Examples Of Opinion Essays For 4th Graders

In fourth grade, students are starting to prepare for middle school, when nonfiction writing is practiced in all subjects. What’s more, under the Common Core Standards, nonfiction writing is more and more essential to the curriculum. Learn more about your fourth grader’s writing under Common Core. According to the standards, students should be learning three types of writing:

Informative/explanatory writing

Like a report, the purpose of this type of writing is to convey information accurately with facts, details, and supportive information.


These can be stories or screenplays or other fiction written in the first, second, or third person.

Opinion pieces

In opinion writing, students encourage readers to accept their opinion about something by writing what they and why.

Fourth grade writing sample #1

John Cabot and the Rediscovery of North America

In this child’s report on John Cabot, you’ll see a few important features. First, there are five sections, each with a bolded header announcing what sort of information follows. Note that the fifth section is the bibliography, where everyone can see the two sources this student relied on for her information.

Type of writing: Informative/explanatory writing


Fourth grade writing sample #2

Big Book of Evolution

Dylan’s report on evolution is also divided into sections. Note that Dylan uses visuals throughout this report. What’s more, the report has a table of contents at the beginning, and at the end, Dylan cites his sources for the written information and the visuals.

Type of writing: Informative/explanatory writing


Fourth grade writing sample #3

A Tale of Despereaux

This is a classic fourth grade book report. Note that the student uses headers to announce what type of information follows: the summary, the characters, and the writer’s recommendation about the book.

Type of writing: Informative/explanatory writing


Fourth grade writing sample #4

Zoos Should Close

This student writes an opinion piece about why she thinks zoos should close. Note that she cites multiple reasons with examples of why zoos aren’t good for animals. She also addresses a counterargument and refutes it, which isn’t actually required until seventh and eighth grade.

Type of writing: Opinion writing


See more examples of real kids’ writing in different grades: Kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, fifth grade.

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We’re heading into the final days of my 20 days of opinion writing series with a focus today on using student work samples. As you progress through your writing curriculum, be on the look-out for excellent examples of student writing. An “excellent” example, however, doesn’t necessarily mean a 4- or 5-point paper. You want to find student writing that clearly demonstrates characteristics at each of the possible score points along your scoring guide continuum.

Saving Student Work Samples

As you can see in the photo above, I selected one student sample that I thought best represented each of the five score points in the writing scoring guide. After covering up the authors’ names to conceal their identities, I made copies of the original essays and then laminated them for durability. These samples were then posted directly below the scoring point chart that they best represented. Sometimes it’s just easier for students to see an example when faced with a long list of scoring criteria no matter how “kid-friendly” it is written. I plan to store these samples and pull them out in subsequent years. Of course, I’m always looking for good work sample candidates so these will by no means be the only writings that I will save for future reference.

Here you see the 5-point scoring chart listing specific criteria for different categories of writing. Posted directly below is the student work sample that best demonstrates these criteria.

Another Use for Work Samples

If you have time for it, here’s another great use of student writing work samples. After I had collected one student writing that represented each score point, I typed them and formatted them in our final copy paper template. I did this to make them even more anonymous and with an identical format, kids could focus more on the craft and content instead of the visual presentation.

Student work samples can be used to help kids better understand the scoring guide used with opinion writing.

Make copies of the papers – either one for the entire class per day or just a few of each for small groups of students. Ask the students to read and compare the writings to the scoring guide. Can they figure out what score point each paper represents? Ask students to use highlighters or colored pencils to mark up the text with examples of various scoring criteria as they find it. For example, if there is a simile in the writing then this might indicate a 5-point paper because use of figurative language is shown in this score point. This type of activity really helps cement the scoring criteria in students’ minds so if possible it’s best to do this early in your writing unit. If you haven’t already downloaded it, you can get a a free copy of one week’s prompt from my opinion writing unit by clicking on the link below. I’m also including the student work samples featured in today’s post. Happy Teaching! ~ Sally

Filed Under: WritingTagged With: assessment, assessment capable learner, opinion writing, rubrics, scoring guides, student work samples

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