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Improve prompt responses with the Yes, MA’AM acronym
january 11, 2022
Standardized tests require that students read multiple texts and then respond in writing. In order to pull this off, they have to know what to write and how to get started.
To help with this challenge, kids need a memorable way to tackle this on-demand writing. Utilizing the concepts learned during Smekens Education workshops, Break-O-Day Elementary (Whiteland, IN) teacher Sara Ambler crafted the acronym MA’AM, which led to the bigger Yes, MA’AM strategy.
With the MA’AM acronym, each letter reminds students where the information they will use in each sentence will come from.
Some sentences use details from the AUTHOR that can be pulled directly from the text. But other information must be inferred by ME, the reader, and is the result of independent thinking pulled from MY head.
When applying the MA’AM acronym, a basic constructed response would have four sentences– some from MY head and some from the AUTHOR’s text.
- The first sentence is MY thinking; it’s the answer (i.e., the inference).
- The next two sentences come from the AUTHOR. They will include literal words and details stated in the text (i.e., textual evidence).
- The final sentence is again MY explanation.
You can make the MA’AM acronym more meaningful when you teach it as the Yes, MA’AM strategy.
Explain to students that they are writing their responses to a real audience—the Test Lady™. This persona of the Test Lady represents the actual human being who will be reading the student’s written work. And even if your state or national assessment is scored by artificial intelligence, students are still motivated by the idea of writing to an audience.
Ultimately, we want every student to attack open-ended questions with confidence by knowing the response will always follow the Yes, MA’AM structure. Support students on this journey with a variety of digital resources, templates, and examples.