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Study Guide

Field 231: Multi-Subject: Teachers of Middle Childhood
(Grade 5–Grade 9)
Part One: Literacy and English Language Arts

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Sample Selected-Response Questions

Competency 0001
Knowledge of Literacy and Language Arts

1. Use "Man with a Hoe," a painting by Jean-François Millet, and the excerpt below from "The Man with the Hoe," a poem by Edwin Markham, to answer the question that follows.

Man in the foreground hunched over a farming tool on rough, dry terrain in the background. It is not clear what emotions he is feeling.

Jean-François Millet, "Man with a Hoe"1

Bowed by the weight of centuries he leans
Upon his hoe and gazes on the ground,
The emptiness of ages in his face,
And on his back the burden of the world.
Who made him dead to rapture and despair,
A thing that grieves not and that never hopes,
Stolid and stunned, a brother to the ox?
Who loosened and let down this brutal jaw?
Whose was the hand that slanted back this brow?
Whose breath blew out the light within this brain?
Is this the Thing the Lord God made and gave
To have dominion over sea and land;
To trace the stars and search the heavens for power;
To feel the passion of Eternity?
Is this the dream He dreamed who shaped the suns
And marked their ways upon the ancient deep?

—From "The Man with the Hoe" by Edwin Markham

In the excerpt, the theme conveyed by the lines "Who made him dead to rapture and despair, / A thing that grieves not and that never hopes, / Stolid and stunned, a brother to the ox?" best reflects which element of the painting?

  1. the contrast between the dark foreground and light background
  2. the realistic depiction of a rural landscape
  3. the textures of the wooden hoe, tilled soil, and rustic clothing
  4. the subject's expressionless facial features
Enter to expand or collapse answer. Answer expanded
Correct Response: D. This question requires the examinee to apply knowledge of effective viewing to analyze information and ideas in diverse media or formats. The quoted lines from the poem focus on the dehumanizing effects of tedious, physically draining labor. The subject of the painting hunches over a rudimentary farm implement, his mouth agape, his eyes staring blankly. The indistinctness of his facial features and the absence of any clear outward expression suggest that he is incapable of experiencing strong emotions such as rapture, despair, grief, and hope. He resembles a beast of burden more than a human.

Competency 0002
Instruction in Foundational Literacy Skills

2. A seventh-grade teacher regularly includes oral language and writing activities (e.g., small-group collaborative discussions, text-centered writing) as an integral part of literacy development in content-area reading. Which explanation provides the best rationale for the teacher's approach?

  1. Offering students a range of content-related activities in different language modalities promotes their active engagement and motivation for reading to learn.
  2. Students who struggle to engage with new content knowledge in one language modality should be provided with access to texts in another modality.
  3. Exercising expressive language modalities contributes more to students' continuing academic growth than exercising receptive language modalities.
  4. Actively constructing meaning in texts using multiple language modalities deepens students' understanding of new vocabulary and academic concepts.
Enter to expand or collapse answer. Answer expanded
Correct Response: D. This question requires the examinee to demonstrate understanding of how providing students with a broad range of academic experiences in reading, writing, listening, and speaking promotes their development of robust vocabularies, including understanding of the importance of incremental, repeated exposures to words in different contexts and opportunities to use new vocabulary in a variety of modalities. In the instructional practice described, students engage with new content area learning using a variety of language modalities, including reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Research has shown that multiple exposures to new words in a variety of meaningful contexts and modalities deepen a student's understanding of the words, i.e., promotes their development of comprehensive knowledge about the words, which is required to make the words part of a learner's working vocabulary.

Competency 0003
Instruction in English Language Arts

3. After students in an eighth-grade English language arts class independently read a short passage from an informational text, the teacher checks their comprehension by asking questions about the passage. After a student answers a question, the teacher asks other students to say whether they agree or disagree with the student's answer. According to research, which additional instructional approach would be most appropriate for the teacher to use to promote the students' development of skills for integrating knowledge and ideas from the passage?

  1. asking the students whether they have any questions about the information and ideas presented in the passage
  2. having each student take a position based on evidence in the passage and defend the position to another student or a small group
  3. assigning a new passage for students to read and having them write comprehension questions about the passage for homework
  4. providing an outline of key ideas and supporting details in the passage and having students write a summary based on the outline
Enter to expand or collapse answer. Answer expanded
Correct Response: B. This question requires the examinee to apply knowledge of developmentally appropriate, research- and evidence-based instructional practices to promote students' development of skills for integrating, analyzing, and evaluating knowledge and ideas from informational text. Having eighth-grade students focus on a specific issue and providing them with evidence to use to support a position provide an opportunity for active learning. Research has shown that active learning promotes development of essential skills such as critical thinking and problem solving. In addition, this student-centered activity requires students to engage with a text in a way that will deepen students' understanding of the ideas and information presented in the text.


1 Millet, Jean-François. Man with a Hoe. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.