; Lauren Hayden
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Lauren Hayden


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                               SECTION ONE: Lesson Foundations
(1)     The lesson that follows is designed to teach eleventh-grade students specific
characteristics of colonial and Puritan literature, and then how to appropriately apply this
understanding to analyze period-influences on the poetry of Anne Bradstreet. As members of the
highest level of English offered for juniors, the students within this class are all high-achieving,
accelerated students with average to above-average cognitive levels.
        In the scope of the entire year, this course is designed to develop students‟ ability to read,
write, analyze, and synthesize ideas within the context of American literature. Course units are
arranged chronologically, beginning with colonial literature and ending with postmodern
writings. Accordingly, part of the eleventh grade curriculum, as outlined by Ohio‟s Academic
Content Standards, requires students to analyze a piece of literature in relation to the influences
of a particular literary period and author—a crucial skill when critically readings works from a
historical/literary period dating back 350 years. According to the Ohio Academic Content
Standards for English Language Arts, the specific Standards, Benchmarks, and Indicators for this
lesson are as follows:
    Standard: Reading Applications: Literary Text
     Grades 11-12 Benchmark C: Recognize and analyze characteristics of subgenres and
        literary periods.
             o Grade 11 Indicator #7: Analyze the characteristics of various literary periods
                 and subgenres and how the issues of the time influenced the writers of those
                 periods and their works.

     For this particular lesson, students have prior knowledge in a few of the basic historical and
literary characteristics of colonial America and Puritanism. In the weeks leading up to the lesson,
students read Nathanial Hawthorne‟s The Scarlet Letter and Arthur Miller‟s The Crucible, both
of which are laden with Puritan themes and ideas (e.g., predestination, the inevitability of sin,
and promise for heavenly rewards for the elect). These period-influences were discussed through
whole and small-group discussion, group presentations, and film analysis. In terms of literary
analysis, students have learned basic techniques for making a claim and using textual evidence to
synthesize an argument about a work during the ninth and tenth grades.
     In future lessons, students will be writing a more complex, processed expository piece
exploring Anne Bradstreet‟s shifting view on her Puritan faith as expressed in the full scope of
her poetry. Subsequently, students will incorporate their knowledge of Puritanism and
colonialism as constructed and addressed within this lesson.

(2)      The class participating in this lesson is composed of high school juniors (twelve female,
ten male) at the Accelerated level—the most challenging English class offered for this age group.
As a result, these students rank at or above grade level in terms of class success and cognitive
abilities associated with the English classroom. Even though there‟s no one with an IEP or 504
plan, the ability levels and learning needs vary greatly among all twenty-two students. The lesson
that follows is appropriately differentiated and conducive to this wide array of learners.
         First, the opening chart-paper activity allows for students to write down their own ideas,
thoughts, and questions in response to their specific understanding of last night‟s reading; every
student will have their own individual reaction and comprehension of the different topics listed
around the room. Using Howard Gardner‟s multiple intelligence categories, this particular
activity is directed at students with bodily-kinesthetic, linguistic, interpersonal, and spatial
cognitive abilities: students are actively moving around the room, writing down their responses
                                                                                            Sotelo 2

