Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Visualizing assessment

Emily Kissner wrote this amazing book: The Forest And The Trees. She has a great visualizing lesson that I will share with you:
There was a spooky house on Erin's street. It was made out of brick and seemed to tower over everything else. The crumbling chimney looked as if it was about to fall on the sagging roof. Shutters hung by their hinges next to the second-floor windows, which had tattered curtains hanging in them. The porch looked like it would fall down at any moment. Erin stared at the weedy, overgrown walkway and the bushes that clustered around the front door. She couldn't imagine being brave enough to walk inside. But there was one thing that seemed out of place. The doorbell was bright and shiny, as if it were brand-new.

The directions are to draw a picture of the scene described. This is not a test of your artistic skills.

I have the children draw this scene without any further explanation. (colored pencils are best) After I have them "grade" each others picture according to a checklist which gives everything a point value. For example:
  1. crumbling chimney 1 point
  2. tattered curtains 1 point
and so on. At the end of the checklist I have written: critical detail: 10 points! This activity really helps you understand how well children visualize when they read. It also lends itself to talking about questioning and inferring. The critical detail is the bright shiny doorbell. Why would a house in such disrepair have a "new" doorbell? (questioning) Hmmm, maybe this house is not what it appears to be (inferring). Some children miss the critical detail entirely. It is important to have them reflect about why they missed it. Christine

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