Mexican-American student essay

A fourth grade Mexican-American student, Isabel Ornelas, was assigned a writing task that required her to develop a narrative about a family spending an evening together. The informal assessment of the work required that she come forward and read her passage to the teacher. Her reading of a passage she had written was helpful to show how far she had progressed with her pronunciation of English. The writing task provides a better estimate than free response because it removes some of the pressure of the moment.

It therefore gives the teacher a more complete picture of how much knowledge of the grammatical structure of English Isabel has captured. Isabel was assessed to be a developing writer (TeacherVision, 2008), as she provided an adequate title, “An evening with the Ornelases,” and introduced the main idea in the first sentence. The sequence of events for the evening demonstrated an appropriate amount of ordering, though some transitional events were left out that would have improved the overall flow of her work. Her use of paragraphing was not uniform throughout.

Some paragraphs were indeed too long and contained multiple ideas that would have been better separated. However, some of her other paragraphs were self-contained and were found to be good paragraphs. This aspect made it clear that her organization skills were developing normally, and that her knowledge of English was the only real barrier to her self-expression. Grammar is the main area in which Isabel’s English language skills show themselves, and it was found that Isabel had some problems with verb declensions (endings).

Therefore, she showed some subject-verb disagreement in number. She also sometimes misplaced object pronouns—placing them before rather than after the verb. This probably stems from her knowledge of Spanish, as this language most often places object pronouns before the verb. Her use of punctuation was adequate. She also demonstrated that some outside research (dictionary work) was done for the assignment through her use of some new vocabulary words that were appropriate to her topic. Overall, her spelling was unconventional, and this also hinted at her knowledge of Spanish.

Such words as “happy” and “hanger” were written as “jappy” and “janger. ” She did show a general mastery over the spelling of such words that would be considered “sight words” for her level, and this demonstrates that she has been exposed to (and is learning) the most common English words and their spellings.


TeacherVision. (2008). “Rubrics for writing: elementary/intermediate,” in The reading teacher’s book lists. (Edward Fry). Pearson Education. Available: http://www. teachervision. fen. com/writing/printable/6313. html