Grade Level Writing Expectations - Third Grade

Writes Clearly and Effectively


  • Increases range of topics, but writing shows preference
  • Maintains more than one character throughout narrative Organization
  • 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


  • Begin to demonstrate awareness of the audience

Sentence Fluency

  • Use a variety of sentence beginnings, lengths, and types
  • Begin to imitate oral fluency in written text

Word Choice

  • Uses adjectives, adverbs, and some similes and metaphors to form imagery or provide detail
  • Develops bank of useful and interesting words and uses these in a range of contexts
  • Selects vocabulary according to topic, audience, purpose
  • Includes more specialized vocabulary in informational writing
  • Uses dialogue to develop character
Spelling Capitalization Punctuation Grammar & Usage Sentences / Paragraphs
  • Correct spelling of high-frequency and grade-level words
  • Some phonetic spelling on other words
  • Resources to find correct spelling for words identified as misspelled
  • Person's title (e.g., President Smith vs. the president)
  • First word inside quotation marks
  • All proper nouns
  • Period after an abbreviation or initial (e.g., Dr. George Scott, M.D.)
  • Comma between the day of the month and the year (e.g., March 2, 2000)
  • Comma between city and state (e.g., Seattle, Washington)
  • Commas in a series (e.g., She bought red socks, white shoes, and a blue dress. OR She bought red socks, white shoes and a blue dress.)
  • Quotation marks in dialogue
  • Apostrophe in possessive nouns (e.g., the dog's house, the dogs' houses)
  • Comma in compound sentences
  • Use of "would have" instead of "would of"
  • Correct pronoun as subject (e.g., "I" rather than "me.")
  • Consistent verb tense
  • Future tense, especially in dialogue
  • No double negatives
  • Correct use of "it's" vs. "its", "your" vs. "you're", "their" vs. "there" vs. "they're", "to" vs. "two" vs. "too"
  • Consistent person
  • No "run-together" sentences (e.g., They went to the store they bought groceries.) or comma splices (e.g., They went to the store, they bought groceries.)
  • No sentence fragments (e.g., Going into town.)
  • Paragraphs are in place and designated using indentation or block format
  • Includes headings, table of contents, and/or captions in final products


Understands and Uses the Writing Process


  • Brainstorms to select ideas and information, sometimes elaborating on these before writing
  • Chooses own topic and/or responds to a prompt
  • Uses prewriting to organize ideas


  • Works for accuracy and detail at draft stage
  • Maintains a log, journal, and/or personal dictionary more consistently
  • Develops prewriting ideas by including a main idea, relevant details into sentences, phrases, and thoughts


  • Offers opinions and advice on peers' writing, often comparing with own
  • Accepts and uses feedback on own writing when appropriate


  • Attends to clarity and audience interest when revising
  • Uses 6-trait or other checklists to reflect and improve upon own writing


  • Edits for spelling, punctuation, tense, and usage
  • Uses more than one reference when editing-including dictionary, books, and simple thesaurus
  • Edits to meet 3rd grade standards of conventions


  • Writes legibly using appropriate formations and links in cursive writing
  • Selects from a variety of publishing options


  • Revisits previous efforts and comments on new learning
  • Uses established 6-trait criteria to reflect on own writing
  • Self reflects on pieces selected for portfolio

Addresses Audience, Purpose, and Form

  • Distinguishes among writing for self, teacher, or wider audience and reflects this awareness of audience in vocabulary and syntax
  • Responds to literature from personal experience and explains viewpoint
  • Gathers information and takes notes as part of prewriting and drafting
  • Shows increasing awareness of purposes and formats in a wider range of forms

Suggested Text Forms

  Literature or Literary Forms Informational, Task-oriented, and/or Technical Writing
New to
Grade Level
  • Poems: free verse
  • Plays
  • Biographies and autobiographies
  • Reports
  • Reviews
  • Posters
  • Directions (to a location)
  • Paraphrase
  • Expository writing (explain about)
  • Expository speeches (explain about)
  • Narrative: experiential stories
  • Narrative: fictional stories
  • Personal letters, cards, and notes
  • Diaries/journals
  • Recounts
  • Rhymes
  • Retellings
  • Poems: patterned poetry, couplet
  • Labels
  • Captions
  • Informational sentence
  • Recounts
  • Answers to questions
  • Questions and answers
  • Instructions (explain how to)
  • Learning logs