How do you hold students accountable for reading assignments? My university supervisor recommended a book by Carol Jago, who taught within the Santa Monica CA school systems. She had them reading Crime and Punishment and I am struggling to get my students to ready fables and satires such as Brave New World and Animal Farm. She mentions a few strategies that I have tried; pop quizzes and reading aloud in class with class discussions. One method she doesn’t like to use in the use of objective testing to assess knowledge class literature. I just gave a second quiz and tried to make it more open-ended and accepted a number of responses that were based on the student’s interpretations. But, here is one response that stopped my cold:
Question: What went missing at the end of Chapter 2?
Student response: The Plot?
After laughing for about 5 minutes, I reflected a bit more on objective testing. My school uses these tests frequently as they are easy to administer and grade. But, they really do not test for interpretive and comparative rigor that we strive to administer. We are simply asking the students to parrot back the book, often just to ensure they are held accountable for the reading.
For the final assessments, I plan to use a group quiz strategy and have the students reflect on Huxley/Orwellian themes that are brought out within the respective book. We have started to explore themes such as the exploitation of technology as a controlling factor(Huxley), does absolute power corrupt(Orwell), and the use of propaganda in dystopias(both authors). My next challenge is to craft a quiz that groups will complete together in class. I will pilot this exercise in my X week class and hopefully have the time to manage it within my A week. My A week students only have 9 more academic class periods and I have promised them one day to work on their final projects, a comparison study of two dystopian works; one of which should be the class book. This will count as a test grade. I still have a lot more work to finish before my seniors leave their primary education for good.