In literature circles, writing can
serve as a form of response that is both formal (demonstrating what
students have learned or thought as they read) and informal ("thinking
aloud on paper"). With guidance, students at all levels can
learn to use writing in both of these ways. Here are some
steps to take:
- Help students understand the
purpose for writing
• "Thinking aloud on paper": A way to generate and
shape what you're thinking about as you read or as you prepare for
• Formal synthesis: A way to refine ideas that have come up
during discussion and to mold them into something more formal
- Help students find a focus for
their writing: Show students where ideas for writing
can come from.
• Brainstorm ideas for writing;
• Model your own process of coming up with ideas for writing
and for shaping your writing
- Offer some tools for written
response: Open-ended questions, prompts, varied forms of written
• Use questions that come up during discussion as jumping-off
points for writing
• Open-ended questions: "How are you like this character?"
or "What do you think will happen next, and why?"
• Prompts: "I wonder...", "I wish ...",
"What if ....?"
• Diary entries in the voice of a character
• Cause/effect explanation
• Letters to characters (or from one character to another)
• Sketching or drawing
- Teach for in-depth response:
Model, discuss, and practice written response.
- Assess and evaluate written
response: Build students' skills through ongoing feedback