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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Constructed Response, Take 2

Yes, there is a way to construct a better response. Last year, I discussed the constructed response in my December 24th post. One year later, I have some new insights.

Is one paragraph better than the other? Let's analyze them.

 The first paragraph focuses on the reader's impression of the Camel. It includes a reference to the story, great support, and a strong organizational structure. The second paragraph is shorter and uses a slightly weaker organizational pattern. But it's better. Why?

In the second paragraph, the reader addresses the attribute that affects the outcome of the story. In addition, she explains how the character's actions affected that outcome.

At the beginning of the year, I taught my fourth graders how to answer questions. It was the logical first step. Readers could focus on just one part of the text to find evidence. Next, I taught them to summarize. They learned to identify the character's goal, obstacles that got in the way, and main events that led to the outcome of the story. This broad understanding of the story became the key to finding and defending a theme, describing a character (or setting or event), and defending point of view.

Today, my students are contemplating elements of each story like never before. They're writing concise responses to express key details. It's powerful stuff. Thank you, Common Core.

Enjoy teaching today! I know I will.