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Study guides for The Scarlet Letter, detailed reading, including answers and discussion on some of the finer points. Can be used for a number of activities. Useful for cooperative learning groups.
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Hand out only a portion of the study guide at a time. For example, if you're going to quiz the first four chapters on Monday, hand out the first page or two of the study guide on Wednesday of the week prior. Perhaps that material covers only the first two chapters. That is OK. It will give kids a good, solid basis for comprehending the novel, but it will also force them to read actively on their own for the remaining chapters. Encourage kids to help one another outside of class. Make it clear that they must have the study guides complete by class time on the quiz day.
On the day of the quiz, have students complete and hand in the quiz first, closed book. Then have them copy some (or all) of the answers to previously assigned study guide items onto a prepared answer sheet. Make it clear that they may use their books to complete questions they have not yet answered, but also tell them that this is nevertheless, a continuation of the quiz process. They are not to help one another during this time.
Hand out the next one or two study guide pages covering the chapters of the reading assignment that has just been quizzed. In addition to the answers for the "old questions," require them to complete a number of the new questions from the new study guide pages, making certain the total number of questions can be finished during the class period. Students who have actually prepared their assigned study guide questions outside of class should be able to re-read and research the new material easily.
This method requires all kids to deal with the text of the reading. They cannot simply refer to Spark Notes and Cliff's Notes at home for summaries. They will see the value of preparing study guide questions ahead of time.
I always have them copy study guide answers to a separate answer sheet. It makes my correcting process much simpler. During this class session, I hand out study guide questions for a portion of the next reading assignment as well, once again reminding them to get together outside of class and help one another to finish those items in preparation for the next quiz and study guide session.
Correct the quizzes. That will go fast. Correct the study guides also. It is easier than you might think. If you have assigned thirty study guide items, select ten or twelve to correct. Count any blanks anywhere as errors.
You need to warn students that the grade scale will be tough, and that blanks will be counted as errors. I also tell kids that if they write flippant, careless answers, those will be counted as blank as well. For example, a student might guess that, toward the end of the novel, Dimmesdale and Hester are planning to leave Boston on a Harley. Even if I have not selected that item to correct, I will mark it wrong. If they have guessed incorrectly on other study guide items, but have made reasonable guesses as to what might actually happen within the realm of the story, I will not count those wrong. There are good reasons for correcting the work in this manner. Anticipation, extrapolation, and speculation on the part of a reader are legitimate processes in active reading.
I tell kids that, since I'm only correcting ten or twelve items, I reserve the right to impose this scale:
none wrong: A
one wrong: A
two wrong: B
three wrong: C
four wrong: D
five or more wrong: F
Again, all blanks and ridiculous answers are counted as errors. I weighted the quiz grades more heavily than those for study guides, but I never gave the study guides such little weight that kids could pass the course without doing them.
This plan allows kids to work together on study guides. It promotes reading both inside and outside of class. It eliminates the teacher's concerns about cheating, since study guide collaboration is encouraged instead of discouraged. The correcting load, particularly on study guides, is greatly reduced, and the importance of the study guides is enhanced in the minds of the students. Students absolutely must read.
Special needs instructors also like this plan. When kids with learning problems leave my class to work with their specialists, I make it clear that the study guides and the quizzes must be done in their presence, that the session is "like a test," and that, as long as the student performs the work with the specialist, and all the work comes back to me from the specialist, the student will receive full credit. Those students can use extra time, as needed, to finish the work. With my permission, special needs students are allowed to finish all the study guide work first and to do the quiz afterward, under the supervision of the specialist, of course.
For reading disability students using abridged versions of novels, cross off questions that students cannot answer.
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