ESL Sarah, Plain and Tall Formative Assessment Examples

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

If you are teaching literature to ESL students, you might want to use some formative assessment to understand and monitor where they are with texts. This lesson gives you formative assessments you can use with 'Sarah, Plain and Tall'.

Teaching with Formative Assessments

Are you teaching Patricia MacLachlan's Sarah, Plain and Tall to a class that contains ESL students? This book can be a wonderful one for addressing themes like loneliness, love, and what it means to move to a new place. It can be a terrific book for helping students learn about American history, as well.

If you want your students to get as much as possible out of the text, you may want to give formative assessments. A formative assessment is one that helps you understand what your students know and are learning so that you can modify your instruction to meet them where they already are. This lesson provides some examples of formative assessments that can be particularly helpful in teaching Sarah, Plain and Tall to ESL students.

Vocabulary Assessment

For students who are learning English, mastering new vocabulary and making sense of it in context can be one of the most important aspects of any encounter with literature. Here is a formative assessment you can use to see how your students are doing with the vocabulary in Sarah, Plain and Tall.

  • Write a definition of each of the following words in your own voice, using context clues from the book to help you.
    • dusk
    • homely
    • troublesome
    • wretched
    • prairie
  • Write a sentence using each of the vocabulary words below. Make sure that your sentence makes sense and that you are using the words properly.
    • feisty
    • murmur
    • energetic
    • insult
    • prefer
  • Look over the chapter of Sarah, Plain and Tall that you are about to read. Choose three unfamiliar words that stand out to you as new and interesting, even without doing a close reading. Write each of the words below and look them up in the dictionary to offer a definition. Then, write a sentence using each word.

Conceptual Assessment

Understanding students' grasp of the main concepts and themes in Sarah, Plain and Tall is also important. This assessment will help you get a handle on what your students do and do not know about the big ideas behind the book.

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