The Printable KISS Grammar Books

The Writing of Sixth Graders
from the 2000-2001 Pennsylvania State Standards

     There are many things that can be done with a set of samples of students' writing, especially evaluated sets taken state Departments of Education. 

Contents of this Page:

Entire Samples for Analysis Exercises
Construction-Focused Exercises
Evaluating the Overall Writing
Writing Exercises
Statistical Analysis of Their Own Writing

Entire Samples for Analysis Exercises

     You can use the edited versions of these samples for analysis exercises. Because they will be analyzing the writing of their peers, many students may find these exercises more interesting than the analysis of professional prose. (Note that I have numbered the paragraphs so that you can easily do a paragraph at a time.) You can also use the unedited versions as editing exercises. For example, put an unedited version on an overhead and correct the errors with a washable ink pen as students point out corrections.
     The samples in this collection were assessed for one of five "domains." The links on the domain names lead to the criteria for each domain. 
Title
(Link to unedited version)
Edited AK Other Page
Scan(s)
Focus
"Wrestling" S01 Ex S01 AK - 6 - 7
"Dad and the Bear" S02 Ex S02 AK 8 - 9
"A Canceled T.V. Show" S03 Ex S03_AK - 10
"The Lost Path" S04 Ex S04 AK - 11
"7th Heaven" S05 Ex S05 AK - 12 - 13 G6 L5.7
"My Bravery" S06 Ex S06 AK - 14
"The Disney Shows" S07 Ex S07 AK - 15
"A Broken Collar Bone" S08 Ex S08 AK - 16
Content
"The Rescue of Buddy" S09 Ex S09 AK 18 - 19
"Pokémon" S10 Ex S10 AK - 20
"Smart Guy" S11 Ex S11 AK - 21
"New Babies" S12 Ex S12 AK - 22
Organization
"Boy Meets World" S13 Ex S13 AK - 24 - 25
"Stopping Hampton" S14 Ex S14 AK - 26
"The Fire" S15 Ex S15 AK 27
"Golden Girls and Full House" S16 Ex S16 AK - 28
Style
"Kar's Cancer" S17 Ex S17 AK - 30 - 31
"Treed by a Bear" S18 Ex S18 AK - 32
"Brotherly Love" S19 Ex S19 AK - 33
"Horse Sense" S20 Ex S20 AK - 34 G6 L1.1
Conventions
"The High Dive" S21 Ex S21 AK - 36 - 37 G6; IG6 L4 M
"The First Day of School" S22 Ex S22 AK - 38 - 39
"Children's Hospital" S23 Ex S23 AK - 40 - 41
"The Summer of 2000" S24 Ex S24 AK - 42
"No Backpack to School" S25 Ex S25 AK - 43
"Growing Wings" S26 Ex S26 AK - 44
"Your Children Need" S27 Ex S27 AK - 45
"My Family" S28 Ex S28 AK - 46
"Easter Vacation" S29 Ex S29 AK - 47

Construction-Focused Exercises
Based on this Set of Writing Samples

L1.3 Mixed Complements AK G6 L1.3
L3.1.1 Compound Main Clauses AK G6 L3.1.1
L3.1.2 Mixed Subordinate Clauses AK G6 L3.1.2
L3.1.2 Rewriting Subordinate as Main & Main as Subordinate  AK G6; IG 6 L3.1.2
L3.1.2 Subordinate (Noun) Clauses as Direct Objects AK G6 L3.1.2
L3.1.2 Adverbial Subordinate Clauses AK G6 L3.1.2
L3.1.2 Rewriting Adverbial Clauses as Main & Main as Adverbial AK G6 L3.1.2
L3.1.2 Adjectival Subordinate Clauses AK G6 L3.1.2
L3.1.3 Embedded Subordinate Clauses AK G6; IG 6 L3.1.3
L4. Mixed Verbals AK G6; IG6 L4

Evaluating the Overall Writing

     For this set of samples, the Pennsylvania DoE provided one or more evaluated samples for each of the following "domains," for each of two writing prompts. 

Prompt One Prompt Two
Although each sample was officially evaluated for only one domain, you can have your students study the criteria for each domain and then read and evaluate each of the sample essays. Class discussion of their evaluations is, of course, most instructive.

Click here for the Scoring Guide

Writing Exercises

     You can have your students use the prompts for their own writing, or you can have your students write a comparison of two of the essays. 
Prompt # 1 (Bravery)
Prompt # 2 (My Favorite T.V. Show)
Two Essays on "Fire"

Statistical Analysis of Their Own Writing:
A Statistical Picture of Sixth Graders' Writing

     A "picture" of sixth graders writing is important because it can tell us a lot about what we should be trying to teach sixth graders. Many grammar textbooks claim that they help students improve their writing, but I have yet to see a textbook geared for students at a specific grade level that is based on how students at that level actually write. If you browse through the analysis keys above, you will find that the KISS Approach can explain the syntax of the vast majority of words in these students' writing. There are very few gerundives and appositives, for example, even in the writing of the most sophisticated of these students. What I am suggesting, once again, is that students do not need a mass of grammatical terms in order to discuss the style (and errors) in their own writing.
     One of the things you will note if you look through all the samples from the PA Standards is the extremely wide range of sophistication in the samples. Some of the students wrote very little, and did so in very simple sentences; others wrote a lot more, and did so using a wide range of clause structures and very varied sentence structure. As students analyze the samples, they will see this for themselves, and will, in general, see for themselves how their own writing compares to that of their peers.
      Another purpose of this set of exercises is to provide statistical background for some of the KISS "Statistical" Exercises. It is my intention to return to this set and to provide a statistical analysis, comparable to that I have done for seventh graders. (Before doing so, I want to put sets comparable to this one in some of the other grades, so that, there too, students can use examples of the writing of their peers simply to understand sentence structure.) In order to use these examples as exercises ("S_Ex" above), most of the errors in them have been edited out. In the statistical evaluation, these errors are included -- and discussed. The results, I believe, will be comparable to those for the seventh graders -- most errors are misspelling of subject/verb words ("it's," "its"; "they're," there," etc.), or they are fragments, comma-splices, and run-ons, i.e., clause boundary errors. To avoid or fix these errors, students do not need to learn bunches of grammatical terms -- they need to learn how to analyze sentences. And that is what the KISS Approach attempts to enable them to do. See also KISS Level 6.5 Statistical Stylistics.
     The primary point of this is that students should attempt a statistical analysis of their own written responses to one of the prompts. Not only does this integrate English and math, it provides students the opportunity to closely examine the structure of their own sentences. Even if they have problems with the statistics, students will note, for example,  that there are a lot (or very few) subordinate clauses in their own writing.


Click here for the detailed statistical analysis of this set of samples.