In every class, in every subject, throughout their education, students will be required to respond to a prompt or question, especially on tests. They will need to support their answer/position/opinion/idea with details from a text. In sixth grade Reading Workshop, we will spend a lot of time learning how to write a detailed reply that will make sense and score well.
The first prompt focused on the book I am reading aloud, Swear to Howdy.
The questions were:
1. Why did Joey befriend Rusty when he first moved next door?
2. How would your response to a new neighbor be different?
We discussed the need to rewrite the question as a topic sentence. Also, we talked about how a two part question should be a minimum of two paragraphs. Supporting details from the book, and from personal experiences are needed to support the answer.
Below is an essay turned in by James E. that serves as a good example for a beginning sixth grader.
Rusty and Joey became best friends because they were a lot alike. I think they were friends the first day they met because Rusty liked playing with Joey. Rusty thought Joey was playful and adventurous. Joey liked taking Rusty places like fishing and he likes that. Rusty liked having someone to play with.
My response to a new neighbor would be that I might not like him and would not play with him. The new neighbor might not want to do anything I do. I might want to go outside he wouldn't.
Another response to a new neighbor might be that the neighbor and I would like to play together. We might like playing outside with each other. We could ride bikes down the road and have fun. We would play in the woods and become good friends.
James does a good job of turning the questions into topic sentences for each paragraph. He explained his answers by providing details so the reader can understand his points. He might have improved by just picking the one difference and expanding on that, but he does a good job of supporting both parts of the second answer.