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Quarter Response Writing

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Students will participate in a coin-centered writing activity and learn the difference between summarization and critical response.

Coin Type(s)

  • Quarter

Coin Program(s)

  • America The Beautiful Quarters
  • DC and Territory Quarters
  • 50 State Quarters


Student will use quarters to explore and explain how they personally feel about specific issues. They will respond rather than summarize the experience.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Language Arts


  • Third grade
  • Fourth grade
  • Fifth grade
  • Sixth grade
  • Seventh grade
  • Eighth grade

Class Time

Sessions: One
Session Length: 30-45 minutes
Total Length: 0-45 minutes


  • Whole group
  • Pairs
  • Individual work

Terms and Concepts

  • Coins
  • Critical response
  • Plot summary
  • Quarter
  • Summarization
  • Writing


  • One roll of new United States quarters or a collection of assorted quarters
  • A chalkboard/dry erase marker board and cchalk/dry erase marker
  • Pencils or pens and paper
  1. Explain to the students that they will be talking about "Response Writing." This is a kind of writing that they will often be asked to do after reading a written work. Explain that, rather than reading a written work first, the class will first look at how to engage in responding. Make the students aware that this is a money-based exercise. While the students are going to be handling coins, all coins are to be returned at the end of the project.
  2. The teacher should take out an unopened roll of assorted quarters and break it open or a container of quarters and explain to the students that they will each be given one quarter to examine. The students will choose partners, and will also examine their partner's quarter. Explain that they should write a short five-sentence paragraph which explains "what just happened" as soon as they get their quarters--meaning that they should explain the process of watching the teacher come around the room, of taking the quarter, examining their quarter, selecting a partner, looking at the partner's quarter, and writing about what just happened.
  3. Distribute the quarters and allow the students 3 to 5 minutes to write their paragraphs.
  4. Ask the students to read their paragraphs aloud to each other and compare paragraphs, noting that they will likely be very similar.

  5. Write the words "Plot Summary" and "Summarization" on the board. When the students have finished sharing (after about two minutes), explain that what they have just done is called summarizing. They retold the story as it happened. Students often write this type of response. While it is good to good to know what happened in a story, this doesn’t explain how the reader felt when they explored the piece of literature or other work. Also, as the students probably observed in their quarter paragraphs, summary writing often results in a lack of originality and can make one student's paper seem just like another. Explain that there is a different way to write a response to a reading selection.

  6. Write the words "Critical Response" on the board and explain to the students that it's more important that they express how they feel about a subject, rather than to simply explain what the subject is. They can do this by considering questions like "How does this make me feel?” and “Why does it make me feel this way?" Explain that this causes them to connect emotionally and intellectually with the piece. This kind of demonstrative writing is called "critical response."

  7. Ask the students to try and write a short paragraph that demonstrates how they feel about the quarter they have, and why they feel that way.

  8. After allowing time for writing, have the students share their paragraphs with their partners by reading them aloud to each other. The students should discuss how the second set of paragraphs are different from the first paragraphs that they wrote. The students should also identify any specific "feeling" words that are in the second "response" paragraph.

  9. Finally, have the whole class share experiences and impressions of the activity to ensure that all the students understand the difference between the two writing methods.

There are no modification options for this lesson plan.

Collect the paragraphs and evaluate them to ensure that the students have demonstrated the two writing styles.

There are no related resources for this lesson plan.

This lesson plan is not associated with any Common Core Standards.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: All Language Arts Standards
Cluster: Literature
Grade(s): Grades K–12

  • Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.