Reflection: Student Communication Using Text-Dependent Questions to Prepare for a Discussion for Chapters 19-24 - Section 2: Analyzing Character Interactions and Traits


Grading students' writing is subjective, infinity, nit-picky, and excruciating for teachers and students alike.  Grading students' responses to literary analysis is like grading writing while being in the middle of an intense tennis match.

Grading students responses to literature is simple if you're asking, in QAR language, right there or think and search questions.  For those types of questions, yes, there is one right answer and it's found on a particular page or a couple of pages. However, if you're asking students to consider more in depth questions, not on my own questions, but author and me, and more complicated think and search questions? There isn't one right answer. There isn't two right answers.  There's multiple right answers with multiple interpretations.

That's what's driving some of my students crazy.  I've heard "This is why math is better!" more times than I can count over the last few weeks.  And I get that.  Students are frustrated by there not being one right answer--there's multiple right answers, and then when you include the layers of meaning that authors include? When you include how one event impacts a character? Brains explode.

Grading all those responses can be a nightmare, too.  There are times when I think that grading math assignments would be easier.  Then I remind myself that that grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, and the grass on my side is lush and green, and filled with life systems that one can analyze, and you can examine how all those life systems and organisms affect each other, and have you heard the story about the ant who builds a bridge across that cavern?

Having a rubric, however, can minimize teacher and student frustrations.  Students don't always know how teachers grade.  If teachers don't tell students that if they only answer one part of the question, don't cite an answer, and the citations aren't logical, than that's just a C, how will students know?  Having a rubric also helps with parents who don't understand why their child only got a B in English.  If the child in question is only answering part of the question, providing some citations, and only considering the basic, literal level, then that's not an A.

Here's the rubric that I use to grade responses to analytical literary questions. It's got two different criteria--citations and analytical thought.  There's four levels of thought, which I think of as A, B, C, and D. Of course, one response might fall in the 3/B level, and another response will be 4/A, so I can grade accordingly.

  Student Communication: Using Rubrics to Grade Literary Analysis Questions
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Using Text-Dependent Questions to Prepare for a Discussion for Chapters 19-24

Unit 12: Novel Study: The Hunger Games
Lesson 17 of 21

Objective: Students will be able to analyze characters and events by drawing conclusions about events and characters impact each other.

Big Idea: In which students develop the skills of drawing conclusions and searching through a text to find support for their answer.

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