Constructed Responses Require Textual Evidence

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.

This simple acronym acts as a frame, ensuring all components are included. Strong responses require a combination of reader inferring (ME) and textual support (AUTHOR). Utilizing the concepts learned during Smekens Education workshops, Break-O-Day Elementary (Whiteland, IN) teacher Sara Ambler crafted the acronym Yes MA'AM. Each letter of MA'AM reminds students of the type of information required (M=Me, A=Author, A=Author, M=Me).

M--Me
The first sentence of the response should reword the question and state a personal opinion or direct response to the question.
 
A--Author
The 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...
A--Author
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--Me
The 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...
Additional Resources

Class Rubric

In addition to practicing the strategies listed above, build a class rubric for well-written constructed responses. Criteria might include the following:

Ideas
  • 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.
Organization
  • 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).
Conventions
  • 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.).
 
Constructed-Response Writing in 7 Steps
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.]




 



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