Build a constructed response burger. On the top, place a topic sentence bun. In the middle, add the meat. (That’s the supporting details, of course.) At the end, finish up with a conclusion, or bottom bun. Kids really “get” this craft. As a result, they become better paragraph writers.
Constructed Response in Ms. Sneed’s Classroom
Our favorite fourth grade teacher, Ms. Sneed, wants her kids to write better responses. So she’s trying a few new tactics. Last week, they made constructed response cubes. That really energized their answering questions unit. Now she’d like to try another craft.
Ms. Sneed takes another spin on Pinterest. She types “constructed response craft.” No. Nothing of interest there. How about “paragraph craft”? Hey, now we’re talking. Many of the pins feature hamburgers.
Ms. Sneed’s wheels start turning. She purchases a little clip art, and away she goes.
The Top Bun of the Constructed Response Burger – Topic Sentence
On the first page, Ms. Sneed places the top bun. It represents the topic sentence. She thinks about what she wants – and what kids have trouble with. More than anything, she wants them to use question parts and answer the question.
The Meat of the Constructed Response Burger – Supportive Details
On the next page, she places three hamburger patties. Yes, that should do it. But wait, what about citing? After a little thought, she adds a slice of cheese to one patty. That should help them remember to cite.
The Bottom Bun of the Constructed Response Burger – Conclusion
The last page features the bottom bun. True, not all responses have conclusions. But Ms. Sneed wants her kids to wrap things up. The hamburger analogy works well with this.
“Hmm,” thinks Ms. Sneed, “this is the perfect opportunity to get started with transitions.” She adds a list of transition terms commonly used with conclusions.
“Today,” Ms. Sneed tells her class, “we will be answering questions. You will be required to construct thorough responses.”
Everyone slumps. Some students groan. “No! Not again!” calls a curly-headed girl.
“Would anyone like to do a craft instead?” Ms. Sneed asks.
The class perks up. Some kids nod their heads up and down. A boy – who had been cutting up his eraser – stops. “What kind of craft?” he asks.
“You will be building a burger. First, you’ll read this article about dinosaurs’ eating habits.” (With the mention of dinosaurs, some kids sit up even straighter.)
“Then you will build a burger to answer a question. On the top bun, you’ll write the topic sentence. Then write supporting evidence on these three beef patties.” As Ms. Sneed points to them on the page, she notices that everyone is paying attention. A little smile appears on her face. “Finally, you’ll write a conclusion on the bottom bun.”
“Can we cut them out?” wonders a student in the back of the room.
“Yes, by all means! Cut them out, glue them on some construction paper, and even color them, if you want. Now let’s get started!”
Alternatives to Constructed Response
Kids need practice constructing responses. But it doesn’t have to be boring. Try some alternatives! For example, have kids roll constructed response cubes, build burgers, hold friendly competitions, and collaborate. Everyone – including the teacher – will be happier.
Over the course of her career, Ms. Sneed realized that there were 6 steps to enjoy teaching. In order to survive, she had to organize, plan, and simplify. Then, to thrive, Ms. Sneed needed to learn, engage, and finally – dive in! Follow the Fabulous Teaching Adventures of Ms. Sneed and learn how you can enjoy teaching too.