The Return to School (a.k.a. Learning about Constructed Responses)

The students trickled groggily into the hallways of school today, some struggled to remember their locker combinations, some couldn’t wait to show off their new Christmas/Hanukkah outfits, and others surprised their friends with belated gifts.  The return to school after any extended break is like starting up a car that has been sitting unused in a car port; it takes a minute for all of the pieces of the machine to re-engage and remember the flow of things.

Today, as we settled back into our day-to-day routine, we began exploring the world of constructed responses.  I first showed the students an array of Op-Ed articles to get their minds thinking about a variety of issues including the anticipation of New Year’s Eve, the “best” and “worst” of 2014, and the cancelled and then reinstated release of “The Interview”.  After a brief discussion, the students shared what they observed about the structure of Op-Ed writings, the topics explored by the writers, the opinion of the writers, and what support was used in these pieces.  In an activity called “Response to the Response,” they then had the opportunity to read and respond to one of the two Op-Ed pieces below in a three paragraph response:


  • Read for 30 minutes.
  • Finish whatever was not completed in class with in the “Response to the Response” activity.


Monday, November 12th, 2012

This Monday, the students were introduced to our second unit.  With Expository Writing as the focus, I took the time to present the students with a “showcase” of examples of Expository Writing in the real world.  These examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Travel information
  • News articles
  • Owner’s Manuals/Instruction Manuals
  • Informational Text
  • Reports (such as):
    • Police reports
    • Experiment/Lab reports
    • Research Reports, etc.

After our showcase, the students completed a timed writing on any of the topics below:

oExplain why you admire a particular person.
oDescribe the major stressors in teens’ lives.
oExplain why you do (or do not) like to work in a team.
oExplain how music affects your life.
HOMEWORK: Read for 30 minutes, bring any library books that need to be returned back to school, and study for the Benchmark Exam.