For example, I gave a Common Formative Assessment (CFA) on the objective "figurative language and sound devices" in poetry. Most of my students knew what devices like metaphor, hyperbole, alliteration, and, everyone's favorite, onomatopoeia are by definition. Most could also match a list of examples with the devices they represented. For example, most could look at a sentence such as, "the sun beat on my head with angry, hot fists" and identify the devices as personification.
However, when presented with poetry that contained these devices, they had trouble identifying the figure of speech or the sound device being used.
|Which one is it????|
Here is a poem from a Glencoe supplemental publication to be used to prepare for the Oklahoma End-of-Instruction test for English II:
by NAOMI LONG MADGETT
I like the smell of new clothes,
The novel aroma of challenge.
This dress has no past
Linked with regretful memories
To taint it,
Only a future as hopeful
As my own.
I can say of an old garment
Laid away in a trunk:
“This lace I wore on that day when. . . .”
But I prefer the new scent
Of a garment unworn,
Untainted like the new self
That I become
When I first wear it.
Here is a question for this selection:
What does the speaker mean when she says, “This dress has no past /
Linked with regretful memories / To taint it?”
A The speaker does not have a past that could be spoiled by the dress.
B The speaker does not know anything about the person who made the dress.
C New clothes are good because they do not remind us of the past.
D A new dress is good because it has never been worn by another person
The correct answer is "C", but many of my students would choose "A" or even "D" because they would either speculate on the speaker, or they would choose the answer that they would associate most with new clothes.
So what I will need to do is to teach them to be active readers of poetry and other texts as well. My students don't do that. If the answer is not obvious, they get frustrated because their imaginations do not work that way.
Tomorrow, I will have about 8 students who are designated for remediation. I will have to remediate about 15 more before I am finished. I will report on how it went.