Writing an open response requires writing in a particular formatted manner in which the student answers a prompt by making a point supported by evidence from the text and then explained in their own words RL.9-10.1. To help my students keep this format clear I ask the students to Think - What does each letter in the acronym "P.E.E." stand for? Then Pair with a partner and come to an agreed upon answer and write it down. Lastly I ask a few students to share their answers with the class. This activity is called Think Pair Write Share. I want students to first discuss their answers with a partner before committing to writing down an agreed upon answer. This simple cooperative strategy will be used throughout the year and it supports the speaking language standards that require students to initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners SL.9-10.1.
I give a quick review of the PEE template and the use of basic transition words that can be used in their open response answer. I explain that transition words are used to eliminate choppy sentences so that their writing will flow smoothly from one point, paragraph, etc. to the next. I tell them that by using transition words, their writing is unified, rather than split into parts that are difficult to read and connect to each other.
My emphasis for this lesson is on finding text based evidence that is both specific and relevant to the prompt RL.9-10.1. I will emphasize sentence fluency and fully developed answers in future lessons that incorporate open response questions.
I explain that their grades will be measured by the scoring rubric which I share with my students. I also explain that they will be graded fairly or on their individual progress towards meeting the standard and not in comparison to everyone else. I suggested that we will be setting individual goals and that they will keep track of their own work and progress through "writing conferences" with me. They are also expected to help one another succeed.
After students completed filling in their PEE template/organizer, I ask them to first pair up with a learning partner to review each other's responses and give each other a preliminary score based on the scoring rubric. Next I check their organizers for basic understanding and then instruct them to begin typing their final draft using a laptop and Microsoft Word while being cognizant of maintaining a formal style and objective tone while writing their open response answer W.9-10.2.
I chose this student work sample because it exemplifies good use of evidence which supports the points being made RL.9-10.1 as well as the use of transition words. We will be writing several open responses during the year and this was the first opportunity for them to get peer feedback as well as writing a final draft. This sample also demonstrates my need to be clear that personal opinions are not part of answering an open response.
In my wrap-up, I conduct an open-ended discussion by asking students to share patterns in their writing that demonstrate comprehension of what they've read and answers the prompt with clear and accurate evidence from the text. We discuss these patterns of writing, and I add that this was a good start to writing open responses and will be the first of several to prepare them for the 10th grade Massachusetts graduation assessment (MCAS). I want them to feel confident in how to write a well-written open response answer.