One of the things we know about teaching kids to respond to writing prompts or other longer prompts is that they often struggle to figure out WHAT the prompt is asking them to do!

I’ve come up with a quick five steps to teach kids (a la memorize!) how to decode a prompt or longer response question!

  1. Is there important language in the prompt that gives me clues about what kind of writing I should do?
  2. Should the language from the prompt be included in my writing?
  3. Are there unknown terms in the prompt that I need to figure out?
  4. Are there bullet points/call-out boxes in the prompt that give me clues or directions?What type of writing should I produce?
  5. What will it look like when I’ve finished?

What these questions will do is give kids direction as to the task of the prompt – it will help them focus on what they have to produce…and that’s half the battle!