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Writing sample: 11 year old, 5th grade


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I have tried several writing programs over the years, but none has lasted more than

a couple of months. Nothing quite fits my personality, so I am back to giving my DD

very open ended writing assignments, simply having her write, and occassionally

having her revise. I think her skills are progressing, but I'd like some thoughts on

how she is doing.


The assignment was to write about a problem she had experience and the solution.

The first draft was written one day, and the revision was made about month later.


****First Draft***

Chunks in the Smoothie


I love making a delicious berry smoothie, no matter what it takes. Often, I make a

smoothie. But it seems like almost every time I make one there are still huge chunks of

strawberries that don’t get blended up. For some reason, they are always at the top, and the

blade never catches them, even when it seems like it just did.


Sometimes I try to add more milk, hopping that the thick mixture will thin out and the

berries will sink to the bottom.


But after finding out that won’t work, I usually will try adding fresh fruit to the

smoothie. In my head, I think that the juices will also thin out the smoothie.


Unfortunately, it doesn’t. I also try to poke the berries up to the top, but when I turn

the bottle over to blend it, they all sink down.


I always save this one for last, hopping that the other methods will work better, but I

always have to use this. I take a long handled spoon and I try to scoop up all the berries, and

place them on top, or if I’m just predicting that they will sink down again, I just put them in a

bowl, and don’t use them.


Hopefully your smoothie doesn’t chunk up like that. But if it does, then I hope that you

eventually figure it out.



*** Second Draft ***

Chunks in the Smoothie


I love making a delicious berry smoothie, no matter what it takes. Often, I make a

smoothie. A smoothie should be smooth, almost like a milkshake, and it can vary in thickness to

your liking. It could be as thick as a whipped cream, or almost like water. I prefer the whipped

cream consistency. You should be able to take a spoonful of it and have it plop down into your

cup, instead of ribboning down. My strawberry smoothies are a light pink with lots of seeds (for

crunch), unless they have a banana in which case, its even lighter. The color is much lighter than

the original strawberry because of the milk. It looks like a napkin. Once all the chunks are

removed, my smoothie is thick, but very smooth.There should be no chunks. But it seems like

almost every time I make one there are still chunks (penny sized to whole strawberries) of

strawberries that don’t get blended up. For some reason, they are always at the top, and the

blade never catches them, even when it seems like it just did.


To help evenly blend the berries, I try and add more milk or water. Hopefully the extra

liquid will thin down the very thick smoothie, making the berries denser than the smoothie, so

they sink to the bottom. I usually add between 2-4 tablespoons of the liquid. If I think that the

smoothie already tastes very strongly of milk, I will add water, otherwise I usually use milk.

After blending the thinned down smoothie, I usually find that that doesn’t do the trick. So, I use

fresh berries, instead of the frozen ones I use to make the base of the smoothie. I think that

adding fresh fruit not only intensifies and concentrates the delicious fruit flavor, but it also thins

down the smoothie with its natural juices. If we have fresh fruit, I’ll usually dice up about 1/3

cup and blend it into the smoothie.


If that doesn’t work, then I have to I have to start poking utensils into the jar. I might use

chopsticks or a knife, but usually I take a long handled spoon and try to scoop and poke the

berries to the top, so that when I flip the jar over the berries will stay in the top where the

blade is. Unfortunately, if the smoothie is thinned out with milk or fresh fruit, then the frozen

chunks sink down immediately. So I have to use the last method, which usually works, but it is

very labor some. I take that long handled spoon I was talking about earlier, and I try to scoop up

the berries and chunks and if I predict that they’ll sink down again, I just set them aside and

don’t use them. This can cause a big mess, or just take a long time to get all the chunks out, but

in the end, it always works.


Hopefully your smoothie doesn’t chunk up like that, but if it does then hopefully you can

try some of these methods and you’ll have a perfect smoothie without any chunks.


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Here's another of her compositions.

The assignment was to write a compare/contrast composition on a topic of her choosing.

The first day we had a lengthy conversation about the topic and I helped her build an outline.

