Recently, we finished reading Tuck Everlasting and my students took their novel test. As a class, we read three whole class novels each year, which are novels that my students wouldn’t normally read on their own. The novels are treated as more formal read-alouds, with mini-lessons tied to each reading. My students take quizzes in preparation for middle and high school and they respond to their reading. They also complete a novel test so that they are prepared for standardized testing, middle school language arts, and high school English classes.
This year, on the novel test for Tuck Everlasting I added a new essay question. The question asked the students to state in an essay whether they felt that Tuck Everlasting should have received a Newbery Medal when it was published. We have only briefly touched on the Newbery in class (they know of my quest to read the Newbery each year before it is chosen) and I was hesitant to ask them a question that required so much higher level thinking on their first novel test this year. Well, I was thrilled when I read over their answers last week! My students not only showed me that they were able to use the strategies we were learning in writing workshop but also that they can articulate their thoughts about books and reading!
Some of my favorite quotes from a few of the essays:
“I think Tuck Everlasting should have won a Newbery Award because it was outstanding. To me outstanding means great, entertaining, what a book should be.”
“Also because it shows that you have to make a lot of hard decisions to make a good life for yourself.”
“My first reason that Tuck Everlasting should get a Newbery Award was that the book treats children like an adult. This book makes children make decisions. Should Winnie drink from the spring? From being a child I know that kids like to be treated like and adult instead of being babied.”
How awesome are those answers? My students gave deep thought to their reasoning and with no prompting were able to write me well-thought out essay. I am so proud of them!