2nd Edition

Better Answers Written Performance That Looks Good and Sounds Smart

By Ardith Cole Copyright 2009

    Student's writing skills are improving tremendously… Last year's fourth-graders started using the sandwich method mid-year and almost all of them scored in the highest possible category when they took the state's standardized English-language arts test just a few months later. Wells Central Schools, Wells Central is just one of numerous schools that attribute their success to Ardith Davis Cole's Better Answers process. Since 2002, her book Better Answers has offered teachers and school districts a powerful alternative to test-prep workbooks. It presents a dramatically different instructional model that helps students construct thoughtful test responses, but it also prepares them for any task requiring thorough, cogent answers to questions and prompts -- both in and out of school. Now, with students tested more frequently than ever, and with teachers increasingly concerned about incorporating substantive test-taking skills into children's learning, Ardith Cole responds with a new updated and expanded edition of Better Answers. Informed by Ardith's ongoing work in classrooms where students struggle over constructed-response tasks, the new edition makes the Better Answers sandwich even easier to implement. The book has also been significantly reorganized, as well as expanded to include two new chapters, Understanding the Prompt and What to do When. Also included is a resource-packed CD-ROM that contains everything teachers need to support their lessons and is a great tool for staff development: lesson plans for text-based and self-based responses; power point slides, charts, and other visual supports; sets of sample texts with prompts; sample student responses; assessment forms; extensive bibliography of print and online resources. The Better Answers process is easy to grasp and uses a gradual-release instructional process that begins with teacher modeling, invites increasing amounts of student participation, and eventually moves students into independent response writing. The book clearly explains each element of the process and provides helpful activities, authentic classroom vignettes, and tips on how to handle typical stumbling blocks along the way.

    Preface, PART I Prewriting: Setting the Stage for Success CHAPTER 1 Getting Started with the Foundations for Success CHAPTER 2 Understanding the Prompt PART II Writing: Constructing a Response CHAPTER 3 Getting Started with the Better Answer Protocol CHAPTER 4 Step 1: Develop an Introduction CHAPTER 5 Step 2: Build a Body of Details CHAPTER 6 Step 3: Draw a Conclusion PART III Post-writing: Assessment and Our Response to It CHAPTER 7 Getting Started with Assessment and Its Response CHAPTER 8 Constructive Assessment CHAPTER 9 What to Do When ...: Responding to Assessment CHAPTER 10 Afterword: Get Real


    For over thirty years, Ardith Davis Cole has served the profession in a variety of capacities, from classroom teacher to literacy specialist. She has worked with students from grades K-12, but also with their teachers as she became an adjunct professor for reading/language arts courses at SUNY Buffalo and Buffalo State College. I love the spirit and curiosity of the kids, the camaraderie of my colleagues, the excitement of the process, and the ever-unfolding content, Ardith says of her teaching experiences. An active professional, she has held several offices in both the local and state reading associations, and for the past two decades her name could usually be found among the list of presenters at national, state, and local conferences. She has received numerous awards, most recently the University of Buffalo's Outstanding Alumnae Award for the Year 2000. Her approach to professional development is similar to her classroom approach. It involves teacher demonstrations, shared partnering, supported instruction, group discussions, independent activities, and assessment. I incorporate a variety of media, which includes videos and PowerPoint slides. She has three children and four grandchildren, and she now resides in Port Townsend, Washington, where it doesn't snow.