Look for Prompt Connections in Test Writing

Writing

Look for Prompt Connections in Test Writing

Posted on November 29, 2010

Look for Prompt Connections in Test Writing

Test Writing

When students have no choice on topic, they can get frustrated. How do we help them work through that frustration? Keep reading to discover more ways to connect students to the prompt.

Topic choice equals topic voice, and yet, assigned topics are the nature of high-stakes state assessments. No choice. No time. No process. That's the state writing assessment. And sometimes the prompt is about something totally out of a student's personal experience. How do we help students relate and connect to an arbitrary prompt?

Even though assigned topics don't give students a choice, they do offer some options. How the student chooses to connect with the prompt is totally up to each individual.

Janet Angelillo, in her book, Writing to the Prompt, suggests that students need a little help to be able to connect with standardized prompts. Here are a few more questions you might pose to students to help them connect with an unfamiliar topic...

  • Is there a picture book that they've read that is like this?
  • Do they know a song that has lyrics about anything to do with the prompt?
  • Have they ever seen a photograph or painting that could help them connect?
  • Is there a video game that might have something in it about the prompt?
  • If they can make no connections, then they get to make it up!

Make sure they understand the last one--if they have no connection possibilities, they do have the privilege of providing a fictional fit to the prompt. Knowing that ahead of time can help students avoid writer's block when faced with a prompt they don't necessarily relate to.