictional stories
  • Personal letters, cards, and notes
  • Diaries/journals
  • Recounts
  • Rhymes
  • Retellings
  • Poems: patterned poetry, couplet
  • Poems: free verse
  • Plays
  • Biographies and autobiographies
  • Labels
  • Captions
  • Informational sentence
  • Recounts
  • Answers to questions
  • Questions and answers
  • Instructions (explain how to)
  • Learning logs
  • Reports
  • Reviews
  • Posters
  • Directions (to a location)
  • Paraphrase
  • Expository writing (explain about)
  • Expository speeches (explain about)