Yesterday, we read the myth “Atalanta's Last Race” during class. The students relished the opportunity to take on roles and act out the play in a bit of readers’ theatre. Today class begins with silent reading time during which they reread the play knowing that a quiz will follow. I tell them to pay attention to the plot (the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of the story) and the characters (who is involved in the action).
Once students finish reading, we set aside books and materials. The students answer 10 questions related to the plot of the myth. Do we need to restate the question? Can we just answer with bullet points? Well, the answer is somewhere in the middle. Because I want to correct the quizzes during class I give them a break so they will finish quicker than if restating. However, their answers must be written clearly. For example, if a question (such as #6) asks for information about Aphrodite and Atalanta’s relationship and the response includes the pronoun ‘she’ but leaves a question as to which woman is referred to, then that’s a problem. We correct the quiz during class. I prefer to have each student correct their own quiz (after carefully monitoring that desks are clear except for the quiz and a correcting pen; be sure to double check that all pencils are put away) and often find myself saying, "Is it more important that you know your neighbor's strengths and weaknesses or your own?" An answer key appears here and some further thoughts on the purpose for the quiz is here:
According to our reading plan, today is Day 6 and that means coming to class having read the third myth, answers to a set of comprehension questions, and a Common Characteristics of Myths worksheet filled in.
Students meet in their groups to discuss and share their work. They look forward to this time to work together and I notice many make changes to their work based on input from others. Everyone benefits from this interaction: struggling readers get support from stronger readers, who benefit from explaining their thinking to peers. We talk a lot about leading someone to discovery rather than simply supplying them with the answers. It is gratifying to see this in action.