RACES writing strategy practice is an extremely powerful solution for ELA Test Prep and teaching your students how to answer text dependent questions, specifically, long or extended constructed responses. My resource, RACES Strategy Practice Passages and Constructed Response Prompts for 3rd 4th 5th Grade is here to solve your dilemma!
Does the thought of test prep make you (and your students) anxious? Trust me, you’re not alone. I’ve spent endless hours trying to determine the best approach for teaching my students how to answer those long, text dependent questions in a concise, thorough manner without summarizing the entire passage. Have you been in my shoes?
But what if I told you I have a solution to your problem. What if test prep could be more enjoyable rather than a daunting task? RACES writing strategy practice has saved me (and my students) endless time and aggravation and has actually helped to raise my students’ test scores.
What is RACES Writing Strategy?
RACES is an acronym for the following:
S= Summarize (Optional)
RACES or RACE Constructed Response is the writing strategy used to structure students’ responses, and ensure they are not only restating and answering the question asked, but also citing text evidence and explaining the evidence chosen, IN THEIR OWN WORDS. The key to success and meeting the standard is in the EXPLAIN step.
RACES Step 1: Restate and Answer
I always teach students to combine these two to ensure that ALL parts of the question is answered before explaining their thoughts.
What should you tell your students to ensure success!
Highlight the asking word(s) from the question in yellow. Underline any important or key words that you need for your answer. Recycle words from the question in your answer. Provide a general answer for all parts of the question, WITHOUT GIVING DETAILS.
The skill of restating a question is vital for not only state testing, but in every subject across the content area.
I find that many students struggle to actually answer the question asked in a short, concise manner, and more practice is always needed in this area. I created the resource below to offer students more exposure to this skill. This resource is perfect practice for 3rd, 4th and 5th grade and has been a key in my students mastering the R and E in RACES. I actually mirrored many of the questions in this resource to various released state testing questions from many states across the country. Click on the images to explore this resource in more detail.
RACES Step 2: Cite and explain Evidence
Citing evidence is also where many students struggle due to the simple fact that THEY DO NOT REFER BACK TO THE TEXT. Does this sound familiar? We really have to teach them to find the section of the text that actually supports their answer. I have created a graphic organizer in my RACES Writing Strategy Resource that helps with this step. Notice the sample response to the right using the RACES strategy to organize each section of the long response.
Notice, in the graphic organizer, students are asked to cite more than one piece of evidence. There are 3 sections to cite and explain. (Note: there may not always be 3 pieces of evidence, depending on the question.) By placing cite and explain together, students are forced to explain each piece of evidence.
The most important section of this graphic organizer is in EXPLAIN. This is where my students struggled for many years UNTIL I specifically taught them HOW to explain what they have cited. Notice in the sample above, students must make an inference when explaining their evidence. They are not just repeating the question. They are showing their understanding of what the question is actually asking by going beyond the author’s words. In the above example they are inferring HOW Richie showed PERSISTENCE.
Suggestion for your students:
- Be sure to tell where in the text you found the evidence.
- Make sure your evidence is organized.
- Use sentence stems to help you organize
- Include page or paragraph number – THIS FORCES STUDENTS TO GO BACK TO THE TEXT!
Possible Sentence Starters:
- For example . . .
- For instance . . .
- According to what I read . . .
- The Author said …
- From the book, I know that . . .
- On page ___ it said . . .
The sample below is the digital version of the RACES strategy writing resource and is included along with a PDF version in black and white for printing. Students also have a RACES anchor chart in the margin to help guide them.
RACEs Step 3: summarize (Optional)
This can be a simple statement that restates the answer in a different way. It SUMS up the response by showing students’ understanding of the question and the evidence cited.
Have students consider the following BEFORE explaining or summarizing their evidence:
- Go back and reread your answer
- Did you answer the entire question?
- Did you edit your answer for any missing words or unclear sentences?
Possible sentence starters:
- I believe . . .
- This proves . . .
- Now I know . . .
- This explains . . .
- This shows . . .
RACES Strategy writing Bundle
I have included everything from above in a RACES Strategy Practice Passage Constructed Response Prompts 3rd 4th 5th Grade BUNDLE. It includes:
- 10 RACES Strategy Writing Passages and Worksheets (Print and Digital)
- Restating the Questions Practice Passages
- RACES Strategy Writing Posters, Bookmarks and Rubric
RACES Practice Passage FREEbie
Explore this FREEBIE to get a glimpse into both RACES resources.
- 1 Practice Passage with possible answer
- Anchor Chart
- Graphic Organizer
- Book Mark
Click on the image or Explore it Here
I hope this post alleviates your test prep stress. Using RACES Writing Strategy Practice has helped so many of my students to meet and every once in a while exceed the standard on state testing.
If I can help you in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out! I’m only an email away!
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