I started sharing assessment pieces that can be used for any literature piece with my friends on a secondary ELA board in our area. I thought it would be better to write about my experience with each one here, then link it to that page. This gives me an opportunity to include examples and such that may help you decide if you’d like to use it.
An assessment that I’ve been using for years is the character mandala from Laying the Foundations. I’ve adapted it for use with Romeo and Juliet, The Outsiders, and I’m going to try it as a person mandala with a piece of nonfiction next quarter. The reason I love the mandala is that it makes students think in a variety of ways. It is also an assessment that has steps, so I can give small check up grades during the process and make sure that no one falls so far behind that they end up with nothing to turn in.
Here are a couple of examples from The Outsiders (done by 7th graders):
Here are three from Romeo and Juliet (done by freshmen):
Obviously these are some of the best ones I’ve gotten, but they are great for displaying the concept which is that everyone has two sides, sun and shadow.
Make sure you do an example with them on the chart (I always use Harry Potter) because many of the students struggle to understand the connections they need to make. Another great thing about this assessment is that even struggling ELA students can come up with some pretty amazing ideas given that we are using symbols to represent the characters.