Students will be able to use textual evidence from Part I of TKAM to write 5-7 sentence paragraphs describing and analyzing questions about the novel.
Friday marked the last day of the first three weeks of school. Since my district runs on six-week grading periods (instead of quarters), this means progress reports come out next week. We were required to have six grades in the gradebook for students. Grades are composed of 50% daily grades and 50% tests. I hadn’t given them a test yet, so Friday I gave them a summative assessment that would analyze both their understanding of the first half of To Kill a Mockingbird and their ability to successfully write a paragraph answering a question. I was pretty proud of my format: I gave them eight questions requiring a short responses. I asked that they try to answer three of them, write 5-7 complete sentences, and use evidence from the book, including page numbers in parentheses so I could see exactly where they got it from. If they managed to write three, they could write a fourth for extra credit, either in class or over the weekend. I even put page numbers with each question so they didn’t have to flip through the entire book to find their evidence. I felt this would be pretty doable for most.
For the most part it was. I had a handful of my strugglers who only got one done, but most wrote at least two – so that means this afternoon I have roughly 260 paragraphs to read and grade 🙂 In one class a kid complained how much he hated writing and how hard it was; the girl who sat next to him turned and said, “You know, it’s not that bad. We can write a few paragraphs. They’re all questions we covered in class.” I could’ve hugged her. But that would’ve been weird.
The hardest part of the day came in one period where I had a “whistler”: a kid who at about six minute intervals gave a short whistle, kind of like a bird call. Every so often a different kid would whistle back. At first I tried to ignore it – after all, every time I whipped around from helping some kid to glare, it was impossible to determine who it was. Finally one girl sighed heavily and told them to knock it off. I asked who it was, and they all pointed at the culprit. I informed him if I heard another whistle, I would take his paper and give him a 0. Given that this “test” will be 50% of their grade, that would bring his 92 down to a 46. That did it, no more whistling; I just wish I had figured that out sooner. Of course the kid in question only managed to turn in one complete paragraph; I’m not sure what to do with it. I told them I’d grade whatever they got done using the same criteria, so I can’t really punish him if I don’t punish everyone else who struggled to complete two paragraphs in 53 minutes. Even though I want to; I’m sure if he wasn’t whistling and trying not to get caught he would’ve written more. One of my questions on the test asked about Scout’s new predilection (vocab word!) for swearing. Like Scout, I’ve recently picked up cussing. Not at school of course, but under my breath or running through my brain at regular intervals. As I’ve assured you (and myself) numerous times, I love my students – but &#$%@ they drive me bonkers sometimes.
Got my iced tea poured, my rubrics printed, and my red pen ready. Let’s grade!