to concepts, interacting and discussing ideas with classmates, and are spatially arranging their
ideas via semantic mapping.
         A majority of the lesson is comprised of discussion, both in whole group and small group
settings. When discussing the chart-paper topics as a whole group, students‟ responses, ideas,
and questions that were written down serve as a primary guide for discussion. As a result, the
discussion is shaped by students‟ particular understandings of the previous night‟s reading.
During this time, students are also able to bring up additional ideas, questions, and connections
that align with their own individual learning needs (e.g. comprehension, clarification, etc). The
small group setting allows for students to practice reading and discussing a poem with increased
opportunities to ask questions and synthesize ideas. This portion of the lesson also allows for the
instructor to check in on a more individual basis with students to monitor understanding and
confusion (“What Puritan characteristics has your group identified?”)
         Even though all of the students in the class are at the accelerated level, a wide range of
ability levels exist within the class demographic. Many of the students were enrolled in Honors
English during tenth grade, while others moved up from the Academic level. As a result, students
have respectively more or less practice than others with poetry analysis and incorporating
background information. For the students with comparatively lower skills, I specifically
monitored their comprehension during small group work and class discussion. Additionally, the
course‟s online BlackBoard site provides a link to a web archive of Anne Bradstreet poetry. I
encourage all students to use these poems to continue practicing identifying period
characteristics and connecting them to specific lines from the text. While conducting this lesson,
I directly recommended a student who was struggling with the exercises to this poetry archive.
         In order to challenge students who display above-average cognitive ability in relation to
their classmates, I recommended (to the whole class) particular poems by Edward Taylor and
other Puritan poets that are more difficult to analyze and identify Puritan/colonial influences. In
addition, I tell students to challenge themselves by reading Jonathan Edward‟s sermon, Sinners
in the Hands of an Angry God, in their text books in order to practice analyzing period-
influences in a prose piece. Overall, all students are constantly encouraged to ask questions and
clarify ideas during the course of all activities; this provides students the chance to control their
own individual understanding during and throughout the learning process.

(3)     In order to address the targeted benchmark and indicator, this particular lesson
incorporates multiple instructional strategies that allow a diverse group of students to actively
learn, observe, and practice specific skills. First, teacher-directed class discussion was used in
discussing the material from their reading assignment. Even though the ideas and topics posed in
the chart-paper activity were used as a general guide for discussion, I controlled the tempo and
direction of student dialogue—as well as interjecting and emphasizing particularly important
ideas and information (e.g. “Blake brings up an important point: Puritan writers tried to keep
their writing simple and direct, just like the Bible.”). Second, small group discussion was used as
students analyzed “Verses” for literary period influences. Third, “think aloud” modeling was
used to demonstrate how to structure their responses to the poems by both identifying historical
characteristics and then connecting their influences to specific lines from the text. Resources
used during this lesson include tape, chart-paper, Elements of Literature textbook, and my
cooperating teacher (as an additional person to circulate around the room during small group
                                                                                        Sotelo 3

Sycamore High School
Grade: 11
Subject: English
Date: 10/3/07
                            The Poetry of Anne Bradstreet:
                  Analyzing Influences of Colonialism and Puritanism
Lesson Goal
The goal of this lesson is for students to:
    Identify the particular characteristics of a literary period (colonialism) and subgenre
      (Puritan writing).
    Recognize the influences of this literary period and subgenre in the poetry of Puritan
      Anne Bradstreet.
    Specifically connect and synthesize period and genre characteristics with lines and ideas
      from Bradstreet‟s poetry through written response.

