In my lesson Exploring Themes in Literature one of the main objectives is facilitating the understanding that evidence is a necessary component to any statement of fact or theory. The objective’s goal is for students to identify literary themes by referencing and using evidence within the text. An idea is simply an idea without any evidence to prove the claim. The skill to answer the question ‘why’ or ‘how’ is a proficiency students will always be asked to utilize. In order to help develop and test this skill, I have created three formative assessments for this objective.
Assessment 1: Adequate written documentation in homework assignments
Students will be required to document evidence from the text that supports their identified theme. This assessment will show me if a student understands A) The connection between evidence and literary themes, B) If what a student is documenting can constitute as evidence, and C) If the accumulation of evidence builds a cohesive and comprehensible theory.
Assessment 2: Students will be required to defend their theories during class discussion
I am a big fan of class discussion because I believe it is one of the most beneficial tools contributing to higher thinking. Students obtain better understanding of concepts as they talk through it, and they pick up on other keys ideas presented by their peers. For students having difficulty expressing their ideas through writing, this gives them an opportunity to think through concepts orally. Group discussion is an excellent way to prompt ‘Explain What Matters’ (10 Assessments you can perform in 90 seconds). Oral explanation is generally much shorter than written explanation, and it encourages students to get to the point.
Assessment 3: During discussion, groups will be formed in order for students to contribute additional evidence to each other
Teamwork is an essential step to problem solving. Like any hypothesis, you have to overcome obstacles to prove your theory. I want students to use each other to build and affirm their ideas, but to also continually question their own current evidence. If everyone else’s evidence seems to refute what a student believes, that student may conclude his hypothesis was wrong, or he may dig deeper for additional evidence to maintain a theory. The group work design is to act as a testing center where a student can observe the eligibility of his design. Group work is also a place where students can observe other ideas, but not necessarily adopt them. The wonderful thing about literature is the variance of impact a particular text has on each individual. Carousel Brainstorming is a great activity for testing eligibility and accuracy (22 Assessment Techniques). In Carousel Brainstorming, groups pass their collective ideas to the next group and each group critiques each other’s contributions by marking which ideas are suitable and which should be questioned. This type of activity works as a type of intellectual check and balance by putting ideas through a human strainer.
Each of these three assessments gives students an opportunity to research and express their ideas in a different way. The differentiation in assessments allows me to double check student understanding and gives students different opportunities to express their comprehension about the topic.