Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Reading a Writing Prompt

Reading a Writing Prompt

Sometimes you look at what you need to do, 
and just feel as if you have to cross a wide ocean, 
and you don't know how you're going to do it. 

A RAFT would help
-- for the ocean and for understanding the prompt. 

Here are some task words: 
Notice that most of these are VERBS.  
They tell you what you need to DO!

You don't need to read through all of these.  Just notice that some of the verbs include ARGUE, EXPLAIN, and verbs like COMPARE and CONTRAST.

Table of task words  from
WordsWhat they (might) mean...
Account forExplain, clarify, give reasons for. (Quite different from "Give an account of which is more like 'describe in detail').
AnalyseBreak an issue down into its component parts, discuss them and show how they interrelate.
AssessConsider the value or importance of something, paying due attention to positive, negative and disputable aspects, and citing the judgements of any known authorities as well as your own.
ArgueMake a case, based on appropriate evidence for and/or against some given point of view.
Comment onToo vague to be sure, but safe to assume it means something more than 'describe' or 'summarise' and more likely implies 'analyse' or 'assess'.
CompareIdentify the characteristics or qualities two or more things have in common (but probably pointing out their differences as well).
ContrastPoint out the difference between two things (but probably point out their similarities as well).
CriticiseSpell out your judgement as to the value or truth of something, indicating the criteria on which you base your judgement and citing specific instances of how the criteria apply in this case.
DefineMake a statement as to the meaning or interpretation of something, giving sufficient detail as to allow it to be distinguished from similar things.
DescribeSpell out the main aspects of an idea or topic or the sequence in which a series of things happened.
DiscussInvestigate or examine by argument. Examine key points and possible interpretations, sift and debate, giving reasons for and against. Draw a conclusion.
EvaluateMake an appraisal of the worth of something, in the light of its apparent truth; include your personal opinion. Like 'assess'.
EnumerateList some relevant items, possibly in continuous prose (rather than note form) and perhaps 'describe' them (see above) as well.
ExaminePresent in depth and investigate the implications.
ExplainTell how things work or how they came to be the way they are, including perhaps some need to 'describe' and to 'analyse' (see above). 
To what extent...? Explore the case for a stated proposition or explanation, much in the manner of 'assess' and 'criticise' (see above), probably arguing for a less than total acceptance of the proposition.
How far Similar to 'to what extent...?' (see above) 
Identify Pick out what you regard as the key features of something, perhaps making clear the criteria you use. 
Illustrate Similar to 'explain' (see above), but probably asking for the quoting of specific examples or statistics or possibly the drawing of maps, graphs, sketches etc. 
InterpretClarify something or 'explain' (see above), perhaps indicating how the thing relates to some other thing or perspective.
JustifyExpress valid reasons for accepting a particular interpretation or conclusion, probably including the need to 'argue' (see above) a case.
OutlineIndicate the main features of a topic or sequence of events, possibly setting them within a clear structure or framework to show how they interrelate.
ProveDemonstrate the truth of something by offering irrefutable evidence and/or logical sequence of statements leading from evidence to conclusion.
ReconcileShow how two apparently opposed or mutually exclusive ideas or propositions can be seen to be similar in important respects, if not identical. Involves need to 'analyse' and 'justify' (see above).
Relate Either 'explain' (see above) how things happened or are connected in a cause-and-effect sense, or may imply 'compare' and 'contrast' (see above).
Review Survey a topic, with the emphasis on 'assess' rather than 'describe' (see above).
StateExpress the main points of an idea or topic, perhaps in the manner of 'describe' or 'enumerate' (see above).
Summarise'State' (see above) the main features of an argument, omitting all superfluous detail and side-issues.
TraceIdentify the connection between one thing and another either in a developmental sense over a period of time, or else in a cause and effect sense. May imply both 'describe' and 'explain' (see above).

Strong key words tell you WHAT you are writing about. 

 Read together through the first two examples and their RAFTS. 

Prompt Examples:  Click on this image to make it larger. 


Role:  student in a science class
Audience: your science class
Format: essay, argument essay -- to be posted on a web site
Task:  (Find the verbs that tell you what you are supposed to do) 
     write, argue, base (on the passages you are given), manage, plan, revise, edit, include (a claim), use (evidence), do not over rely (on one source), type
Strong key words: discoveries, mistakes, worth it,  greatness or disaster,  key

Central idea made using words from the prompt: 
    Mistakes are key to making great discoveries.
    Mistakes are not key to making great discoveries.


Click on this one to make it larger:


Role:  yourself
Audience:  your teacher (and perhaps your class members)
Format:  1-3 informational paragraphs (probably a short condensed essay) Notice that this is NOT an argument.  It is meant to teach, to inform.
Task:  write, explain, base (on the passages provided), manage, plan, write, revise, edit, type
Strong key words:  animals use bodies sense world 

Central idea made using words from the prompt: 
Animals use their bodies to sense the world around them.

Pass out a worksheet for this one.  Do your best with a partner to fill out the RAFTS for this prompt.  Then take it up to the teacher (or to assigned students) to have it corrected.  All correct earns extra credit.  After it is checked, turn it in to the wire basket. 

Practice --  with a partner

More Prompts-- (If you were absent, try these on your own.  Fill out RAFTS for each of these prompts, then check your answers on the post linked below.)

Strong Key Words:

Answers for RAFTS Prompt Practice

Pass out a worksheet for this one.  Do your best on your own to fill out the RAFTS for this prompt.  Then take it up to the teacher (or to assigned students) to have it corrected.  All correct earns extra credit.   After it is checked, turn it in to the wire basket. 
Practice --  on your own  (watch carefully for who the audience is)

Strong Key Words:

Answers for RAFTS Prompt Practice

If there is time, you will read an article about St. Patrick's Day and answer the attached questions.   Keep those in your folders unless you finish.  If finished, hand it in.