Reading and Responding

It’s not enough for a person to generate a message for another person. It’s also not enough for a person to understand a message sent by someone else. Real communication in our lives depends on not just speaking, but also understanding and acknowledging what you hear.

When the communication is in print, and the two communicators are a reader and a writer, it’s not enough for a reader to signal, “Yep. I got that.” Or “Good story.”  Responses like this don’t demonstrate any understanding. And neither, really, do multiple choice questions. So what does demonstrate understanding? Putting into words, composing, thoughts I was having, mental images I was seeing, as I read. Of course, we could ask students to answer questions about the text, and we will when assessment time comes around, but aren’t students reacting mentally to their reading before they get questions?

If many of the questions involve how an author’s moves make an impact on a reader, students need to become acquainted with their own independent thoughts and reactions to their reading. We need to help students learn how to generate well-formed, thorough, composed reactions to a text. Text structures can help develop this ability. Have fun exploring kernel essays for reading and writing!

Text Structures for Responding to Reading Five Handy Ways to Respond to What You Read Short Answer Questions Reading with Lenses and Stemology Reading Question Stems from Released STAAR Tests Persuasive Writing in Response to Literature Visual Prompts for Themes from Major Literary Works

Five Handy Ways to Respond to What You Read

These five additional structures represent a variety of graphic layouts beyond sentences and are especially useful for teachers of the content areas.

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Short Answer Questions

Starting in 2023, all Texas students from grades 3-10 will be taking the revised STAAR assessment in which they will compose answers to text-based questions. The answers will have to be supported with well-chosen, clearly explained evidence from the texts. To prepare, the students write their own questions, choose a text structure, and write their answer. This practice breaks the process into concrete, simple steps.

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Reading with Lenses and Stemology

Jennifer Martin discovered that her struggling high school students made remarkable gains when she used this process with them, and they also gained valuable annotation skills.  

After students annotate their reading, Jennifer has them use the released questions from the STAAR reading tests to create their own original questions and multiple-choice answers. It’s a huge success.

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Persuasive Writing in Response to Literature

What happens if you combine responding to literature and persuasive writing? Here’s an easy three-step process that will yield surprising results!

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Visual Prompts for Themes from Major Literary Works

These collections of visual prompts are especially useful if your students are reading major works like Romeo and Juliet. What do you do with the visual prompts? No doubt you’ll think of many ways to use these for freewriting or discussion, but you could also use them to write 11-minute essays. 

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