Attention to Ohio Standards: Grade Level 11-12 Benchmarks, Grade 11 Indicators

Reading Applications: Concepts of Print, Comprehension Strategies and Self-Monitoring
Strategies Standard
    Benchmark B: Demonstrate comprehension of print and electronic text by responding to
       questions (e.g., literal, inferential, evaluative and synthesizing).
           o Indicator #2: Answer literal, inferential, evaluative and synthesizing questions to
              demonstrate comprehension of grade-appropriate print texts and electronic and
              visual media.
Reading Applications: Literary Text Standard
    Benchmark C: Recognize and analyze characteristics of subgenres and literary periods.
           o Indicator #7: Analyze the characteristics of various literary periods and subgenres
              and how the issues of the time influenced the writers of those periods and their
Writing Applications Standard
    Benchmark B: Write responses to literature that provide an interpretation, recognize
       ambiguities, nuances, and complexities and that understand the author‟s use of stylistic
       devices and effects created.
           o Indicator #2a: Write responds to literature that advance a judgment that is
              interpretative, analytical, evaluative, or reflective.
           o Indicator #2b: Write responses to literature that support key ideas and viewpoints
              with accurate and detailed references to the text or to other works and authors.
Writing Conventions Standard
    Benchmark A: Use correct spelling conventions.
           o Indicator # 1: Use correct spelling conventions.
    Benchmark B: Use correct punctuation and capitalization.
           o Indicator #2: Use correct punctuation and capitalization.
    Benchmark C: Demonstrate understanding of the grammatical conventions of the English
           o Indicator #3: Use correct grammar.
Research Standard
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     Benchmark B: Compile, organize and evaluate information, take notes and summarize
          o Indicator # 4: Analyze the complexities and discrepancies in information and
             systematically organize relevant information to support central ideas, concepts
             and themes.
The Lesson
Materials Needed:
    Elements of Literature textbook (both student and teacher copies)
          Beers, K., Probst, R., Vacca, R., et al. (2000). Elements of literature: Fifth course.
             Austin, TX: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.
          o Pages 2-18: “Beginnings” & 68-70: “Verses Upon the Burning of Our House”
    Chart paper (five pieces)
    Markers (20)
    Tape

Prior Work:
Prior to this lesson, students have been studying pieces of colonial literature, including Miller‟s
The Crucible and Hawthorne‟s The Scarlet Letter. During the previous day, students took two
pre-assessments that measured their understanding of the colonial literary period and a particular
poem from this genre. The first, a multiple-choice quiz, assessed students‟ knowledge of colonial
America, Puritanism, and characteristics of Puritan writing. The second preassessment was an in-
class essay, for which students read Anne Bradstreet‟s “Verses Upon the Burning of Our House”
and then analyzed how the literary period influenced Bradstreet and her poem. For homework
the previous night, students read pages 2-18 in their Elements of Literature text about historical,
philosophical, and literary movements taking place from precolonialism to 1800.

Lead/Intro/Attention Getter:
        At the start of class, there are five pieces of large chart paper spaced along different
portions of the wall, each of which have a different topic written on them from last night‟s
reading: Deism, Rationalism, The Puritan Legacy (Who? Beliefs? Values?), Puritan writing, and
Benjamin Franklin & the Self-Made Man.
    Using their textbooks as their resources, students are instructed to write a comment, fact, or
idea on all five pieces of chart paper over the next 5-7 minutes. Each piece of chart paper has the
topic in the middle of the page, and students are expected to use a semantic-mapping structure
(with connecting lines and bubbles) to build on and react to what their classmates said.
                                                                                           (5 minutes)
“Beginnings” Chapter Large-Group Discussion
 After students are seated from their initial semantic-mapping exercise, instruct students to get
    out their textbooks and turn to last night‟s reading.
 Instruct students to take notes throughout the class discussion.
 Explain to students that we‟ll be using the ideas and reactions to the chart-paper topics to
    guide our discussion on last night‟s reading. Before doing so, however, clarify for students
    the purpose for learning about characteristics of historical and literary periods.
        o Ask: “My question to all of you is this: what’s the point? Why on earth are we
            reading about these history-based ideas in a literature course?”
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  Students‟ responses will spark a brief discussion exploring the value and purpose of using
   background information as a way to better understand literary periods.
       o Ask: How did our understanding of McCarthyism and the Red Scare aid our
           understanding of The Crucible?
 Conduct large-group discussion using the five chart-paper topics to guide the discussion of
   the historical, philosophical, and literary movements presented in the novel.
       o For each topic, make the chart-paper concept map visible to all students and read
           aloud the ideas and their related connections. After doing so, use these ideas as a
           guided outline for discussion.
       o In addition to students‟ ideas and connections as written on the chart paper, the
           instructor also clarifies and supplements the discussion topics as needed.
       o For each topic, ask students to ask questions and further discuss the chart-paper ideas.
           Students must point to textual support from the reading throughout this discussion.
                                                                                    (20 minutes)
“Verses Upon the Burning of Our House” Small Group Exploration
 Ask students to turn to Bradstreet‟s “Verses Upon the Burning of Our House” in their texts.
 Remind students of yesterday‟s essay prompt, which asked them to write about how
   influences of the literary period influenced Bradstreet and her writing of “Verses.”
 Model for students how to phrase a text-based, analytical statement.
     o “Think aloud” for the students with a specific line from Bradstreet‟s poem.
                Say: “„Raise up thy thoughts above the sky/That dunghill mists away may
                    fly.‟ Hmm, raising thoughts above the sky must be referring to heaven, and
                    maybe those „dunghill mists‟ are referring to the rubble from her burned-down
                    house. Well, as a Puritan, Bradstreet was saying that the rewards she believes
                    await for her in heaven make the material presence of her house unimportant.”
     o Remind students that their analysis should both identify characteristics from
         Puritanism/colonialism, and also connect these influences to specific lines and phrases
         from the poem.
 Instruct students to count of by eights in order to form groups of three. Each group must
   designate one member as the “recorder,” who will be taking notes on their group‟s ideas
   throughout the discussion.
 Ask students to discuss “Verses” within their group, looking specifically at how the literary
   time period influenced Bradstreet and her poem.
     o Groups‟ responses should focus on using specific lines and textual support to validate
         their connections.
     o Encourage each group to discuss influences and poetic elements that they didn’t discuss
         in their in-class essay from the previous day.                             (15 minutes)

