Section 5: Sample Constructed-Response Question English Language Arts and Reading 4–8 (217)
This question requires you to demonstrate your knowledge of the subject area by providing an in-depth written response. Read the question carefully before you begin to write your response to ensure that you address all components. Think about how you will organize what you plan to write.
The final version of your response should conform to the conventions of standard English. Your written response should be your original work, written in your own words, and not copied or paraphrased from some other work. You may, however, use citations when appropriate.
Exhibits for the constructed-response question will be presented in a tabbed format on the computer-administered test. You will have the ability to move between exhibits by clicking on the tab labels at the top of the screen.
An on-screen answer box will be provided on the computer-administered test. The answer box includes a white response area for typing your response, as well as tools along the top of the box for editing your response. A word counter that counts the number of words entered for the response is also provided in the lower left corner of the box. Note that the size, shape, and placement of the answer box will depend on the content of the assignment.
Analyze the information provided in the exhibits and, citing specific evidence from the exhibits, write a response of approximately 400–600 words in which you address each of the following:
- describe one strategy that you would use to help the student connect prior knowledge and real-world experiences to the new content and contexts in the excerpt provided;
- describe one area of academic need that the student demonstrates related to an English language arts and/or reading skill or learning objective;
- describe one developmentally appropriate instructional strategy that you would use to address the student's identified need and explain why you would use that strategy;
- describe one developmentally appropriate method of assessment that you would use to monitor the student's progress toward the identified skill or learning objective; and
- explain how you would use data from this assessment method to measure the student's progress and plan for future instruction.
Exhibit 1: Learning Objective and Excerpt
A sixth-grade English language arts teacher wants to help students develop skills for analyzing author's purpose and craft described in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for English Language Arts and Reading below.
(9) Author's purpose and craft: listening, speaking, reading, writing, and thinking using multiple texts. The student uses critical inquiry to analyze the authors' choices and how they influence and communicate meaning within a variety of texts. The student analyzes and applies author's craft purposefully in order to develop his or her own products and performances. The student is expected to:
(E) identify the use of literary devices, including omniscient and limited point of view, to achieve a specific purpose.
The teacher sets the daily learning objective below.
Students will be able to describe how an author's use of literary devices and figurative language achieves specific purposes within a text.
In preparation for reading the poem "Who Will Teach Me?" by Nancy Wood, students read a nonfiction selection that provides context for the poem. The students then read the poem. The nonfiction selection and the poem appear below.
The Utes are the only American Indian tribe that is native to Colorado. They were hunters rather than farmers, and they roamed freely in a large area that included all of Colorado and extended from southern Wyoming into eastern Utah and northern New Mexico. They built cone-shaped homes of grass or brush.
At first, there were seven bands of Utes, each with a leader, and all were powerful warriors. The mountains in which they lived were a natural barrier that served to protect them from their enemies. Other tribes found them nearly unconquerable.
Then in the first half of the nineteenth century, the Utes lost most of their homeland in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. This was the result of the Mexican occupation and of the building of American forts in the area. Once gold was discovered in Colorado in 1858, treaty after treaty with the United States took more of their land, pushing them even farther back into the mountains.
Now the Utes are scattered and most of the people have lost touch with their roots. Today they work in agriculture, forestry, and tourism. A few strong individuals continue to follow the old ways. With their help, Nancy Wood has been able to record in her poems and other writings the beliefs and culture of the Utes.
Who Will Teach Me?
Who will teach me now that my fathers
Exhibit 2: Student Assignment, Success Criteria, and Student Written Response
After the students read the text selection and the poem, they respond to questions in their writing journals. The questions, success criteria, and one student's responses appear below.
In my responses, I will:
Identify at least one example of a literary device in the poem.
Explain how the literary device communicates meaning.
Read over my responses to make sure that I have answered every question using complete sentences.
1. How did reading the nonfiction selection before reading the poem help you understand the poem?
There is no way I could have understood the poem if I hadn't read the information about the Utes first. The poem doesn't say anything about Ute Indians. I wouldn't have understood what the poem was really about. Now I understand that the fathers are the speaker's ancestors. The journey isn't an actual trip. It's the speaker's life. She wants to know who will teach her about her people's way of life now that her ancestors are gone. She will have to go on the journey of life alone, without their help.
2. How did the author's use of literary devices help communicate meaning in the poem?
One example is the thing about years being clouds. The clouds are like blankets that cover the ancestors while they sleep. But the word "like" isn't used, so this comparison isn't a simile. It is a metaphor. Also, the ancestors aren't really sleeping. They died many years ago. That's the only literary device I could find.
