Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Studying Anchor Papers

Dawn Capes
Bay District Schools


How can students best learn something? By doing it! By scoring Florida Writes/F-CAT essay anchor papers, students are provided an opportunity to better their own essays.


The student drafts and revises writing that -is focused, purposeful, reflects insight into the writing situation;-conveys a sense of completeness and wholeness with adherence to the main idea;-has an organizational pattern that provide for a logical progression of ideas;-has support that is substantial, specific, revelant, concrete, and/or illustrative;-demonstrates a commitment to and an involvement with the subject;-has clarity in presentation of ideas;uses creative writing strategies appropriate to the purpose of the paper;demonstrates a command of language (word choice) with freshness of expression;has varied sentence structure and sentences that are complete except when fragments are used and purposefully; andhas few, if any, convention errors in mechanics, usage, and punctuation.


-Sample student essays. Obtained from Florida Writes! Report on the (any year is fine) Assessment. These should be available at your school or you may contact the county office or go to
-Florida Writes! Scoring rubric. This can be found in the same place as the sample essays.
-Chart paper


1. Obtain a copy of the Florida Writes! Rubric. Make enough copies for each child.
2. Prepare chart paper, highlighters and markers for each group.
3. Type the student version of the Florida Writes Rubric. A word processing program like Microsoft Word which allows you to insert tables is suggested due to its ease in creating the product.
4. Obtain a copy (year is not important) of the Florida Writes Report. (see materials section). Create a Packet A of expository essays which needs to contain at least one essay of each scoring level. The score and scoring information should be cut off the bottom. Arrange essays in no particular order but number them 1-7. Prepare at least one packet per child/or one classroom set. (This can be reused from year to year)
5. From the same book which was used to collect the expository essay, create a Packet B of persuasive essays. This time provide only four essays. Suggested scoring levels: 5, 3, 3, 2. Arrange them in no particular order and label them 1-4. Prepare at lease one packet per child/or one classroom set. (This can be reused from year to year)


(The benchmark is met through an awareness of the rubric which contains similar language to the benchmark. By studying sample papers, students are made aware of the information in the benchmark.)

Day One
1. Give students a copy of the Florida Writes! Rubric. Remind students of the basic elements of the rubric: 7 scoring levels, four areas of organization (focus, organization, support, conventions). Next, have them get into seven groups and assign each group a scoring level on the rubric (6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0). Then, have students use four different colored highlighters to indicate important words and phrases which relate to the four areas of organization. Finally, students should write the information down on their chart paper making sure to organize the information into the four areas of organization.

2. Students should choose a spokesperson for their group who will be responsible for sharing the important words and phrases with the class.

3. As students are sharing, make sure to note the language of the rubric and how it descends according to the scoring level.

4. The teacher should then take the information and create a class rubric which shows the breakdown of the rubric into a more manageable format. (I suggest using a program such as Microsoft Word which allows you to insert a table. The boxes are easily manipulated. I have provided a grade 4 sample which illustrates this idea.)

Day Two
1. Inform students that they will be learning how to be scorers of Florida Writes! Essays. Explain to them that when their Florida Writes essays are sent to the state, they are scored by two people who have undergone the same type of training the students are about to do. Further explain to students that this activity is designed to help them gain an understanding of what the scorers are looking for when they score an essay.

2. Have students take out two sheets of paper and pen/pencil and give them a class version of the Florida Writes! Rubric.

3. Distribute packet A. Have students read essay #1 in the packet. Allow students time to read the essay, write their scores down on the paper, and provide two reasons why they gave the essay the score they did. Once all students have scored the first essay, have them discuss what they think the essay scored. Allow some discourse here. Once students have shared, give them the actual score and let them know the judges' reasons for what it scored. (Remember this is what you cut off before you made copies)

4. Have students do the activity with each essay in Packet A.

5. At the end of the day, formatively assess the students' work and check to see that they particpated in the activity and that their scoring accuracy improved with each subsequent score. It is acceptable for students to be at least one point off the actual score.

Day Three
1. Tell students that now the scoring is going to be a little more difficult. They probably realized that in Packet A there was one essay of each scoring level. Now, there are only going to be four essays to read and there may be repeats of a scoring level.

2. Distribute Packet B. Again give students time to read essay #1. Have them write their scores and two reasons on a sheet of notebook paper. Allow students to share what they think the essay scored. Then, share the actual score and reasons for its score. Do this with each essay.

3. Once students have scored all the essays, ask them to write down two things they have learned from this activity. Students may want to share their learning experience in a classroom discussion.

4. Collect the answers and formatively check for scoring accuracy.


Formatively assess student understanding throughout the course of the first days.


The teacher may choose to do the activities for the whole unit in a multitude of ways. A concentration on expository essays without persuasive essays included could be done. Or vice versa. If the students have a good understanding of the process and can keep the two separate, the teacher may choose to do both at once.
Return to the Beacon Lesson Plan Library.