 “Verses Upon the Burning of Our House” Large Group Discussion
 Coming back together as a whole group, ask one member from each small group to share
   their ideas about the period-influences on “Verses.”
     o Emphasize the elements of Puritan writing that are present within this piece, as well as
          structuring their responses in accordance to the think-aloud model above. (10 minutes)
       Students must look back over the previous night‟s reading and their notes on Bradstreet‟s
“Verses” as preparation for an in-class assignment the following day.
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Connection to Future Learning:
        Today‟s lesson will be preparing students to analyze another Bradstreet poem, “Upon a
Fit of Sickness,” in terms of its influences from the colonial period and Puritan subgenre.
Additionally, students will be prepared from today‟s lesson to take a multiple choice quiz on
important aspects about early American history, philosophy, and literature.
        In the scope of the larger unit, today‟s lesson serves as a model for how historical
background should be used to understand all pieces of literature. In addition, the analysis of
poetry via expository essays connects to following lessons on using the TPCASST procedure for
poetry analysis, as well as writing a processed, drafted literary analysis on Puritan poetry.

       See Question #2 above in the Lesson Foundation section.

Assessment Procedures
        Student learning is assessed through the students‟ presentation of concepts and ideas on
the semantic maps, the topics and questions addressed by students during discussion, the notes
taken by each group while analyzing “Verses,” and general participation and engagement with
the information during small and whole class activities.

                              SECTION TWO: Assessment Plan
(1 & 2) In order to gauge and respond to student learning, I used two different types of
assessments that corresponded with the goals and target indicators of this lesson.

Assessment #1: The first type of assessment used was a thirteen-question multiple choice quiz.
This quiz was used to assess students‟ abilities to “recognize the characteristics of subgenres and
literary periods” (Ohio Department of Education, 2001). The literary period focused on for this
lesson was colonial America, so the quiz was based off of the information in pages 2-18 of their
Elements of Literature textbook; this reading addressed specific historical and literary
characteristics of this era (e.g., Rationalism, Deism, Puritan beliefs and writing). The pre-
assessment and post-assessment were comprised of the same thirteen questions, but with a
differing order of questions and possible answers.
        The pre-assessment was given on Tuesday, October 2 at the beginning of class (see
Appendix). When introducing the quiz to the students, I told them that I “want to know what you
know” about Puritanism and colonial America. Even though a lot of them have picked up on
scattered historical information from reading The Scarlet Letter, I told students that I was
interested in gauging the depth of their knowledge on America‟s beginnings. This was graded the
same night for specific item-analysis, but never handed back.
        The post-assessment was given the day after the lesson (and two days after the pre-
assessment) on Thursday, October 4. As stated, the quiz used the same questions from their
reading on colonial America and assessed student‟s ability to recognize characteristics of
colonialism and Puritanism. This was graded and handed back on Monday, October 8. For both
assessments, students had 15-20 minutes to complete the quiz; each question was worth one
point, for a total of thirteen points. For the data tables to follow in Question #3, I graphed the
percentage of individual and class improvement between pre- and post-assessment scores.

