Reflection: Student Communication Delusions and Disillusions at Gatsby's Epic Bash - Section 1: Introduction


We've all gotten those emails before from parents or students after a quiz.  You know the ones.  The ones that sound roughly like this:

Parent Email: "I was just looking at the gradebook, and I see that my daughter got a 30% on the latest quiz.  Her scores have been low on several of the quizzes.  What can she do to improve these grades?  I know she's reading the chapters."

Student Email: "You gave me a 30% on the quiz.  Why?  I read the whole chapter."


There are many ways to respond to these emails, but by far the BEST way that I have found to respond to them is with cold hard facts.  Routine quizzes give you the opportunity to collect hoards of data, and teachers aren't the only people who like this information!  Inquisitive students and/or parents LOVE this information.  (Truth be told, I'm not sure most parents or students expect a list of skill-based improvements that they can make to improve their reading.  Most look for extra credit opportunities, but when you give them data to actually get BETTER, it takes them off-guard and parents can work as an ally to help their children take ownership to improve their learning!)  Some of my favorite ways to analyze the data that these quizzes give me are listed below.  Keep in mind that I don't do this for every, single student I have (though I would if they contacted me!).  These are just the ways I respond to the couple dozen students and/or parents a year that get bent out of shape enough about their quiz grades to contact me.


To evaluate a student's quiz grades to determine WHY they are so low, I first go back through all of their quizzes to see what questions they got right or wrong, and if they got them wrong, I see what kinds of answers they put down.  Then, I analyze my findings.


  • Do they miss questions that are mostly at the end of any given reading assignment?  If so, it looks like maybe they didn't quite get that reading assignment done.  If they did read it all, it might mean that they had to rush through the end of it due to time constraints or that they did not give it the same level of intensity of thought as the earlier assignment.  Did they read it at night?  Were they tired?  Did it get read in another class prior to mine?  


  • Do they primarily miss the questions that come from the reading homework or the parts that we read in class?  Missing questions that came from reading passages that were assigned as homework is another good indicator that they haven't read the text (or read the text carefully--see above).  If they are missing questions that we discussed while reading a chunk of the story aloud in class, I would ask if they were fully engaged in that class.  My students all have Chromebooks in the classroom, so a common problem that leads to these kinds of test results are students that are trying to do other homework, sneakily trying to wander the internet or play games, or are using their Chromebooks to do something else in class.  I'd suggest they switch to using a paper novel for a while during class and see if these scores improve.  Another possible issue for this result is a lack of engagement.  Maybe they are a learner that does better being a PART of the story.  Try these students as a member of the "acting" team next time!  They might improve this way!


  • Do they miss questions that utilize a handful of skills?  Most of my students who truly do read the assignment and still get poor quiz grades do so because they may not fully implement the critical part of the reading assignment.  Some students simply read the text, as written, without additional thought.  Emphasizing that all students should be thinking while reading, asking questions, making connections and inferences, etc., is critical to communicate to students (and parents of students) who struggle with skills that require more than a surface level reading.  Students that are guilty of superficially reading text often get all the plot, main idea/detail, and character questions right (as do Sparknotes readers), but they don't do so well on questions that require them to make inferences, support character traits with evidence from the text, or make judgments about the characters' actions.  I always council these students (or their parents) to carefully complete the Visual Character Maps while reading (which will reinforce the need to consider characters deeply!), consider every character to be their friend (that way they will think about their motivations more purposefully and genuinely), and ask "why?" at least once a page.  This will immediately improve their scores.  You should notice that the predominant question types on my quizzes are those that require deeper reading and understanding of the text, and that's a purposeful choice!  The Common Core requires more thought than simple low-level, Sparknotes-esque questions that were pretty common to older-style education.  Our assessments need to reflect that, and both students and parents need to be aware of the increasing demands on the reader to read genuinely and inquisitively.  Reading in the same ol' way that they did prior to Common Core will NOT cut it.  Personally, I'm thrilled with this concept, and when I explain it to parents with a positive, informed, personalized-with-their-child's-results demeanor, they are unable to do anything but help their child step up to the plate!

  Improving Parent Communication with Quiz Data
  Student Communication: Improving Parent Communication with Quiz Data
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Delusions and Disillusions at Gatsby's Epic Bash

Unit 9: Is Gatsby Really so "Great"?
Lesson 5 of 12

Objective: SWBAT track Gatsby's evolution with relevant textual evidence, inferences, and characterization to evaluate his relationship with Daisy, and use blocking techniques while acting out the hotel scene to improve comprehension.

Big Idea: You know when you're watching something that you know will be awful and you just can't look away? Yeah, it's like that. Acted out. Bam!

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