Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Creating Engaging Assessments

All of my classes are currently reading novels.  When it comes to reading novels, it turns out that this year's students actually enjoy hearing the sound of my voice, so I've ditched my literature circles and agreed to conduct whole-group sessions. In order to hold students accountable, I've developed assessments. My students just finished taking most of their mandated assessments for the year (they are taking the district benchmark exam next week) and I have to be careful about how I continue to assess as they have already declared that they "are sick of tests".  Luckily, I've found ways to assess the students without them knowing it.  In fact, they love completing these assessments.  Here are some examples that I've either tried or plan to try by the end of the unit:
  • In chapters 1-6, we learned that Francisco's parents brought him to the United States without papers and then they sent him to California to live with his brother while they stayed in Mexico. When he graduated the eighth grade, they did not attend the ceremony,  Ms. Ninja's conclusion is that Francisco's parents did not love him.  Is Ms. Ninja's conclusion accurate?  Remember to cite evidence from the text.  FYI: This conclusion is totally wrong.  When the students heard me read the question, they couldn't race to their iPads fast enough to explain why I was wrong.  They even suggested that I should do things such as go back and re-read before responding next time.  No one tried to sneak onto Youtube that day :)
  • Imagine that Gary Soto continued the story.  Script out the interaction between the two characters in drama format.  Write at least 15 lines.
  • Review these models of high school graduation speeches.  Imagine that Francisco Jimenez was asked to give a speech at his high school graduation.  Write the speech that he could have given to his classmates.
  • Re-read two of  Gary Soto's short stories.  Which of the main characters do you find it easier to relate to?  Why?
  • Imagine that Hollywood decided to make the novel you just read into a movie.  What would the trailer look like?  Remember, movie trailers usually highlight the main message of the story.  Work with your group to write a trailer script, act out and record your trailer on your iPad.  We will hold a film festival next week.

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