Assessment #2: The second type of assessment was an in-class analytical essay about an Anne
Bradstreet poem. This essay was used to assess students‟ ability to “analyze…how the issues of
                                                                                                                      Sotelo 7

the time influenced the writers of those periods and their works” (Ohio Department of Education,
2001). In this case, the “issues of the time” refer to tenets of Puritan beliefs, values, and writing
styles in colonial America. For this essay, students had to read a poem by Puritan writer Anne
Bradstreet and analyze how the characteristics of the literary period influenced the work.
Subsequently, this prompt asks students to both recognize characteristics of Puritanism in the
poem and then analyze how these elements (such as theme, structure, diction) influenced
specific lines and aspects of the poem. For both the pre- and post-assessments, the essay was
worth 20 points—six points for recognizing literary period characteristics, two for writing
mechanics, and twelve points for clearly connecting these characteristics‟ influences to specific
textual examples (see Appendix B for rubric and pre-assessment).
        The pre-assessment was given the same day as the multiple-choice pre-assessment;
students had about 30 minutes to complete their essays in response to Bradstreet‟s poem, “Verses
Upon the Burning of Our House.” These essays were graded that evening, with special attention
to the ability to both recognize and analyze the literary period‟s influences within the poem.
        The post-assessment was given the day after the lesson—the same day as the multiple
choice post-assessment. Once again, students had 30 minutes to write, but this time on a
thematically-similar poem by Anne Bradstreet, “Upon a Fit of Sickness.” These essays were
graded and handed back the following Monday, accompanied by written and oral feedback of
students‟ abilities to address both parts of the essay prompt (recognition of characteristics and
analysis of influences). For the data tables to follow in Question #3, I graphed the percentage of
improvement between Part I of the essay (recognizing period characteristics), Part II of the essay
(analyzing influences on the poem), and the overall individual and whole-class scores.

 (3) Overall, it was clear that                                                   Literary Periods Quiz Results
students‟ ability to recognize
and analyze characteristics of                                   14
                                    Score Obtained [Out of 13]

Puritanism and colonialism                                       12
significantly increased via
lesson content and pre- and
post-assessments. When                                           8                                                          Pretest Score
looking at students‟ scores on                                   6                                                          Posttest Score
the Literary Periods multiple-                                   4
choice quiz, the average pre-
test score was a 7.64 out of
13—compared with an 11.68                                        0
out of 13 on the post-test.                                           1   3   5   7    9   11 13 15 17 19 21
Overall, students‟ scores                                                     Individual Student Number
increased by 62.47 percent.
                                  Literary Periods Quiz: Bell 7 Results
   Student Number         Pretest Score                               Posttest Score        Percent Increase (Pretest vs. Posttest)
          1                     7                                           12                             71.4%
          2                    10                                           13                             30.0%
          3                     6                                           12                            100.0%
          4                     8                                           10                             25.0%
          5                     8                                           11                             37.5%
          6                     9                                           12                             33.3%
          7                     6                                           13                            116.7%
          8                     6                                           12                            100.0%
          9                     8                                           12                             50.0%
         10                     9                                           13                             44.4%
         11                    10                                           13                             30.0%
                                                                                                             Sotelo 8
                   12                       10                  11                                10.0%
                   13                        9                   9                                 0.0%
                   14                        8                  13                                62.5%
                   15                        9                  13                                44.4%
                   16                        3                  10                               233.3%
                   17                        8                  11                                37.5%
                   18                        7                  12                                71.4%
                   19                        5                   9                                80.0%
                   20                        6                  10                                66.7%
                   21                        7                  13                                85.7%
                   22                        9                  13                                44.4%
          Average Score                    7.64                11.68
          Average Percent                 58.74%              89.86%                             62.47%

