Targeting the taks open-Ended Response

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Targeting the TAKS Open-Ended Response

  • Hitting the Mark in the ELA Classroom
  • 41st Annual Conference
  • January 20, 2006
  • Welcome!
  • Diane Peterson Education Specialist, Secondary Language Arts 713.744.6829
  • Writing Responses for the TAKS Open-Ended Items
  • Examine open-ended item student responses to identify the qualities and components of a successful response. Participants will analyze the TAKS Reading Rubrics and discuss the resultant “best practices” in the ELA classroom.
  • Plans
  • Successful responses—what should be included?
  • 2. Content scoring—what skills does the open-ended item assess?
  • 3. Best practices—what should I see in the ELA classroom?
  • Curriculum
  • Assessment
  • Instruction
  • Improved Student Achievement
  • Written Curriculum (TEKS) Identified Standards
  • Taught Curriculum Opportunity to Learn the Standards
  • Tested Curriculum (TAKS) Measures the Attainment of the Standards
  • English, 2000

Successful Responses

  • What should be included?
  • What Is the “OER”?
  • The TAKS open-ended items are three short answer questions that require the student to write a multi-sentence response. These items are based upon the “triplet” found in the Reading/ELA section of TAKS assessments for grades 9-11 Exit.
  • OER = Open-Ended Response
  • What Is the Triplet?
  • 1st Part:
  • a published literary work, either a short story or an excerpt from a novel
  • What Is the Triplet?
  • 2nd Part:
  • a published expository (informational, nonfiction) passage, either an article from a newspaper or magazine, an excerpt from a memoir, a journal entry, essay, editorial, or an excerpt from a biography or autobiography
  • What Is the Triplet?
  • 3rd Part:
  • a visual media selection reflecting a web page, advertisement, or poster which enables students to make visual connections to the other two passages
  • What Is the Triplet?
  • 1st part (literary) +
  • 2nd part (expository) +
  • 3rd part (visual media) =
  • a thematically-linked triplet!

What “Parts” Are Needed for a Successful Response?

  • TWO-PARTER: Students must offer a reasonable idea and pull textual evidence that validates that idea.
  • THREE-PARTER: Change questions call for two pieces of evidence.
  • FOUR-PARTER: Cross-over responses must include analysis from each piece and evidence from each piece.
  • Crafting a Response
  • 1. Provide a clear answer to the question.
  • 2. Provide multiple pieces of support directly from the passage. Direct quotations (usually partial), paraphrases (author’s words in student writer’s own words), or synopses (specific summary) are acceptable. All sentences should connect to each other and it should be clear why the evidence given is significant to the answer.
  • 3. Connect the answer to the support. This is not done with a separate sentence but should be clear from the idea and choice of evidence.
  • 4. Craft the answer into a coherent, logical progression of ideas and evidence that answers the question fully and proves the statement.
  • Why Use OER Items?
  • TAKS open-ended items are short answer questions such as those typically asked of English/Language Arts students in class.
  • They are linked to TAKS Objectives 2 and 3 and the corresponding foundational TEKS (10B).
  • This provides a clear connection between the TAKS assessment and classroom instruction.

Content Scoring

  • What skills does the
  • open-ended item assess?

Content Scoring

  • Items are part of the reading portion of the TAKS and are content scored.
  • Responses must include a reasonable idea (analysis) and textual support (evidence).
  • Writing skills are not assessed here. Only clarity is mentioned in the rubrics.
  • These responses are judged conceptually, not contextually.

What Skill is Tested (TEKS)?

  • (10) Reading/literary response. The student expresses and supports responses to various types of texts. The student is expected to:
  • (B) use elements of text to defend, clarify, and negotiate responses and interpretations.
  • Types of Items
  • Objective 2: The student will apply knowledge of literary elements to understand culturally diverse written texts.
  • The first open-ended item is based on the literary selection.
  • Types of Items
  •  Objective 3: The student will demonstrate the ability to analyze and critically evaluate culturally diverse written texts and visual representations.
  • The second item is based on the expository selection.
  • Types of Items
  •  Objective 3: The student will demonstrate the ability to analyze and critically evaluate culturally diverse written texts and visual representations.
  • The third item is based on both selections.

What Are Rubrics?

  • Powerful instructional tools that clarify expectations
  • Explicitly worded descriptions for each score point
  • Teaching is targeted.
  • Student performance is focused.

Three Rubrics

  • There is a specific rubric for each open-ended item.
  • Examine each rubric (literary, expository, and crossover) for similarities and differences of each score point.

Students as Self-Assessors

  • “Students who are taught to use criteria know when they are doing well, without waiting for outside confirmation, and when things go wrong, they know what to do about it.”
  • Spandel, 2001

0 Insufficient

  • Too general or vague to determine whether it is reasonable
  • ~OR~
  • Incorrect interpretation not based on text
  • ~OR~
  • Plot summary

1 Partially Sufficient

  • Analysis only
  • ~OR~
  • Evidence only
  • ~OR~
  • Analysis-Evidence connection unclear or vague

2 Sufficient

  • Analysis and relevant evidence present
  • Analysis-Evidence connection clear and specific

3 Exemplary

  • Using Student Responses
    • Read the passage, annotate, discuss.
    • 3. View the appropriate rubric.
    • 4. Answer the item with a partner, save responses.
    • 5. View the components of a successful answer.
    • 7. Evaluate responses in light of samples.
    • 2. View the Open-Ended Item.
    • 6. View the samples and discuss their scoring.

