Reading Responses: The ISAAC Method

How many times have you been asked to “respond to” something you have to read, whether in school, at work, or in some other scenario? I found at the beginning of the school year that I was expecting my students to be able to respond thoughtfully and deeply to articles that I thought would be naturally thought-provoking (and they likely were, but I wasn’t able to properly evaluate whether my students were thinking about the ideas on the reflective level I was aiming for.) I realized I may need to teach critical analysis more overtly. I designed the following checklist for reading responses. We practice this 2-3 times a week in our high school Planning and English classes.

I made it clear that the student does not need to complete every single item on the checklist, but that they should include at least one item from each section. I evaluate their responses by marking when I see each of the I, S, An, Ad, and C sections, and respond with a comment or two to their writing.

If you’d like to try this in your own class, you are welcome to try this method. Let me know if you have success or suggestions for improvement.

INTRODUCE
☐Provide context for the big idea of this passage.
☐Introduce significant topics, themes, settings, and characters.

SUMMARIZE
☐Concisely summarize or restate the main points. Don’t restate large sections of the article; keep it brief.

ANALYZE
☐Interpret literary devices or poetic devices (metaphor, symbol, personification, allusion, hyperbole, simile).
☐Reflect on the topics, themes, settings, and actions mentioned.
☐State what you believe the author’s intent for writing is.

ADD
☐Make connections between the text and yourself, between the text and the world, or between the text and another text.
☐Respond with your own questions about the text.
☐Pose a question of your own.

CONCLUDE
☐Give an overall recap of the big idea.

Respond

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