More Than Filling in the Bubble: Responding to Short Answer Questions

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SWBAT response to short answer questions in a reading assessment by using text based example.

Big Idea

Students practice how to refer to the text to use text-based details in responding to short answer questions.


5 minutes

This lesson teaches students about the third type of text based questions on a reading assessment, short answer. The strategies students use to answer these questions accurately are most similar to typical reading strategies. 

I introduce this lesson to students by reviewing the strategies they have already learned, reading the text, reviewing the questions, and formulating their own answer before looking at the options. They will need similar skills to respond to short answer questions but there are a few differences. The may difference is that there are not answer options to select from. Instead, they have to use the details from the text to support their answers in writing, even including those details directly in their written response.

Main Activity

20 minutes

I model how to respond to short answer questions by looking using a short answer question that connects to the text that students worked on yesterday. They have read the text multiple times and are familiar with the main concepts. The first step to responding the to question or prompt is to determine what it is asking the reader to focus on. For example:

Based on the selection, Milton Hershey could be described as hardworking. Use two details from the text that support that description.

I underline "described as hardworking" and "support that description". The prompt wants me to prove that Milton Hershey is hardworking with examples from the text. 

The second step is to go back to the text and find examples and underline them or mark them in some way.

Finally, I need to briefly restate the question or prompt and then add the details. For example, the first sentence of my response might be, "Milton Hershey is hardworking because..."

After I modeled these steps, I give students another question to respond to using the same text. By this lesson, they have a copy of the text and can use that rather than having to read it from the projection. If the sample assessment doesn't provide a second short answer prompt or question, you can make one up. Simple assert something and ask for evidence from the text to support it. Obviously, make sure it can be answered.

Lastly, students receive a new text and set of short answer questions or prompt to respond to and then work independently to respond to them in writing.


5 minutes

In closing, I review with the students the questions or prompts and their answers. They do not all have the same answer in order for their response to be correct. We talk through each step, identifying the specific question, finding examples in the text and then responding in writing by restating the prompt.