Where’s Waldo, and other types of Qs

Today I wanted to take a clear formative assessment approach to a skill I want my students to improve. Also, I want to improve my own use of formative assessment in the classroom. The topic was answering comprehension questions. We are tackling this through The Outsiders novel. While I rarely give chapter questions for novels, I am doing it this time because this is the skill these students need to develop and this is a text in which they are very engaged.

Making the learning outcomes very clear

On the board I wrote, Answering different kinds of questions, and Getting it right – how can I meet or exceed expectations?

a. We started with a Where’s Waldo image . We talked about the types of questions I had written for them to use to comprehend the image.

Right There or Where’s Waldo? – There is only one place to find him. Right There questions can be found in a particular spot in a piece of text. There is only one right answer.

Think and SearchWhat kinds of activities could Waldo do here? You have to search the text, but you will find the answers. There is only one way to answer this question and you will find it in the text. No explanation is needed.

The Author and YouWhat’s the weather like at the carnival? Here you have to scan the image for evidence. The author did not say, “It was a clear, warm day.” You have to look at the evidence and explain your thinking. The flags are straight out, so it is probably windy. People are dressed for a warm sunny day – I see people in shorts, skirts, short sleeves. The carnival usually is open in the summer when the weather is good.  You may get a question that asks your view or opinion like, Someone is driving off course -what might that tell you about that person’s personality? One of the kids has driven the bumper cart out of the track and is chasing people. He has a crazy look on his face. I think this person thinks this is fun. He is wild and doesn’t really care about the comfort of other people. Or, perhaps he doesn’t think about the consequences of his actions.

Only YouDo you like going to carnivals? Explain.  This kind of question is about making your opinion clear, providing connections to your own experiences and knowledge and only you can explain. It is not an answer you will find in the text, but the text can get you thinking about it.

Make the goals transparent

We will be going through each type of question, examing exemplars, and constructing a rubric. We looked at one question the students had answered the day before from Chapter 1 of The Outsiders. It was a Right There question, but there was a wide range in terms of how much detail the students had given. We started to discuss how to get full marks on the Right There/Think and Search questions, and students assessed the four samples I provided from student work. We worked on the first two types of questions today and this is the very basic rubric the students constructed so they will be clear on the criteria:

Answering Questions Rubric

Types of Questions

Minimally Meeting (Okay)

Fully Meeting (Well Done!)

Exceeding (WOW)

Right There/Think and Search

Some detail is there

Most detail is there

Every detail, nothing is left out

Of course, this type of question is the easiest to figure out, and it is really the other two types that will take a lot of thinking about and working with. Then, as we work through the novel, I will use this rubric to assess their work, and so will they. Hopefully, this careful work will help them throughout high school.

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