Constructed Responses Require Textual Evidence
Constructed response questions in standardized testing require students to draw conclusions and support those inferences with evidence from the text. However, flipping back to the passage is not a habit most students have built; they would prefer to simply generalize their reasons. Encourage specific textual evidence using some of these strategies.
After reading a narrative text, provide students with a simple character web. Assign students a single character (noted in the center of the web). Students have to infer a single character trait. Then they have to cite specific textual examples as proof. As shown in the Tuck Everlasting example, require students to quote direct excerpts from the text and include page numbers for each detail they cite.
Strong constructed responses include MULTIPLE examples from the text. A single detail isn't enough. Encourage students to continue piling on the support. Stephanie Senac and Alicia Johnson, 10th grade English teachers from Greenwood High School (Greenwood, IN) used a Coke Zero ad to demonstrate this concept to their students. (NOTE: Scroll down on the Coke Zero linked site to view commercial.) This commercial models how to add support by asking "And?" or "Because?" just when you think you're done writing. Check out Stephanie and Alicia's Coke Zero handout based on Fahrenheit 457.
Many constructed responses require an Author & Me answer written to the Test Lady™. Based on the notion of QAR, the student has to offer a personal opinion (me) and support it with details from the reading (author). Sarah Ambler, 4th grade teacher from Break-O-Day Elementary (Whiteland, IN) developed the "Yes Ma'am" acronym to help her students remember this.
M--MeThe first sentence of the response should reword the question and state a personal opinion or direct response to the question.
A--AuthorThe first "A" prompts the student to look at what the author said and to include a detail from the text to support his answer. Here are some suggested sentence starters:
- In the text...
- The text states...
- According to the passage...
- One example from the text...
- The author states...
The second "A" reminds the student that a constructed response requires multiple supporting details from the author.
- In the text...
- The text also states...
- According to the passage...
- A second example from the text...
- The author also states...M--MeThe response ends with the student (me) explaining or interpreting the significance of the evidence. One of these sentence starters might help:
- This shows...
- This demonstrates...
- I believe...
- Now I know...
- This proves...
In addition to practicing the strategies listed above, build a class rubric for well-written constructed responses. Criteria might include the following:
- Fully addresses the topic/answers the question.
- Goes beyond the text to say something new (gives an opinion, draws a conclusion, offers a prediction, makes an inference, etc.).
- Provides at least two different and specific details from the text to support opinion/conclusion/inference.
- Restates the question in the opening sentence of the response (introductory sentence).
- Concludes the short response with a sentence that interprets the evidence (explains what the details from the text prove).
- Avoids pronouns. (Defines all nouns in this short response to avoid confusion.)
- Writes a complete, coherent response. (The scorer only reads what is written--not the original question. The response must be complete, giving context.)
- Uses basic conventions (capitalization, spelling, grammar, etc.).
Visit the Idea Library section of our website for several other articles to support short-answer response skills.
RI/RL.3.1 ...Referring explicitly to the text as the basis for answers.
RI/RL.4.1 Refer to details and examples in a text...when drawing inferences...
RI/RL.5.1 Quote accurately from a text...when drawing inferences from the text.
RI/RL.6.1 Cite textual evidence to support analysis...as well as inferences.
RI/RL.7.1 Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis...
RI/RL.8.1 Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis...RI/RL.9-12.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis...
|Teach constructed-response writing explicitly
Constructed-responses assess the level of a student's thinking about the reading and his ability to support his conclusions with text-based evidence. Teach students this unique form of writing. [Read more.]
The Smekens format for crafting short or brief constructed responses-- Yes MA’AM can also be adapted to generate longer, extended reading responses. [Read more.]
Constructed-responses are a specialized type of writing that requires explicit, formulaic instruction. Smekens Education utilizes the Yes MA'AM strategy to teach students the essential facets of the formula. [Read more.]