The second day she drafted the composition from the outline on her own.


I didn't have her revise this one because I wasn't sure what to have her revise.

I know this composition has a few spelling, capitalization, and grammar issues,

but I am using other resources to work on those problems.





Do you ever wonder how professional chefs make their show stopping deserts? Well, both

Yolanda Gampp of "How To Cake It," and Ann Reardon of "How To Cook That" were both

professional chefs with amazing youtube channels. Even though their both chefs and you

tubers, they do have some differences like what they make, their personality, guests on their

show, and their website.


Firstly, the biggest difference is what they make. Yolanda only makes cakes. She has

made many mega cakes like her mega pecan pie cake or her mega breakfast cake. She also

makes lots of cakes in the shape of objects. Some of them include books, bags, weights, and

food like cupcakes, turkeys, and hot dogs. Ann makes a variety of different deserts. She has a

lot of chocolate truffles, and chocolate sphere deserts, but she does do many great cakes like

macaron cakes, ballerina cakes, and even sponge bob cakes. She also has lots of recipes that

build up to make cakes like frostings, and cake recipes.


Secondly, their personalities are very different. Yolanda is rather loud. She naturally has

a loud voice, as well as her producer. Yolanda is also very funny, always dressing up and

wearing a t shirt that relates to what she is caking. Sometimes she wears hats or cool glasses.

Ann on the other hand, is quieter. She always gives options. She lets you vary the color, the

flavor or the size. She also gives great suggestions. Ann might suggest putting a number of

toppings on a desert, but of course she doesn’t expect you to use all of them. She is also very

kind. Every other month she makes giant chocolate bars and gives them to people who are

doing giant things.


Yolanda and Ann are very different on who they have on their show. Yolanda has had

many fellow youtubers on her show like Nick from the Scran Line, Elise from My Cupcake

Addiction, and Casper from a home decorating show. Lots of times she has people from behind

the camera come and help her decorate cakes. Jocelyn her producer sometimes helps her

decorate, or Mike her Camera man helps her bake the cake, or Sasha the sound producer helps

her stack and fill her cakes. 30% of the time somebody new is on Yolanda’s show. Ann almost

never has guests. The guests that she does have are usually her family or her neighbors. Her

husband and kids help her make the cakes or pick fresh berries. Her neighbors appear in her

frosting taste test video.


Their website is vital for making any desert. Yolanda’s sells merchandise like shirts,

spatulas, cups, aprons, books, camp sign ups, and a VIP membership. She also has the recipes.

That’s where you can find the ingredients list, the quantities, and other tips. She also has

frosting recipes, simple syrup recipes, and links to special ingredients. Her website is bright and

very professional looking. Ann only has recipes. She has quantities, how to do it, and tips. Her’s

is much simpler looking with regular links.


Even though the two you tubers are very different, they are both useful to watch and

learn from, since they give different tips. Yolanda is great at caking things and she is very fun to

watch. Her guests are constantly new, and her website is very colorful. Ann has a variety of

beautiful desserts, and plenty of step by step instruction.

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Generally... great. Seems like she is developing a good writing voice. She can revise. Her mechanics aren't perfect, but they're very solid for her age. She seems like she writes fluently and confidently. She seems very much on track. She has some good descriptions. She varies her sentences. Her choices of topics was cool. I can tell she likes food and cooking!


I think it's okay to leave the second piece of writing. It's good. Not everything has to be revised. If you did want her to revise... you could pick one thing to focus on. Maybe sentences - there are a few awkward sentences. Reading it aloud might help her spot them. Or maybe descriptions - she has a lot of lists, but you could brainstorm lots of sensory words for this and help her add to her descriptions for some of those paragraphs. Or, you could have her focus on stronger topic sentences maybe. I'm not sure what the exact assignment was, but this is a piece of writing where the personal voice might help. You don't usually put "I" in a formal essay, but this is clearly her experiences and opinions. Putting herself in it might actually make the writing stronger.


This is a really great book of essays that you might use as inspiration for the way you're teaching:



They're written by various middle grade and young adult authors in a wide variety of styles.

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