          On the essay assessment,
          students‟ writing scores also                        Percentage Increase on Essay Portions
          showed obvious
          improvement between the                                                              22.82%
          pre- and post-assessments.         25%
          On Part I of the essay                                                                      17.32%
                                                              % Increase for Part I
          requirements (recognizing          20%
                                                              % Increase for Part II
          period characteristics),
                                                              Total Percent Increase
          students showed an average         15%
          of 18.48% improvement. On
          Part II of the essay               10%

          requirements (analyzing
          specific period influences in
          the poem), students showed          0%
          an average of 22.82%
          improvement. Overall, scores
          increased from an average of 16.09 out of 20 to 18.36 out of 20—a total increase of 17.32%.

                      Pretest Score                             Posttest Score                     %           %
Student                                                                                        Increase    Increase
              Part I:          Part II:    Total        Part I:          Part II:    Total                               Percent
Number                                                                                          for Part    for Part
           Recognizes        Connects     Pretest    Recognizes        Connects     Posttest                            Increase
                                                                                                    I           II
          characteristics   lines/ideas   Score     characteristics   lines/ideas    Score
     1                 6             8         16         6                   10          18     0.00%      25.00%       12.50%
     2                 6            12         20         5                   12          19   -16.67%       0.00%       -5.00%
     3                 4             8         13         6                   10          18    50.00%      25.00%       38.46%
     4                 6            10         18         6                   11          19     0.00%      10.00%        5.56%
     5                 3             7         11         5                   11          17    66.67%      57.14%       54.55%
     6                 5             8         15         5                   12          19     0.00%      50.00%       26.67%
     7                 6            10         18         6                   11          19     0.00%      10.00%        5.56%
     8                 4            10         16         6                   12          20    50.00%      20.00%       25.00%
     9                 4             8         14         4                   11          17     0.00%      37.50%       21.43%
    10                 5             8         15         6                   12          20    20.00%      50.00%       33.33%
    11                 6            12         20         4                   11          17   -33.33%      -8.33%      -15.00%
    12                 6            12         20         6                   12          20     0.00%       0.00%        0.00%
    13                 6             8         15         6                   12          19     0.00%      50.00%       26.67%
    14                 4             8         14         6                   10          17    50.00%      25.00%       21.43%
                                                                                                  Sotelo 9

15               6          12          19         6                 10         18     0.00%    -16.67%      -5.26%
16               4          12          18         6                 10         18    50.00%    -16.67%       0.00%
17               5          12          19         6                 11         19    20.00%     -8.33%       0.00%
18               4          10          16         6                 11         19    50.00%     10.00%      18.75%
19               6           8          15         6                  9         16     0.00%     12.50%       6.67%
20               4           4          10         6                  9         17    50.00%    125.00%      70.00%
21               4           8          14         6                 10         18    50.00%     25.00%      28.57%
22               6          10          18         6                 12         20     0.00%     20.00%      11.11%

