Use this reading response strategy collection to help your students learn to construct written answers to reading.
Responding to literature or informational text in more formal ways, such as for assessments or in standardized testing situations, can be overwhelming for students. We need to make sure they have the tools they will need to answer questions about their reading in concise, focused and effective ways. Teaching a very specific reading response strategy will provide students with what they need to be more successful when they need to respond in writing with evidence and explanation of their thinking.
You can download the complete, free collection by clicking on the bold, red link at the bottom of this post.
The resources we created for this post center around a written response strategy that you will teach your students. The parts of the strategy are explained below. We suggest that you spend two to three days on each piece described, depending on the level of understanding you see in your students as you go. We have provided resources that could be used during your mini-lessons, but also as practice or planning pages for students if needed. You will want to use familiar books and passages to teach and reinforce your mini-lessons. We have created anchor charts, exit tickets, interactive notebook pages and other types of specific related resources to help you teach each of the following parts of written responses: restate, answer, cite and explain.
Introduction – We believe a good way to begin teaching the written response strategy is to get the students involved in coming up with ways to remember the four essential parts of a well written response. Have them form groups (or you can choose to assign students to groups) and find creative ways to remember to restate, answer, cite and explain. You will want to direct them to use these four words in a rap, cheer, poem or jingle along with some simple explanation as to what they are. Encourage creativity & fun and plan to have groups share their end product with the class.
Restate & Answer the Question – Give your students specific instruction for how to use the words within questions in their written responses. In this way, it also helps them to be sure to answer all parts of the question being asked. For example, if the question asks “Who is the main character in the story?” Students would respond with something simple such as “The main character in the story is….” Of course that type of question might not necessarily need evidence from the text, but simple questions are a great way to begin teaching students how to phrase their answers using words from the question. Another example might be “How does the character change throughout the story?” We want students to begin their responses with something like “Haley changes throughout the story in a few ways,” and then move on to writing more sentences with evidence from the text to support how the character changed in a few different ways. The resources we have created for Restating & Answering the Question can be used as a scaffold for students to make sure they are answering questions specifically. We have provided both a literature and an informational text page so that students can practice how to begin answers by turning them into statements. There is a page that is open-ended that can be used for practice with any question that is posed. (You might want to provide a question you want all students to answer based on their current reading selection and then check the answer both for the restatement aspect and also for accuracy.) We have also provided a set of exit tickets you can use to check for understanding.
Cite Evidence from the Text – Citing evidence to support an answer can be the most difficult part of responding to reading. We suggest modeling this skill many times with your students, using both the guided resources we have created and in several shared writing responses. Another great form of practice with citing evidence can occur when you are reading and discussing books orally. Posing questions to students about a story and then requiring them to share what parts made them answer in the way that they did, gives them lots of opportunity to get better at this skill. During these times, you will want to be sure to point out specifically how the evidence supported the answer so that students get lots of exposure to this skill. Also, when responding to the text, students should always cite at least one piece of evidence, but you can also encourage them to find more parts of the story to support their answers. For citing evidence we have provided an anchor chart to guide students with some transition words from answering the question to providing the support from the text. There are also some pages for practice and an interactive notebook resource that could be placed in a reading response notebook.
Explain Your Thinking – As students are learning to find parts of text to support their answers, we also want to press them further with their thinking by asking them to explain how the evidence they provided supports the answer they provided. Again, they will need multiple opportunities, both orally and in writing, to practice thinking through a solid explanation of their thinking. Constant modeling of this response strategy by encouraging students to always explain their thinking after giving an answer and providing evidence from the text is, again, key to their success. Use the resources provided again and again with different literature and informational texts to help scaffold their learning and commit all the parts of a reading response to their long term memory. The explanation resources provided are similar to the others. There is an anchor chart with transition word/phrase ideas, a practice page and an interactive notebook page.
Putting the Parts Together – Now that students have hopefully committed the parts of a well-written response to memory and have practiced each part several times, you will want to have them put everything they have learned together to form some different types of responses (both about literature and informational texts). We have provided a few different organizers that contain specific places for each part of the response, an interactive page for reading response notebooks and a page that is less guided (only lines provided without the prompts) for your use.
However and wherever you choose to have your students respond to their reading, just be sure that they are getting practice responding to different genres and have a solid understanding of what needs to be included in those responses. We hope our reading response strategy collection will help!
You will find all of the resources to accompany our reading response strategy here: Reading Response Collection.
Some teachers choose to have their students respond to reading in notebooks, while others may be more comfortable with scaffolded graphic organizers or guided pages. For some other ideas to support your teaching you might want to check out our post on Reading Response Letters .
In addition to books, you might also want to provide some passages for your students to respond to. Try ReadWorks.org! It has some really great passages you can use for reading responses.