To prepare for the assessment on the impact of setting on the plot of Maroo of the Winter Caves, we review the steps to answering this type of question. I display the attached worksheet on the projector and leave it up for the duration of the period. Paper copies and electronic copies are also available for student reference. They are familiar with the steps from the previous day’s lesson and from past experience. This is not the time to introduce a new process!
In this novel the setting acts as a major source of conflict and threatens the survival of the main character and her family. The passage the students work with today was chosen because it includes evidence of the family’s nomadic lifestyle as they migrate place-to-place following the deer, a major food source. There are also a number of examples of the simplicity of the technology that the family depends, such as stone and bone tools and fur bedding. It is also evident that the small tribe depends on every member pitching in and working together.
As we review the directions, it becomes apparent that many are not sure of the meaning of the word ‘impact’ as it is used in the prompt. I clarify the definition as factors that can be either positive or negative by using the previous evening’s World Series game as an example. A controversial call can be viewed by one team as a benefit and as a big problem by the other team. This is followed by a review of the rubric, graphic organizer, and editing checklist. All of these items are familiar to the students from the previous day's lesson. They also can and will be used with other stories as the school year goes on.
I circulate around the room as they work answering questions and making sure students are moving through the process and not freezing up on one step. This is something that often happens to struggling readers. Sometimes just a quick reminder of the process or prompt in the right direction is all that’s needed to get them back on track. I take note of these interventions in order to track progress over time so that I can help these students developing independence in responding to open response questions.
As the class comes to a close, it is important to separate out the work that is finished from that of students that need additional time. (Here's an example of the workload you can expect for homework!) I suspected, and was right, that about a quarter of the class would not finished in one period, which is why this assessment was scheduled when there is an additional period at the end of the day.
Students are always suppose to have an independent reading book (something of their own choosing) with them and can read if they finish the open response question before the end of the period. It is important that they are engaged in a quiet activity such as this so that those who are still at work can concentrate. Do not allow early finishers to work on homework or other activities that may appear 'fun' or the others will rush to finish and not do their best work on the assessment.