                              SECTION THREE: Research Knowledge Base
     (1)     The instructional strategies utilized in this lesson are rooted in and supported by
     educational research for learning effectiveness.
             The first instructional strategy, teacher-directed class discussion, is upheld by the ideas
     discussed by Dr. Virginia O‟Keefe (1995) in Speaking to Think/ Thinking to Speak. According to
     O‟Keefe, “we need to talk to improve learning [because] working with knowledge demands
     more than recall of information; it requires building knowledge structures” (p.6); subsequently,
     whole-class discussion allows for students to grapple with ideas and construct knowledge with
     the presence of the teacher as mediator and resource. In this particular lesson, students‟ ideas
     from the chart-paper activity were used to guide discussion—a type of whole class discussion
     dubbed “the discovery mode” by O‟Keefe. Though teacher-directed, this type of student-
     organized discussion “places the teacher and the students in a cooperative position as they decide
     speech acts” (p.25). As a result, motivation and construction of meaning is differentiated
     through students‟ “hypothesis testing” (pg.25) of their ideas and concepts.
             Using small-group discussion is also supported by O‟Keefe in Speaking to Think/
     Thinking to Speak. After deeming the abounding research on small group discussion as generally
     positive, O‟Keefe writes that “group work produces more actively engaged, task-oriented
     behavior” (90). Most importantly, O‟Keefe emphasizes the small group setting‟s ability to
     actually individualize the learning of each student: “the struggling student profits from an
     interactive situation where she or he receives feedback from peers. And, students at all
     achievement levels benefit from the opportunity to „rehearse‟ new concepts as they talk through
     problems” (p.91). Students help each other construct meaning and clarify important concepts.
             Think-aloud modeling is a strategy introduced by Jeffrey Wilhelm (2001) in Improving
     Comprehension with Think-Aloud Strategies. This particular instructional method demonstrates
     for students the thought process that should be used while reading different types of texts; in this
     case, a think-aloud was used to show students how I connected literary period characteristics
     with specific lines from the poem while reading. According to Wilhelm, using “think-alouds
     allow all students to hear how others sleuth out and make sense of all these text clues so they can
     recognize and adopt these strategies as their own” (p.19). Think-alouds give students a tool to
     adopt on an individual-basis to monitor personal comprehension during the reading process, and
     also how to phrase their responses to textual analysis.

     (2)      Just as with the previously discussed instructional strategies, the assessments utilized in
     this lesson are rooted in and supported by educational research. Using multiple choice
     assessments is supported by a number of educational resources, including Patti Shank‟s (2002)
     article “Better Multiple Choice Tests.” According to Shank, multiple choice tests are effective
     because they can efficiently measure multi-leveled learning objectives, “from simple recall and
     comprehension to more complex levels, such as ability to analyze a situation, apply principles,
                                                                                          Sotelo 10

discriminate, interpret, judge relevance, select best solutions, and so on” (p. 1). Multiple choice
tests, therefore, allow for all students‟ knowledge of specific objective information, such as
historical background, to be directly measured.
         Essay assessments are able to effectively measure higher cognitive domains of student
learning by “determining how students can analyze, synthesize, evaluate, think logically, solve
problems, and hypothesize” (Ornstein, 1992, p.175). Additionally, essay assessments are also an
effective learning tool because they help students “cement knowledge already acquired [and]
also enables students to synthesize new concepts as they use old information in new ways”
(Benson, 1991, p.74). For juniors in high school, essay writing allows them to use personal
understandings of poetry and colonialism and incorporate it with a new topic and set of ideas.

