In order to incorporate more non-fiction into a concept-based unit about identity, I created this formative assessment writing task for two articles about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the March on Washington that were published in the September 2, 2013 issue of Junior Scholastic and Upfront Magazine. This formative assessment provides students with two writing prompt options. You could have students choose one or write a response for both writing prompts. The writing prompt for option # 1 asks students to consider one of the enduring understandings for the identity unit and select evidence from the text that proves that enduring understanding. The writing prompt for option # 2 asks students to consider one of the essential questions about turning points in an individual’s life and select evidence from the text that proves that the March on Washington was a significant turning point for one or more characters in the text. For both option #1 and # 2, students must support their ideas by referencing meaningful evidence from the text and explaining their thinking with at least 2-3 sentences of quality commentary. This writing task was one of the first formative assessments during Unit 1 early in the school year, and it provided a significant challenge for students since both writing prompts required students to think critically about a non-fiction text in terms of enduring understandings and essential questions for the unit. Students were not accustomed to thinking about texts in this way, but the writing task was a great success since it supported the high expectations for reading, writing, and thinking that I established in my classroom at the start of the new school year.
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