Ask students to brainstorm ideas about the best way to answer questions in school. Record their thoughts in a circle map.
I expect students will say things like: use a complete sentence, make sure the information is correct, or use nice handwriting.
Explain that you will teach them a new way to make sure they do it right every single time. The method that they will be learning will help them to rephrase the questions so that the answer is always a complete thought. Students will also learn ways to use the text in their answers as support. This method is not just for sixth grade but can also be used in the future.
I really like to talk up the importance of the RACE method before we jump in because initially students do not like it! It requires more work and can be a little mind boggling for some at first. Once they are comfortable with the process, students begin to see that it is a really effective way to make sure they answer text dependent questions in a complete way.
For my first short term learning cycle, I am using the RACE strategy to teach my students to answer a question completely while citing evidence. I really like this link and the simple way this 4th grade teacher explained the RACE strategy. My students are unfamiliar with this strategy so I chose not to formally pre-test them. I have seen several of their written responses since the beginning of this unit and determined that my students do not know how to use this strategy.
Here is a helpful resource on the RACE method.
First, I will present the goal: 100 % of my sixth graders will be proficient at using the RACE strategy by the end of this 2 week cycle as evidenced by their written responses. Then, we will set the stage by outlining exactly what it is that I will do as the teacher and they will do as the student. Next we will discuss strategies that have worked for them in the past, and make our learning plan. We will revisit the plan often over the next week!
Now it is time to learn the strategy. I will share it with them and have them write it in their reading notebooks.
Rephrase the question
Answer the question
Cite specific evidence from the text
Explain how your evidence helps answer the question
Here is the focus question:
Why does Laurie say that all the other children play with Charles even though they are told not to?
I will model the process of each part of RACE, and then the students will write their first answer with a partner. .
First, we will rephrase the question. For example, "Laurie says that all the other children play with Charles even though they are told not to because....."
When it is time to answer the question, I ask them what they think. Why did Charles say this? I record their answers on the board, and they will choose an answer with their partner.
Most students will say that Laurie said this because he was seeking attention, so I will have them look through the highlights in the text and examine their tree maps for examples of Charles/Laurie seeking attention. I ask them to put one finger on the evidence and the other hand in the air so that I can make sure the evidence was appropriate. Then, I'll have students share out some of the evidence, and I'll show it on the document camera. They will decide on a piece of evidence and add this into their partner response.
Having the students explain their evidence is the most difficult part for most students. I will start them off with the sentence stem of "This is an attention seeking behavior because..." Again, we will talk through this, and then they'll write their own explanations together.
Next, students will try this strategy on their own using the question:
Why does Laurie invent Charles?
I may have to model this answer with some students, and I will circulate offering support as they go.
After students have finished writing, they will trade with another person. Students will identify each of the parts of RACE within each other's work. They will write the appropriate letter next to the sentence. Afterwards, they will discuss the results and give feedback to each other. I want my students to really understand if they are using this method correctly, and it is not easy at first. When I assess their work, I also go through and label each section of RACE, and I want them to understand what it means. I think that discussing this with a partner will really help them sort through this process and begin to understand it.