Story Setting Assessment

Here is the assessment that goes along with the story-setting writing lesson plan. Each step has questions that are one level higher on Bloom’s Taxonomy. The actual design of the assessment looks way nicer than it does on the blog.

Writing Assessment

Follow the instructions carefully to turn this poorly written story setting into a well-written story setting.

Martha was ten years old. She loved to wear matching clothes, especially red ones, because red was her favorite color. She had beautiful, auburn hair. She also had a problem with being late for school. Every morning she had to run out of her house in a little town in central Minnesota at full speed so she wouldn’t miss the bus. One beautiful, sunny morning in late autumn, something happened that would ensure that Martha was never late to school again.

Step 1: Remember what you know about story settings

  • What are different types of story setting facts? List at least three.
  • What kind of orientation should story settings have?

Step 2: Make sure you comprehend the above story setting

  • Paraphrase the facts about Martha found in the above story setting.
  • Determine what kind of story setting fact it is.
  • Is each fact describing the character, the location, the time, or other? If other, identify what it is (e.g. weather).

Example: Martha is ten years old – Character fact

Step 3: Apply what you know about good story settings to brainstorm ways to rewrite this one

  • Consider how you would weave each one of the facts you listed in Step 2 as clues in more action-oriented story setting sentences.
  • You can brainstorm multiple ways for each fact.

Example: 
Original: Martha is ten years old
Better: “Does every fifth grader have the same problems as I do?” Martha huffed.

Step 4: Analyze your ideas to see how they compare to what you know about good story settings

  • Compare each original sentence to each of your new ideas.
  • What is the difference between the original sentence and your new sentences?
  • Explain what changed between your sentences and the original sentences.

Example: “Does every fifth grader have the same problems as I do?” Martha huffed.
     -Contains dialogue
     -Written from the character’s perspective
     -Age given as a clue, not openly stated

Step 5: Evaluate your ideas in light of what makes a story setting interesting

  • Are your new ideas for the story setting sentences more intriguing/interesting than the originals? Why or why not?
  • Are there any ways can you make your sentences even better?
  • After revising your sentences based on your ideas, circle or indicate which idea for each fact is the best (if you brainstormed multiple ideas per fact in Step 2).

Step 6: Create a new, improved story setting

  • Using your ideas from Steps 3-5, recreate the original story setting by compiling each sentence that you identified as best in Step 5 into a new story setting.
  • Add transitions or other sentences if necessary to make the story setting flow.

Differentiation:

  • Visual learners (those who learn best through seeing) as well as ELLs who can read English a little should find the visual examples of certain steps helpful.
  • ELLs who cannot read/write much English will be allowed to have a native-speaking friend/aide translate the assessment to them, and will be allowed to complete it in their native language.
  • Auditory learners (those who learn best through hearing) as well as students with learning disabilities or emotional struggles who are overwhelmed or upset by the length of the assessment will be allowed to complete it orally, either recording/video-taping it or in person with me, instead of writing it.
  • Kinesthetic learners (those who learn best by being physically involved) can role play the differences between the original story setting and what an improved setting would look like (i.e. action-oriented) and/or video-tape their story setting brainstorming process. Allowing an active completion of this assessment might also benefit students with ADHD.
  • Gifted students will be welcome to incorporate their individual gifts/talents into this assessment activity. For example, they could create artwork to accompany the story setting or write the rest of the story (after finishing the setting). Another option if students finish early is to find a story setting in a favorite book and see if they can improve it.
  • If students from other cultures or countries (or even other states) would like, they can personalize their well-written story setting to fit their culture and native residence. They can put in a name that is from their native language (instead of Martha), have it taking place in their native country or state (e.g. Britain, Mexico, Maryland), incorporate how they would get to school (if they wouldn’t ride the bus), and so on.
  • If two students (perhaps a gifted learner and a struggling learner) want to complete this assessment together so they can brainstorm and bounce ideas off each other, that is fine too. The main point is to see if they can turn a poorly-written story setting into a well-written story setting and document their thinking processes along the way.
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