Exhibit 3: Student-Teacher Conversation
After responding to the questions, the student has a one-on-one conversation with the teacher. A transcript of their conversation appears below.
Teacher: Let's see if we can expand your answer to the second question. When you look at the title and each line of the poem, do you see any similarities?
Student: Some are questions.
Teacher: How do the questions begin?
Student: They begin with "Who will."
Teacher: Yes, and what would you call that?
Student: Repetition. Oh, that's another literary device!
Teacher: Do you think the author had a reason for using repetition?
Student: The speaker is asking who will teach her about the past and who will help her in the future.
Teacher: Do you think repetition makes that message stronger?
Student: Yes, because if the author used "Who will" only once, it would just be a regular question. But she asks it three times, so obviously the answer is really important.
Teacher: And what is the answer?
Student: She will teach herself. She will figure out how to live her life.
Sample Responses and Rationales
Score Point 4
The student correctly identifies figurative language (standard 9D of the TEKS for Grade 6). The student recognizes that the comparison of years to clouds is a metaphor, correctly distinguishes metaphor from simile, and discerns that "the ancestors aren't really sleeping"—that sleep is used as a metaphor for death. However, the student struggles to identify other types of literary devices (standard 9E). While aware of the literary device called "repetition," the student is not able to independently identify repetition in the poem. This remains an area of academic need.
To address that need, I would implement strategies designed to increase the student's attention to the formal properties of the text. I would ask the student to return to the poem and highlight anything notable or effective, such as vivid diction; striking imagery; repeated words, phrases, or sounds (e.g., assonance, consonance, alliteration); and distinctive uses of capitalization or punctuation. The purpose of this activity would be for the student to recognize that poetic devices and techniques are deliberate strategies used by the poet to produce multiple effects.
I would then provide one-on-one instruction to help the student think about how the highlighted elements contribute to meaning in the poem. If, for example, the student highlighted the question marks and periods, I would focus on the poet's use of three interrogative sentences followed by three declarative sentences. I would ask the student to consider the effect of reversing the order of declarative and interrogative sentences or alternating between questions and answers. Thinking about the possible effects of rearranging the lines would prompt the student to consider the relationship between form and meaning and, more specifically, how the poem's structure contributes to its mood.
Although the student has made strong text-to-world connections between the poem and the nonfiction selection, the conclusion that the poem is "really about" the Ute experience suggests that the student is unnecessarily limiting the poem's meaning. To encourage the student to think about additional, more universal meanings, I would stimulate text-to-self connections in a brainstorming session with the whole class. Noting the description of the Utes as a people who "lost touch with their roots," I would ask the class to think about other ways in which people can lose touch with their roots, such as moving to a new country, changing schools, or losing a family member. I would then ask the students to reflect in writing on an event or circumstance in their own lives that caused them to lose touch with something they had known or relied upon. To help them focus their thoughts, I would give them a sentence starter, such as "This poem reminds me of how…."
To assess students' ability to identify literary devices, I would assign them a different short poem later in the class. After a brief discussion of the poem's global meanings, I would have students do the highlighting activity described earlier. At the conclusion of the class, as an exit ticket, I would have students identify one literary device in the poem. These exit tickets would indicate whether the students were able to identify literary devices. If they were unable to do so, I would plan additional lessons to address this skill. If they were able to do so, we could proceed to discuss, during the next class, the ways in which these literary devices contribute to the poem's meaning.
Rationale for the Score of 4
The "4" response reflects a thorough understanding of the relevant content knowledge and skills. The response fully addresses all parts of the assignment, demonstrates an accurate, highly effective application of the relevant content knowledge and skills, and provides strong, relevant evidence, specific examples, and well-reasoned explanations.
Completion: The response addresses all parts of the assignment, and the response to each part is developed with evidence, examples, and explanations. An academic need is described in paragraph 1; a detailed instructional strategy, and the rationale for that strategy, is described in paragraphs 2 and 3; a strategy for making text connections is described in paragraph 4; and a method of assessment is described, and the use of the data explained, in paragraph 5.
Application of Content: The response accurately and effectively applies concepts and terminology relevant to English language arts content (metaphor and simile, assonance and consonance, declarative and interrogative) and best practices (one-on-one instruction, brainstorming, sentence starters, exit tickets). The response demonstrates an ability to analyze a literary text, frame questions that promote higher-order thinking, and design effective lessons aligned to the relevant TEKS standards.
Support: The response provides strong, relevant evidence, specific examples, and well-reasoned explanations. In paragraph 1, the assessment of the student's skill level is grounded in evidence from the exhibits, including a quotation. In paragraphs 2 and 3, the instructional strategy is described with specific details, including precise instructions and a hypothetical exchange between teacher and student.