Best Practices

  • What should I see in the ELA classroom?

Research Confirms

  • All students benefit from a strong reading and writing connection.
  • When students respond through writing to what they have read, writing and reading improve.
  • Written responses require higher-order thinking and critical-thinking skills.


  • “Thoughtful Literacy”
  • Remembering
  • Understanding
  • ______________________________________
  • Recitation of Texts
  • Consideration and Discussion of Texts
  • Alllington, 2001
  • We should “construct lessons that help make the comprehension processes visible.”
  • Students need “demonstrations of effective strategy use.”
  • “Thoughtful Literacy”
  • Alllington, 2001
  • systematic,
  • explicit
  • instruction
  • teacher
  • modeling
  • guided
  • practice
  • independent
  • practice
  • assessing progress
  • and
  • adjusting
  • instruction
  • systematic,
  • explicit
  • instruction
  • teacher
  • modeling
  • guided
  • practice
  • independent
  • practice
  • assessing progress
  • and
  • adjusting
  • instruction
      • explicit, systematic instruction
      • model and demonstrate strategies
      • guided practice
      • independent practice
      • monitor and assess student progress
  • Gradual Release Model

Teaching the OER

  • Finding Evidence
  • Citing Evidence
    • using quotes, paraphrase, and synopsis
    • learning when to use each type of evidence
  • Connecting evidence to analysis (or answer)
  • Remember—this is not a connection to “real world” or a new idea!
  • Comparing works of literature (or art)

Teaching the OER

  • Students need multiple, frequent opportunities to practice the skills involved in successfully responding to an open-ended item.
  • Teachers must model the skills involved and provide opportunities for guided practice before independent practice or assessment.
  • Since multiple skills are involved, teachers must focus on the discrete skills as well as the “big picture.”

What About the Writing Process?

  • Since multiple skills are involved, teachers must focus on the discrete skills as well as the “big picture.”
    • Analyzing texts to find an answer
  • (close reading, annotating, graphic organizers, discussion, questioning)
    • Forming a coherent answer

What About the Writing Process?

  • (1) Writing/purposes. The student writes in a variety of forms, including business, personal, literary, and persuasive texts, for various audiences and purposes. The student is expected to:
  • (B) write in a voice and style appropriate to audience and purpose; and
  • (C) organize ideas in writing to ensure coherence, logical progression, and support for ideas.

What About the Writing Process?

  • Writing/writing processes. The student uses recursive writing processes when appropriate.
  • The student is expected to:
  • (B) develop drafts by organizing and reorganizing content and by refining style to suit occasion, audience, and purpose; and
  • (C) proofread writing for appropriateness of organization, content, style, and conventions.

What About the Writing Process?

  • Even though the open-ended item is part of the reading assessment, the writing process still applies as the students craft their responses.
  • 1. Prewriting the parts
  • 2. Rough draft in test booklet
  • 3. Final copy in the lined boxes

Close Reading

  • CLOSE READING is a careful application of a “microscope” or “binoculars” to a text, enabling the reader to go beyond literal meaning and experience the author’s craft.
  • ANNOTATING is the backbone of close reading.

What is Annotating?

  • For use while reading or rereading
  • Helps readers reach a deeper level of engagement
  • Promotes active reading
  • “Dialogue with the text” (Probst)
  • A visible record of the thoughts that emerge while making sense of the reading
  • A writing-to-learn strategy

Teaching the OER

  • Ask students to identify the ways readers think about text while reading, such as:
      • Making predictions
      • Asking questions
      • Stating opinions
      • Analyzing the author’s craft
      • Making connections
      • Reflecting on the content
      • Reflecting on their own reading process

Annotation Bookmark

  • Examine the front and back covers (books)
  • Read the title and any subtitles
  • Examine the illustrations
  • Examine the print (bold, italics, etc.)
  • Examine the way the text is set up (book, short story, diary, dialogue, article, etc.)
  • As you examine and read these, write questions, and make predictions and/or connections near these parts of the text.

Annotation Bookmark

  • Mark in the text:
    • Characters (who)
    • When (setting)
    • Where (setting)
    • Vocabulary ~~~~~
    • _______ Important information

Annotation Bookmark

  • Write in the margins:
    • Summarize
    • Make predictions
    • Formulate opinions
    • Make connections
    • Ask questions
    • Analyze the author’s craft
    • Write reflections/reactions/comments
    • Look for patterns/repetitions

Annotation Bookmark

    • Reread annotations—draw conclusions
    • Reread introduction and conclusion—try to figure out something new
    • Examine patterns/repetitions—determine possible meanings
    • Determine what the title might mean
  • Use the “After Reading” strategies to write
  • a notebook entry.

