Sunday, August 3, 2014

Prose Constructed Response...Introducing Interactive Reader's Response Flaps and Show What You Know!

     Last school year I had the opportunity to attend a teacher in-service on Common Core writing for 4th-5th grade. The focus of the in-service was on Literary Analysis and Research. The presenter really made me think differently about the teaching of writing. The one thing she kept on stressing was that writing assignments should not be 2-3 weeks long focusing one only one kind of reader's response or essay based on one question. They should be shorter assignments that last 1-3 days maximum. The change was that it's all about exposing kids to different words and prompts, and teaching them how to respond to a question based on what they have read in text. They don't need to write large essays with multiple paragraphs for analytical response and research. They might write only a paragraph filled with explanation, and as long as the writing has structure within the paragraph they are showing they can formulate their ideas into written words that show understanding of what they have read. One of my biggest challenges has always been writing because of time, so this was a huge relief to hear. So I decided to take the information that I learned, what I know, and expand how I use my Reader's Response Notebook. I know that for students to learn how to write they need modeled instruction, anchors to view and time to practice, proofread, and revise. I have found that 45 minutes to 1 hour for writing/grammar instruction every day is best. If you can connect the writing with what you reading it connects the subjects, and with the new expectations of writing and CCSS you will need that when students begin taking the PARCC writing assessments.
     Analytical  response can be difficult not only to teach, but because there are so many different questions that students could be asked, and for 4th and 5th grade students all it takes is one word like describe, explain, or classify and they don't know what to do. So this past school year I began focusing on how to make this work for my students and this is what I did.
     First I expanded the use of my reading notebook to include R.W.I. - Read, Write, and Illustrate...Interactive Reader's Response Flaps with Sentence Stems

These are reading prompts that include sentence stems that help guide students with their writing. I also included a space for illustration or mapping. I've found that some students need to draw or map out their thoughts first before they write, and the illustration box provides that space. It also adds a personal touch because students can add visuals and illustrations to guide their thinking.

     When teaching an Analytical Response lesson I modeled the expectations for these Reader's Response Flaps so students had an anchor on one side of their notebook. This helps them when they write a response independently on the other side. One thing that I liked about this was it saved me wall space in my room. I didn't have to create anchor posters for every response we wrote since the anchor was already in their notebook. Yes!
      Another thing that I did was modify the flaps. I had a few students last year that had spatial/coordination issues and folding paper was difficult. I had those students cut off the flap and glue just the prompt in their response notebook. I used this modification and it was much better for them; differentiation in action! You could also cut off just the flap and glue in the question, sentence stems, and illustration section, don't include the Reader's Response title.
     I'm really excited to have something like this for my 4th and 5th grade students because it will definitely make things easier for them and myself. 

Maybe this is something that would benefit you and your students. Just click on the hyperlink above!

Show What You Know

     Another teaching source that I created last year and tested with my students was Show What You Know. This teaching source focuses also on analytical response as well, but it contains a scoring rubric on every page. I don't know about you, but I don't have time to create comprehension tests for every text that we read so this was a great resource for formative assessment and it's easy to grade. It also shows you which students need help with analytical response.

     Maybe this is something that would benefit you and your students. Just click on the hyperlink above!