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Friday, January 31, 2014

Writing a Constructed Response

Are reading and writing still the meat and potatoes of language arts?

When I began teaching, I considered reading and writing as two separate (yet related) entities. Today, however, students are expected to construct longer responses, and writing has become an integral part of reading.

How can we pull writing into our reading instruction? How can we help our students write high quality constructed responses?

Direct Instruction - Students need to know how to construct a response. Providing a step-by-step process is the first step. 

I use these steps when introducing constructed response to my
fourth grade class (but I don't always require Step 4).

Modeling - Giving good directions doesn't always work. Students need to see the process in action.

This example comes from a free modeling lesson for  an excerpt
from The Wind in the Willows.

Practice, Practice, Practice - Students need to construct a variety of responses over the course of the school year. Practice early, practice often (and practice in a broad range of genres and response types).

The Common Core State Standards, for example,
ask intermediate grade students to construct
responses for these prompt types.

Student Exemplars - Viewing effective pieces written by peers raises the bar and motivates students to continually improve their craft.

Reading and writing remain the meat and potatoes of language arts. Today, however, they must be served as a casserole. Bon appetit!