So, your students need to read a play . . .
You assign a play knowing its content is important to students navigating the AP exam. And it dawns on you that some of them are not reading the play but rather searching for the path of least resistance (skimming, on-line summaries, etc.). To get them to read, how might you up the ante a bit? After all, a novel’s hardly worth discussing when students have not read it. My novel testing units are designed to address that. Each unit forces students to either read or face the penalty of low test scores in your classroom. You choose how to weight the test.
What is it?
The following is a series of ORIGINAL TESTS to use once you have announced to your AP English Literature and Composition class that they will be reading a particular novel or work. Originally composed tests prevent students accessing on-line tests and knowing the items before class time.
Why is it set up this way?
First of all, each work was selected based upon relevance to the course. I went through past AP exams and gleaned the titles of works that have appeared there. So, I emphasized to my students the need to learn classic literature, works that will likely serve them well on examinations once they were studied by our class. In my first year of teaching the AP course, I made the rookie mistake of believing because I was enthused about the content of a particular book, it was reasonable to believe that my students would share my excitement. I was wrong. A fellow AP teacher approached me and pointed out that she’d seen more than a fair share of the dreaded Cliff’s Notes in the hands of my students. In short, they were simply filling in their novel guides by using the Cliff’s Notes publications. Beyond classroom discussions, I suppose they were hoping for the best should the AP exam demand proof of reading.
How is the testing used?
To ensure my students were reading the novels well enough to answer questions about the text, I wrote the following tests myself in the following manner. If, for example, we were studying a 200-page novel, I would take a test item from every tenth page, roughly speaking. That test design would produce, therefore, a 20-item test spanning the breadth of the book. Almost all of the tests follow this pattern to ensure students finished each act of the play. The items were constructed on a higher-level basis just to verify each student had read. Test scores from the literature exams were weighted enough to impact negatively a student’s grade if they had ignored the assignment. Participation in class discussions increased dramatically, and well-versed students were much more engaging in discussions than those simply posing as having read.
The foundation of an excellent AP essay response is found in a student’s ability to provide textual evidence at a moment’s notice while supporting a sharp analysis of a given novel. A student who articulates a keen point of view relies heavily on knowing details of a given work. The tests found in this unit compels each student to prepare for class each day and to ready oneself for the AP examination in May.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Crucible, Act I . . . . . . . 3
The Crucible, Act I essay . . . . . . 7
The Crucible, Act I key . . . . . . 8
The Crucible, Act II . . . . . . . 12
The Crucible, Act II essay . . . . . . 16
The Crucible, Act II key . . . . . . 17
The Crucible, Act III . . . . . . . 21
The Crucible, Act III essay . . . . . . 25
The Crucible, Act III key . . . . . . 26
The Crucible, Act IV . . . . . . . 29
The Crucible, Act IV essay . . . . . . 33
The Crucible, Act IV key . . . . . . 34