The Teacher Tip

Responding to Students’ Writing as a Reader

April 20, 2017

from Dawn Latta Kirby and Darren Crovitz’s Inside Out: Strategies for Teaching Writing, fourth edition

The most significant role of any teacher or reader is that of a skilled responder, one who offers concrete, helpful suggestions about specific aspects of the writing. To respond means simply to react—orally or in writing—first as a reader rather than a teacher. The goal of the responder is to help writers discover what it is they want to say, and then to challenge them to say it as powerfully as possible.


Try this: Offer questions to the writer to guide him toward improvements. “What about a stronger verb than walk? The right word will help you capture and convey his mood.” Or, “I get a bit lost here. Why are your mother and her sister yelling?” These responses offer guidance and pose questions for the writer to consider while maintaining some dignity and quite a bit of authority. You don’t know the answer to your question; you’re asking legitimate questions as a reader.

To learn more about Inside Out: Strategies for Teaching Writing, click here

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