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This Jack London’s “To Build a Fire” comprehensive assessment will save you hours of time. Know ahead that this assessment is an open-text variety—it assesses reading skills and not necessarily recall. I suggest using the short story as a mentor text for an interactive read aloud. Before you begin, set the context for your students by reviewing . . .
1) the 1897-8 Klondike Gold Rush;
2) Jack London and his literary works;
3) how the tilt of the Earth on its axis along with its 365-day trip around the sun affects the seasons;
4) a theme statement;
5) plot and its component parts such as exposition, complication, climax—turning point, and resolution—denouement.
In this document, expect to find twelve questions and a complete answer key for both the objective and the short-answer questions. I designed the questions with the Common Core in mind. Although the assessment has just twelve questions, it is five pages because embedded in it are a multitude of passages from the story. Also, many of the questions are formatted similar to the PARCC; they have two parts and multiple answer stems the student will have to select. If students practice with this format throughout the year, there will be little need to spend weeks on standardized test prep before the PARCC.
***I encourage you to preview this document. I think you will like what you see. ***
After reading this with your students, you may like to share Robert Service’s poems “The Cremation of Sam McGee” and/or “The Shooting of Dan McGrew,” both set during the Klondike Gold Rush. You can find the texts of both poems on line as well as videos.
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