Content Card – Details, Details, Details

Details and examples are one of those areas that students have struggled with when writing.  Being able to cite details and examples is a skill that is valuable in reading, writing, thinking, and speaking.  What are some of the things we might want to make sure students learn when we ask them to think about details and examples?  We might want them to know what kinds of things are details: facts, quotes, statistics, firgurative language, the information in a visual, sensory details, and more.  We also want students to know some of the things they can do with details:  compare and contrast ideas, support a point of view, oppose a point of view, make a decision, describe a character, make inferences, make prediections, and more.  As always, I’ve got a pdf copy for you – just print it out and share it with your students (and fellow educators).

Content Card, Details

Exit Slips

Exit slips are as tool to check for understanding and get a sense of where your kids are on just about any topic you want.  They are so easy to implement.

I’ve written basic directions and examples for using exit slips in your classroom.

Don’t let this idea slip away!

Click here to download the three-page document for working with exit slips.


A quick-write is a literacy strategy that can be used in any content area.  In this activity you give students a topic or let them choose one of their own and then give them five minutes or so to write quickly about the topic.

I’ve included brief directions for using Quick-Writes with your students and an example of how to have students fill in their writing logs.

Download the materials now and give the technique a try!

Analysis Questions – Bar Graphs

One of the simplest things you can do to help students think deeply about visual material is to write analysis questions for the different types of visuals you use with students.  This example is for bar graphs – and I’ve included two examples to give you an idea of how these questions might look.  (I’ll be adding a whole series of analysis questions for different types of visuals, so be sure to check back often and/or subscribe to this blog.)

Overview Sheet – Analysis Questions, Bar Graphs

Analysis Questions, Bar Graph, Band Instrument Choices

Analysis Questions, Bar Graph, 3D Movies

After students talk about the information in the graphs, based on the guiding questions you provide, have them write a summary of what the graph says.  You can make this a short and sweet summary that uses bullet statements or you can have students write a full paragraph.  When you give students a chance to talk about the questions BEFORE having them write, they’ll do a much better job with the summary.

Use the graphs.  Get students talking about the information in the graphs.  Watch them develop deeper understanding because you guided them through deeper thinking of the material.  And as always, don’t forget to add your own good questions.  You may even want to add some here!

An Activity to Help Students Write Conclusions

Have you ever struggled with helping students write a good conclusion?  This is a simple and powerful activity I designed to help students understand the difference.  Download the pdf of the strategy, which includes directions, a template, and an answer sheet for this activity.  I designed this for the elementary level, but this is easily adapted to the secondary level by using more sophisticated examples.  The Hot Miss phrase is from Amy Hooper, a wonderful teacher at Axton Elementary in Virginia.

MEAP Constructed Response Reading

I designed this handout to provide some ideas related to the Reading constructed response items for the Fall 2009 MEAP test.  In this short piece, I share the item descriptors for the reading constructed response items in grades 3 through 8, examples of the kinds of questions we can ask students when they read, a link to helpful documents, and specific action steps you can take now in relation to helpings students think about the things they read.

Download the document and see if there are some ideas that will be useful to you.