How to Write a Constructed Response Answer

What are Constructed Responses?

Teaching students how to write a constructed response answer takes time.  Constructed response or performance-based questions for math are individual test items that would require students to create an answer rather than select a response.  Constructed response math questions could include fill-in-the-blank, short-answer, extended answer, open-response, and writing on-demand formats.

How to Write a Constructed Response Answer

The first step is to read the questions to find out WHAT they are solving for.  You have to teach the students HOW to use the highlighting tools early on.  You must remind them that this will help them to provide a complete response for each constructed response task.

I teach my students that we are going to ACE this Test!  Here is a sample of what the ACE strategy (Answer—Compute– Explain) looks like for math:


Remind Your student of the following:

          • Mathematical responses do not have to be in paragraph form
          • Grammar and spelling are not penalized in Math. 
          • Explanations can be a mixture of words and mathematical expressions or equations.

Model and Practice

I always give my students as many opportunities as possible to write out their responses.  I made a Math Constructed Response unit for third grade that I would use during small group math.  I could use these problems as a ticket-out-the-door or even as small assessments to see if they had mastered the standard.  

I made this unit with the standards clearly marked on each problem and I put multiple problems on a page to cut down on printing.  Sometimes I had them glue them into their interactive notebook and bring them to the back table for small group math.  Then I was able to read their responses and go into more detail about what they were missing.  It was a great component piece during test prep.


Math Constructed Response Rubric

I did not use a rubric during class time.  Teaching students what is on the testing rubric will definitely help them understand HOW they will be graded.   But I would not physically hand out a rubric to the students. 

I would also allow them the opportunity to correct a problem numerous times before taking it for a grade.  I felt it was important to finally get the right answer and then retest them with the same type of problem on another day.  

Remind your students that they will lose points for math constructed responses for the following:

        • Partially responds or leaving out key components of a full response 
        • Missing the connection between content and conceptual understanding

Make sure your students understand that whatever they write down is all that will be graded.  So often a student would say, “Oh I meant…” and I would explain that it is not what is intended or implied, but it is WHATEVER IS ON THE PAPER!!!

Finally, I would provide my students an opportunity to read and critique peer responses.  If someone answered a problem exceeding well we would place them on the bulletin board for others to read.  I liked to do this in the hall so when they lined up outside my door they could read how their peers answered the questions.  

Sample Test Questions

It is not hard to find sample test questions on the web.  Here is a 3rd grade Math Practice Test from the state of Louisiana.  When practicing, remind them to, “Show what you know!”   I would always ask questions during whole group Math and model for other students how to answer a problem with their words.  I would use phrases like “Explain your brain!”  “Why do you think that?” “How do you know?” to get them talking.

DO NOT STRESS!  I know this is a lot to ask of an eight-year-old, but they can do it!!  Have confidence and teach on!

Check out my Math Constructed Response Unit for a sample of every math standard in third grade!  This is tried and true and really helped my kiddos!

Check out my Measurement packet for more review!

Mrs. Patton

Welcome! I am Kim Patton and have been a second grade teacher since 2010. I’m a Christ-follower, wife, mother, teacher, blogger, and TpTer. I love traveling, spending time with my family, creating classroom materials, pizza, Peloton, and playing in the camper! I am glad you're here!

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    I am Kim Patton and have been a second-grade teacher since 2010. I’m a Christ-follower, wife, mother, teacher, blogger, and TpTer. I love traveling, spending time with my family, creating curriculum, pizza, Peloton, and playing in the camper! I am glad you're here! Read More

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