While Stephanie Tolan received her Newberry Award for Surviving the Applewhites, I’m convinced that it was Plague Year that really caught the critics’ attention. Surviving the Applewhites is fun, but Plague Year is wonderfully written with exceptional dialogue, a tense plot line, memorable characters and a climactic ending that is nothing short of brilliant. Every year it becomes my eighth grade students favorite book and never disappoints. My biggest regret is that this amazing novel is now so very hard to find - and expensive to purchase. I’m not sure if it is out of print and the copyright null and void, but if it is, by all means purchase a copy and then make photocopy chapters for your students to read. It won’t matter whether you complete this book with eighth graders or high school seniors, it will quickly become one of the best novels you provide for your students. It is also a perfect vehicle for students to demonstrate their understanding of literary terminology and plot analysis.
My purpose in creating this testing series was twofold: to offer up a series of tests that my fellow teachers could use for differentiation purposes (Most teachers have students who are ready for more mature subject matter than others.) or one which I could use for my advanced students. I call it a “higher level examination” because the objective of the tests is to make students think harder about what is often a very controversial story - especially its ending. The chapter tests also serve to reinforce all of the literary terminology we have taught our students from the beginning of the year and to provide those same students with a practical application for that knowledge.
This packet you might purchase contains the following:
6 tests for the novel, each with an A and B version
the literary terms that form the beginning of our vocabulary programs
2 literary terms quizzes, each with an A and B version
2 literary terms tests, each with an A and B version
Hopefully, the examples that I provide you with for each of these items indicated above will give you with a clear idea of their quality and use.
The Plague Year Tests
Each of the six tests contain eleven inference questions that require the student to think more deeply behind the motivations and actions of the characters within the book. Some are simply check questions to ascertain whether the students are reading the material. These questions are followed by eleven more that obligate the students to apply the literary terms they must know before they even begin the tests. Often this is terminology that is applied to the examination of poetry, but I thought students would appreciate utilizing their skills even more in such an engaging story as Plague Year rather than to poetry that doesn’t always resound with them.
The final eleven questions are vocabulary-based inquiries where the students must establish the meaning of the word from the context of the sentence and paragraphs around them. I have separated literary terms and vocabulary pages from another because some of you might want students to work with source material and some of you might not. For myself, I don’t allow my students to go into the book to examine the text for literary terms questions, but I do allow them to use the novel for the vocabulary.
A and B Versions
I believe that teachers should do more to prevent cheating on any examination, and so all of my tests and quizzes within this collection - as well as those that are a part of my other novel treatments and short story exams on TeachersPayTeachers - have two versions. I hope you will find this beneficial.
Each of the tests has thirty-three questions but the tests are valued at thirty points apiece. This means that the testing system has its own built in extra credit.
Vocabulary Test and Quizzes
To be able to complete the tests the students need to know their literary terminology - or at least the terminology demands that I provide for them at the beginning of each test. Without this knowledge they will not be successful when it comes to the use of figurative language. You could allow the students to use their notes as they take the test or compel them to have the knowledge in their minds and at their command as I do. Having notes would make the process notably easier and counterproductive.
For my classes I wanted a list of terms that could not only be applied when we were studying prose and poetry, but also when we are examining the writings of others; thus, you will see the terms e.g. (exempli gratia), i.e. (id est), etc. (et cetera), et al (et alia) and [sic] (sic erat scriptum). Too often our students see these words but have no understanding of their meaning because no one takes the time to explain it to them. Even more importantly, teachers don’t point out how the students could be utilizing them in their own writing to better explain themselves to others.
Literary Terms Quizzes and Tests
In my classes, all of the terms on the lists must be memorized before we begin any novel, poetry or short story work. The analogy I provide my students with is that it is much like fixing a car with another mechanic. You can’t begin to figure out the problem unless both of you agree on what the parts of the engine are named. For this reason each of the two groupings has a preparatory quiz to be followed a test.
The tests are much like the quizzes in that the students must be able to match up the definitions with their corresponding word, but the tests ask the students to provide the literary term to a sentence that completes the thought. Note that the quizzes also have hidden directions but the tests do not. As with the Plague Year tests, vocabulary questions are separated from the definitions questions to allow your students to use the literary terms source material or to deny them that usage.
Word or Adobe
In the Teachers Pay Teachers system I must send all of this to you in Adobe format, but please don’t hesitate to write and request the Word version so that you can make whatever changes you would like in my format.