Student-Created Writing Prompts

We started today’s classes with the students finishing a story stem below:

  • As I slowly approached the deserted house at the end of the road…

Volunteers had the opportunity to share their short stories and each class voted upon their favorite of those shared.  You can find those stories here (or see them in the post below this one).

The following students’ stories were selected as the best:

  • 3rd Period: Seamus
  • 4th Period: Alex
  • 5th Period: Eddie
  • 6th Period: Chloe

After a brief recap of yesterday’s discussion on the Georgia Milestones, the students voted to see who had the best writing prompt.  They first selected the best prompt per table.  Next, they selected the best per three table groupings, and then decided between the final two.  The students then created a R.A.C.E. chart/graphic organizer to help them structure their thoughts on the top half of their paper.  They then wrote the full response on the second half of the paper.  Whatever was not completed in class was thereby assigned for homework.

A quick “shout out” goes to the following students for having written the winning constructed response prompts:

  • 3rd Period: Seamus and Sam
  • 4th Period: Erica
  • 5th Period: Lynn
  • 6th Period: Maribel


  • Read for 30 minutes.
  • Complete student-created constructed response if not finished in class.


#GeorgiaMilestones Overview

*NOTE:  Each post from this blog is automatically published on Twitter.  As a result, from time to time I will publish a post with a hash tag (# + some words) in the title.  This ensures that my post pops up in searches on that given topic…just in case anyone wondered.

This year a new standardized assessment is on the scene: The Georgia Milestones.

I was spending time with one of my best friends who is also a teacher when I first heard the phrase.  “So this new assessment, I think they’re calling it Georgia Milestones, should be interesting,” he said.  My ears perked up.  The CRCT was going away?  The Georgia Department of Education was going to ramp up the end-of-the-year test to align it with the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards (CCGPS).

Fast-forward to this fall where I was provided with an opportunity to actually look at the contents of the test and evaluate some of the test items.  Of course, I cannot go into detail about exactly what I saw, but I used today’s lesson as an opportunity for the students to see what the Georgia DOE (Department of Education) has shared with the public to date.  We the Georgia Milestones overview portion of the lesson as an opportunity to field any questions that arose.

Thereafter, the students were given a serious choice: what version of the lesson were they going to do next?

They were allowed to ask me 5 questions total about the two lesson options and then had to use their newly-acquired knowledge to choose either Option A or Option B.  I then revealed the options:

  • Option A: 
    • Create a writing prompt based on one of the following articles from the “Reality Central” book:
      • ›“Debating Ratings” page 20
      • “American Dreaming” page 32
      • ›“Heroes without Haloes” page 168
  • Option B:
    • Create a writing prompt based on one of the music videos below:
      • “When I’m Small” by Phantogram (embedded below)
      • “Black Out Days” by Phantogram (embedded below)

Whatever the students did not complete in class was then assigned as homework.

Georgia Milestones Resources Used in Class:


  • Read for 30 minutes
  • Complete “Create-A-Prompt” assignment if it was not completed in class (see above)


1.13.15 Milestones Overview

The Anatomy (and Purpose) of a Constructed Response

With the shift away from the CRCT and the 8th grade Georgia Middle Grades Writing Assessment to the Georgia Milestones (the new, end-of grade standards-based assessment), students need to be informed of how to more clearly show what they know through their writing.  In essence, the CRCT provided standards-based questions for Social Studies, Math, Science, Reading, and English Language arts in multiple choice format only.  The 8th grade Georgia Middle Grades Writing Assessment, on the other hand, required 8th graders (this assessment was also given at the 5th grade level) to read a writing prompt and construct a timed essay in roughly 100 minutes.  The Georgia Milestones provides a hybrid of these two testing formats and issues them to all students of all grade levels (with grade-appropriate questions, passages, etc.).

Today’s lesson used yesterday’s “Response to a Response” assignment as a segue into understanding the constructed responses (student-created answers) the students will be asked to provide on the upcoming Georgia Milestones.

So, what is a “constructed response”?  According to the ASCD (The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development), a “constructed response” is where students provide their own answer to a question as opposed to multiple choice questions where students are provided with four or five answer choices or “fill-in-blank” questions where students have to, well, fill in the blank based upon their accumulated content knowledge.  The goal is to provide an assessment that helps students show what they know as accurately as possible.

I took time to show the students examples of constructed response questions (a.k.a. prompts) and actual student answers from published tests ( example below).  Not only will knowing how to answer constructed response questions benefit students on the upcoming Georgia Milestones, but will help students better address similar assessment questions in high school and college.  Furthermore, it will help students better cite and expound upon any evidence they draw from outside sources when communicating through any media (especially written media).

Constructed Response Example



  • Read for 30 minutes.