Writing Diagnostics and Introduction to Literary Terms
These two diagnostics will give the new teacher an idea of how well her students write, and whether they know the basic terms needed to navigate literature.
- Grades: 9–12
- Unit Plan:
Students will demonstrate their essay writing abilities and any prior knowledge of basic literary terms. This lesson offers an introduction to the basic literary terms they'll be using throughout the unit.
- Organize information in a persuasive essay
- Define, use, and apply literary terms
- Essay Writing Prompts (PDF)
- Distribute the Literary Terms Diagnostic (PDF) to each student.
- Inform students that this is just to see what they already know, and that it is NOT a test.
- After the students finish, collect the diagnostics, distribute the notebook paper, and ask students to write down the words, leaving blank space between each word.
- Ask students if there are any terms that they already know how to define.
- As the students volunteer definitions, write them on the board, and have the students copy the definitions onto their notebook paper.
- As you define each term provide an example (i.e., the protagonist is the main character, so Cinderella is the protagonist in her story).
- After all terms have been defined, distribute another sheet of notebook paper and tell each student to choose a book, movie, or TV show.
- Instruct the students to identify the protagonist, antagonist, setting, climax, conflict, and resolution within the book, movie, or TV show they've chosen.
- Instruct students to briefly review the definition notes they took the day before.
- Distribute the second literary terms diagnostic sheet. Instruct students to fill it out to the best of their ability, because you want to see what they've retained.
- Distribute the Essay Writing Prompt (PDF) of your choice, or invite the students to choose which prompt they'd like to answer. Explain that this is NOT a test, but a writing sample for you to gauge where everyone is in the writing process.
- After collecting the essays, divide students into groups, explain the culminating activity from the unit plan page, and let them begin working on it.
Supporting All Learners
These activities are any-level-learner friendly. More advanced learners will tend to attempt more ambitious writing. Proper differentiated instruction can come in your written comments on their work.
Try to foster as much relationship building between high school students and their parents as possible. Here are two suggestions:
- Have your students try to watch a TV show or movie with their parents. They should ask their parents if they know any of the terms you've learned and how they are reflected in the TV show or movie.
- Have them take the writing prompt home to their parents and ask them how they would answer it. Bring back the responses the following day and share some of them.
- Take two literary term diagnostic tests.
- Take notes on definitions of key literary terms.
- Identify certain literary terms from the book, movie, or TV show of your choice.
- Write a diagnostic essay.
- Work as a group to create a story that includes some of the literary terms and come up with a creative way of presenting it.
- Did the students apply the terms correctly to their chosen movies, books, and TV shows?
- How well are you transitioning between assignments?
- Are your directions clear and understandable, or do you have to constantly keep repeating the directions in one-on-one conversations?
- Do you know everyone's name by now?
- Who has returned the parent assignments? This might show you whose parents are a bit more involved.
- Have you been able to use any of the personal information you gathered from the Bio Poems and Classmate Inventories to help you deal with a behavioral situation?
Look for any improvement between the literary term diagnostics you gave on day one and on day two. Who didn't improve? As you read the essays, look for things such as good/bad mechanics, organization, sentence structure, spelling, vocabulary risks, supporting ideas, and how well the students answered the questions.