If you were to Google the phrase “responsive writing” you would most likely find a wide array of academic articles that discuss a variety of strategies for connecting literature to writing. If you were to ask me, I would make a rare break from discoursing on educational pedagogy to say that responsive writing is exactly what it sounds like: writing that encourages responding to texts, whether fictional or informational.
As my students have been moving forward through the Houghton-Mifflin Reading series, I have been guiding them through responsive writing to their texts. The text typically provides six questions at the end of each selection to foster students’ thinking about what they read. For the first couple of selections, I allowed the students to explore ways to answer the questions with limited direction from me. But over the past week, I have started giving more explicit directions in order to guide the students toward more responsive writing.
Today we focused on the three basic elements of answering a question in response to a text:
- Rephrase the question in the form of a statement;
- Explain your answer;
- Support your answer with evidence from the text.
As I taught these basic elements, I emphasised the idea that a response to a text should be more than just one or two sentences. Rather, each student should write at least one very strong paragraph, and possibly two or three. While most of the students are still in the process of writing just one solid paragraph, it is my expectation that their writing will become more and more robust with every new response. Also, my students can expect to do much more writing than they have in the past! Just as reading improves with practice, so does writing!