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!