How to Teach Annotating

  • Use short story that can be read in one period
  • Make each student a copy of story
  • Make a transparency of each page
  • Give students Annotating Bookmarks
  • Make a transparency of Bookmark
  • Create a coding system with different marks for surface meaning and deep-meaning ideas

Annotation Lesson

  • Have students mark text using coding system.
  • Stop at end of page.
  • Allow students to go back and add marks.
  • Ask students to share what they have marked.
  • Make the same marks on the transparency.
  • Ask for comments and write in margin.
  • Read first page to students while they read along.

Annotation Methods

  • Photocopy the document.
  • Use a dialectical journal.
  • Use index cards.
  • Use Post-it® notes or flags.
  • Use highlighter tape.

Research-Based Questioning Strategies

  • Creating Questions
  • Use question stems to create questions for literary pieces you are reading in class.
  • Literary Stems
  • What was one conflict ____ faced in “_____”?
  • In “____” how does ____ connect to _____? 
  • How does _____ change from the beginning to the end of “___”? 
  • What is the major conflict _____ faces in “_____”? 
  • Creating Questions
  • Literary Stems
  • In “______,” what does ____ learn from his/her experience with ____?
  • In “_____,” why does ____ ____? (character) (action)
  • Creating Questions
  • Expository Stems
  • In “_____,” has ____ fulfilled his/her dream?
  • In “_____,” how have the author’s experiences shaped his/her attitude toward others?
  • How does the author’s attitude toward _____ change over the course of “_____”?
  • Creating Questions
  • Expository Stems
  • Why is “_____” a good title for this selection?
  • Why are memories of _____ important to _____?
  • In “____,” who do you think is more successful, ____ or ____?
  • Creating Questions
  • Crossover Stems
  • How does the idea of taking a risk apply to both “___” and “___”?
  • How do the parents in “___” and “____” attempt to share their cultural heritage with their children?
  • Which of the siblings from “____” and “____” would you like to have as a brother/sister?
  • Creating Questions
  • Crossover Stems
  • How is the concept of __ important in both “___” and “__”?
  • How is the idea of ____important in both “___” and “___”?
  • What is one characteristic shared by (____) and (____). char. from lit. passage char. from exp. Passage
  • How is ___ an important theme in both “___” and “___”?
  • Text-Based Responses

Types of Evidence

  • What?
  • verbatim words, phrases, or parts of sentences from the text
  • When?
  • author’s exact words are necessary and will add depth, precision, or reliability to the response

Types of Evidence

  • What?
  • restatement of author’s words preserving the main ideas and key details
  • When?
  • ideas could be clarified or original word choice is irrelevant

Types of Evidence

  • What?
  • a focused choice of linked portions; not a plot summary
  • When?
  • several portions are needed to serve as textual evidence

  • Pairing Works
  • Use paired works in class frequently.
  • Genres/Forms to consider in pairing works
  • Films/“Movies” Television Shows
  • Songs Poems
  • Research Findings Magazine Articles
  • Artwork Web Pages
  • Pairing Works
  • The Catcher in the Rye  “Acquainted with the Night”
  • by J.D. Salinger by Robert Frost
  • Novel Poem
  • Example Connection: The city as a lonely, uncomfortable place
  • Pairing Works
  • To Kill a Mockingbird  Radio
  • by Harper Lee By Mike Rich
  • Novel Film
  • Example Connection: Men attempting to effect a change in racial tolerance
  • Pairing Works
  • Romeo and Juliet  “Teen Love Hurts: Falling In Love Makes Teens Prone to Depression and Alcohol Abuse”
  • by William Shakespeare by Malcolm Ritter
  • Novel News Article
  • Example Connection: The negative effects of teenagers falling in love
  • Pairing Works
  • The Gettysburg Address”  “Frederick Douglass”
  • by Abraham Lincoln by Robert Hayden
  • Speech Poem
  • Example Connection: Leaving legacies beyond physical monuments


  • Allington, Richard L. What Really Matters for Struggling Readers: Designing Research-Based Programs. New York: Longman, 2001.
  • Berthoff, Ann E. “Dialectical Notebooks and the Audit of Meaning.” The Journal Book. Ed. Toby Fulwieler. Portsmouth: Boynton/Cook, 1987. 11-18.
  • English, Fenwick W. Deciding What to Teach and Test: Developing, Aligning, and Auditing the Curriculum. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, Inc., 2000.
  • Porter-O’Donnell. “Beyond the Yellow Highlighter.” English Journal 93.5 (2004): 82-89.
  • Probst, Robert E. “Dialogue with a Text.” English Journal 77.1 (1988): 32-38.
  • Spandel, Vicki. Creating Writers Through 6-Trait Writing Assessment and Instruction. New York: Addison Wesley Longman, 2001.
  • Thank you!
  • If you design or observe teaching strategies that really work for the OER, please let me know!
  • Diane Peterson
  • 713-744-6829

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