Score Point 2
One area of academic need the student demonstrates is finding all the literary devices in the poem. The student found one metaphor. The teacher has to help this student find repetition. Also, the student did not identify point of view, which is part of the TEKS standard.
One developmentally appropriate instructional strategy I would use to address this need is to display a list of literary devices and have the student reread the poem and look for an example of each literary device on the list. Having a list to refer to would make it easier for the student to think of literary devices that could possibly appear in a poem.
Also, I would focus on omniscient and limited point of view. Omniscient means the narrator can see into the mind of every character and report what they are thinking, whereas with limited third person point of view the narrator can only see into the mind of one or some of the characters. I would have students read some exemplar stories, write their own short stories using omniscient point of view, and then write the same story again, only this time using limited point of view.
One strategy I would use to help the student connect prior understanding to new content is making text-to-text connections between the poem and the nonfiction selection. I would provide a Venn diagram in which the student would enter information from the nonfiction selection and the poem and see where the two overlap. The nonfiction selection says that "most of the people have lost touch with their roots," and the speaker in the poem has also lost touch with her roots, as indicated by her question "Who will tell of times I wish I knew?" Text-to-text connections can also be made between the speaker's statement that "now that my fathers have gone with the buffalo" in the poem and the nonfiction selection's description of the Utes who "roamed freely" but now "work in agriculture."
One developmentally appropriate method for monitoring the student's progress would be to ask the student to define the terms irony, metaphor, simile, onomatopoeia, personification, and hyperbole and then to write a poem that incorporates at least three of these literary devices. I would then use the data from this assessment to measure the student's progress and plan for future instruction. For example, if most of the students got hyperbole wrong, I could have the students read a tall tale and identify examples of exaggeration. If they needed more instruction on metaphors, we would read Eve Merriam's poem "Metaphor," which is an effective instructional tool.
Rationale for the Score of 2
The "2" response reflects a limited understanding of the relevant content knowledge and skills. The response addresses some parts of the assignment and demonstrates a partially accurate application of the relevant content knowledge and skills. The response provides limited evidence, and examples or explanations are only partially appropriate.
Completion: The response addresses most parts of the assignment, but it does so only partially. It partially describes one area of academic need (the failure to "find all the literary devices in the poem"), and then merely names a second need that is inappropriate to the context (the failure to "identify point of view"). The description of an instructional strategy largely pertains to this second need. The description of the method of assessment and use of the data is partial, with limited evidence and explanations.
Application of Content: The response demonstrates a partially accurate, partially effective application of the relevant content knowledge and skills. For example, while the instructional strategy for teaching omniscient and limited points of view may be appropriate for a unit on narrative fiction, it is inappropriate for a lesson on a lyric poem. Additionally, the nonfiction selection is not a literary text; it is presented only to provide context for the poem. While the nonfiction selection may help students make text-to-world connections, making text-to-text connections between it and the poem is inappropriate given the lesson's focus. Finally, while a summative assessment on literary devices may be appropriate at the end of the unit, it will not provide the data the teacher will need to measure progress and guide instruction throughout the unit.
Support: The response provides limited evidence, and examples or explanations, when provided, may be only partially appropriate. Little description is given of the method of assessment other than when it would be administered and the topics it would cover.
The rubric created to evaluate your response to the constructed-response question is based on the following criteria:
|Completion||The degree to which the candidate completes the assignment by responding to each specific task in the assignment.|
|Application of Content||The degree to which the candidate applies the relevant knowledge and skills to the response accurately and effectively.|
|Support||The degree to which the candidate supports the response with appropriate evidence, examples, and explanations based on the relevant content knowledge and skills.|
The four points of the scoring scale correspond to varying degrees of performance.
|Score Point||Score Point Description|
|4||The "4" response reflects a thorough understanding of the relevant content knowledge and skills.
|3||The "3" response reflects a general understanding of the relevant content knowledge and skills.
The "2" response reflects a limited understanding of the relevant content knowledge and skills.
The "1" response reflects little or no understanding of the relevant content knowledge and skills.
|U||The response is unscorable because it is unreadable, not written to the assigned topic, written in a language other than English, or does not contain a sufficient amount of original work to score.|
|B||There is no response to the assignment.|
Note: Your written response should be your original work, written in your own words and not copied or paraphrased from some other work.
"Who Will Teach Me" Original Poem © 1974 Nancy C. Wood, from Many Winters, Reprinted by permission of the Nancy Wood Literary Trust.
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