                          SECTION FOUR: Student Learning Evidence
(1)      Overall, the pre-data, the lesson, and the post-data worked together to effectively
contribute to student learning and extensive individual success. On the multiple-choice pre-
assessment, I wanted students to be able to recognize characteristics of colonialism and
Puritanism; I subsequently performed an item-analysis on each question to see students‟ overall
strengths and weaknesses with the material. It was apparent that students had a good
understanding of the basic tenets of Puritan beliefs, but didn‟t have a grasp on philosophical
movements at the time or aspects of Puritan writing. During the lesson, I was careful to
emphasize this information during whole-group discussion and the chart-paper topics.
Additionally, the reading that students did the night before the lesson addressed the information
in all thirteen questions, which gave further opportunity for learning the information and
reflecting on their pre-test answers earlier in the day. While students averaged only 7.64
questions out of 13 correct on the pre-test, students scored an average of 11.68 out of 13 on the
post-test—answering about four more questions correctly than before.
         For the essay assessment, I wanted my students to be able to analyze how characteristics
of colonialism and Puritanism influenced specific aspects of Anne Bradstreet‟s poetry. On the
pre-test, I evaluated student‟s performance by creating a rubric that scored students on (a)
identifying period characteristics in the poem and (b) connecting them to specific lines and
aspects of the poem. For both objectives, students scored respectively 18.48% and 22.82% better
on the post-test than on the pre-test—going from an average of 16 out of 20 to 18.3 out of 20.
While grading the pre-tests, it was apparent that almost all students were citing the same two
literary period characteristics, with no mention of the tenets of Puritan writing. I addressed this
knowledge gap by making “Puritan writing” a chart-paper topic and directly discussing it as a
whole class. Students also struggled connecting their recognition of period influences to specific
lines and aspects of the poem. In response, I used “think-aloud modeling” to demonstrate how to
think about and phrase their oral/written responses in a way that clearly makes this connection.
This occurred before students discussed “Verses” in small groups, which allowed them to then
practice analyzing an Anne Bradstreet poem and use proper phrasing in groups and also on the
next day‟s essay assessment.
         When looking at the data, there were a couple of students who scored the same or slightly
worse on their post-assessments. For these students, or those that needed extended practice, I
recommended an Anne Bradstreet poetry website that would allow students to work on their
analysis skills the evening before the essay post-assessment. For those who scored highly on
both pre-assessments, I attempted to spread these students out among small groups to aid their
peers in the collaborative learning process.
                                                                                         Sotelo 11

(2)      Completing this project has provided me the tools I need to better control and respond to
my students‟ learning needs. Even though I‟ve used forms of pre-assessments in the past, this
lesson was the first in which I‟ve used two forms of pre- and post-tests. By using two, I was able
to respond so much more thoroughly to the needs of my students. Even though it required
making last-minute to my lesson plan, grading students‟ pre-assessments before the lesson
allowed me to craft the day‟s activities directly around what students did and didn‟t know (e.g.,
chart paper topics, modeling responses, etc). Additionally, I learned that often times secondary
learning needs arise during pre-testing, as when I realized how students were struggling with
clearly communicating literary period influences by using specific textual support; I needed to
provide them with this more basic writing skill before they could proceed to the higher cognitive
domain of analysis and synthesis. Unquestionably, my lesson was significantly more effective by
using a pre- and post-assessments than if I‟d assumed the extent of my students‟ knowledge.
         In the future, one of my goals will be to directly pre-assess what my students know in the
context of a specific benchmark and indicator—whether it‟s through a quiz, a journal, class
discussion, etc. Especially as a current student teacher and an emerging first-year teacher, I will
have potentially limited or basic knowledge of what my students have accomplished or worked-
on in previous years; to compound this uncertainty, every student and every class is highly
unique and has subsequently differing learning needs. In short, never assume.
         Another educational mantra that was reemphasized to me during this process was from
my cohort assessment class: test what you teach. My students‟ success during the lesson and on
their post-assessments was directly related to how I (a) addressed their areas of cognitive and
content-area weaknesses and (b) used consistent methods of assessment that aligned with the
activities and skills used during the lesson. With this in mind, I resolve to always be consistent
with what I teach and what I expect my students to learn and do.
         Perhaps most importantly, I‟ll take with me the idea that I‟m in control of my students‟
learning and development. I may not always be the one making specific curriculum choices, but I
am the one who determines how my students learn and practice certain ideas and skills. Of
course, there‟s a point where my earnest efforts halt and the student‟s motivation and self-
efficacy take over—but I‟ll do everything in my power to take them at least that far.

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