Wow! I can’t believe another month is already behind us!
For today’s Thursday Throw Down, I’m going to show you how I have “beefed up” my students’ written response to literature. Be sure to grab the freebie interactive notebook lesson discussed here at the end of this post.
I feel like I spend at least half of every school year trying to improve my students’ written response to literature. I call these “discussion questions” so I’ll refer to them that way throughout the rest of this post. To show my students’ improvement with this method, I’ve got before and after photos!
WOWZA, right?! I wish I’d had the foresight to save a copy of the same students’ before and after, but I had no idea this lesson would be so successful or that my students’ answers would improve so drastically in such a short period of time. In the three years that I’ve taught ELA, this is BY FAR the writing lesson that produces the most immediate, dramatic results!
When my students are struggling with a concept, I have learned to break it down into small chunks, describe EXPLICITLY how to perform the task, and then show them examples and let them pick out the good and the bad and the terrible for themselves. In the AFTER photo, my student did exactly what I told him to do – Answer, Cite, and Explain!
Alright. Go grab yourself a snack (or glass of wine if that’s your style) and calm down. Thou shalt not covet the work of another teacher’s student. Getting results like this will NOT cost you any of your precious time or money. Just download, print, and teach this interactive notebook lesson! Here’s the notebook page my students completed:
Then, we practiced writing the 3 parts to a discussion question answer in the template below so that the students could distinguish each part while I emphasized that ALL THREE of these things – Answer, Cite, Explain – had to be done EVERY TIME.
They wrote their answers in a template like the one below to start.
Then, they transferred their answers to loose leaf paper like in the examples above. After doing their first round of questions this way, most of my students didn’t need it a second time. After grading the next round of discussion questions, I simply redistributed the template to the students who did not follow protocol carefully and had them redo it, first on the template, then again on loose leaf paper. That’s Behavior Modification 101 right there – make them correct the behavior every time it’s done wrong. Eventually, they’ll either a) learn the behavior, or b) decide it’s too much trouble not to do what I’m asking them to do.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering about the letters and numbers on the “before” student sample that I graded above – I use a key when grading writing so that I do not have to keep writing out notes in the margins. My students have this key written in their interactive notebooks (OF COURSE!) so they can refer back to see why I took point(s) off and what they need to correct. Some of my letters:
P = (Pronoun) You used a pronoun before you identified the subject in the answer. You must always identify the subject first and use the pronoun later.
V = (Vague) Your answer is too vague. Include more details and/or more specific details from the passage.
Q = (Question) Your answer is either wrong (-2) or partially wrong or incomplete (-1).
Sp = Spelling error
SS = (Sentence Sense) Your sentence either doesn’t make sense or you used the wrong verb tense.
CS = (Complete Sentences) Fragment or run-on error
TE = (Text Evidence) You did not cite text evidence or you did not cite text evidence properly.
(Capitalization and punctuation errors are indicated by my correction with proofreader’s marks and 1/2 point is taken off.)
Each discussion question answer is worth a total of 5 points and I start taking deductions from there.
The rest of my writing lessons are in my brand new Interactive Writing Notebook. It broke the Top 10 this week!
I hope you’re here to join the party! You’re invited to link up your blog post about how you make your lessons interactive for your students. It can be about ANYTHING interactive – some examples include interactive whiteboards, music, manipulatives, projects, group work, interactive notebooks, and lapbooks. Just grab my Thursday Throw Down button above, insert it into your blog post, and link to this blog post. Please, no direct product links. Be sure to check out the other bloggers who have linked up today!