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Study Guide

Field 241: Multi-Subject: Secondary Teachers
(Grade 7–Grade 12)
Part One: Literacy and English Language Arts

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Sample Selected-Response Questions

Competency 0001
Knowledge of Literacy and Language Arts

1. A student is developing an analytical essay on the use of setting in Alice Munro's short story "Boys and Girls." As part of the essay, the student plans to make the claim that the narrator's descriptions of exterior and interior spaces reveal the narrator's ambivalence about entering adulthood. Which excerpt from the story would best support the student's claim?

  1. We were not afraid of outside though this was the time of year when snowdrifts curled around our house like sleeping whales and the wind harassed us all night, coming up from the buried fields, the frozen swamp, with its old bugbear chorus of threats and misery.1
  2. When the light was on, we were safe as long as we did not step off the square of worn carpet which defined our bedroom-space; when the light was off no place was safe but the beds themselves.1
  3. These days our back porch was piled with baskets of peaches and grapes and pears, bought in town, and onions and tomatoes and cucumbers grown at home, all waiting to be made into jelly and jam and preserves, pickles and chili sauce.1
  4. In the kitchen there was a fire in the stove all day, jars clinked in boiling water, sometimes a cheesecloth bag was strung on a pole between two chairs straining blue-black grape pulp for jelly.1
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Correct Response: B. This question requires the examinee to apply knowledge of effective writing to analyze and evaluate a written response to literature. The narrator's description of the "bedroom-space" defined by a "square of worn carpet" reveals the narrator's belief that the familiar world that is visible "when the light was on" is safe. At the same time, the narrator reveals an awareness that the familiar, known world can be limiting, even constricting. The narrator's assertion that “when the light was off no place was safe but the beds themselves" supports the writer's claim that the narrator is frightened by the prospect of entering the unknown, unpredictable future that is adulthood.

Competency 0002
Instruction in Foundational Literacy Skills

2. A teacher reviews a section of a science textbook and selects words for direct vocabulary instruction prior to assigning students the passage to read independently. Which selection criterion would be most effective for the teacher to use for this purpose?

  1. The words are multisyllabic and contain Greek or Latin roots likely to be unfamiliar to students.
  2. The words occur with high frequency in the passage and throughout the text.
  3. The words have both literal and figurative meanings, depending on sentence context.
  4. The words are used to convey or clarify important concepts in the passage.
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Correct Response: D. This question requires the examinee to apply developmentally appropriate, research- and evidence-based instructional practices in word study, including building vocabulary knowledge related to specific texts. The primary purpose for preteaching some words related to a specific reading assignment is supporting students' comprehension and learning as they read. Providing instruction in those words used to convey important concepts in the passage before students begin reading directly supports their comprehension of main ideas and key details in the text and may further provide students with sufficient background knowledge to learn in context the meaning of other new words they encounter in the passage.

Competency 0003
Instruction in English Language Arts

3. A teacher would like to promote students' understanding of Sinclair Lewis's 1920 novel Main Street. During a class discussion, the teacher plans to ask students questions that progress from the lower to higher levels of Bloom's taxonomy. Which series of questions would be most appropriate for the teacher to use for this purpose?

    1. In what ways does the town of Gopher Prairie in Main Street resemble the town where we live?
    2. How do you think Sinclair Lewis would describe the town where we live?
    3. Why do you think Sinclair Lewis chose the title Main Street for the novel?
    1. How do historical events influence characters' lives in the novel?
    2. What do the main characters' professions reveal about their values?
    3. Why do the residents of the town of Gopher Prairie resist change?
    1. What is the setting of the novel?
    2. How does Sinclair Lewis depict small-town life in the early twentieth century?
    3. How does the depiction of small-town life in Main Street compare with the depiction of small-town life in Thornton Wilder's play Our Town?
    1. How are Carol and Will Kennicott similar to and different from each other?
    2. How does Carol's attitude toward Gopher Prairie change over the course of the novel?
    3. How does being the town doctor affect Will Kennicott's attitude toward Gopher Prairie?
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Correct Response: C. This question requires the examinee to apply knowledge of developmentally appropriate instructional practices to promote students' comprehension and analysis of key ideas and details in literature. Bloom's taxonomy describes six levels of cognitive complexity: observation and recall of information; comprehension of information; application of information, methods, concepts, and theories; analysis of information; synthesis of information and ideas; and evaluation of ideas, theories, arguments, and evidence. When answering the three questions, students would move from the first to fifth levels of Bloom's taxonomy. Answering the teacher's first question ("What is the setting of the novel?") requires recall of basic information from the novel. To answer the teacher's second question ("How does Sinclair Lewis depict small-town life in the early twentieth century?"), students need to comprehend the explicit meaning of the text, and they might also interpret Lewis's language and tone to make inferences about the text's implicit meaning. To answer the teacher's third question ("How does the depiction of small-town life in Main Street compare with the depiction of small-town life in Thornton Wilder's play Our Town?"), students would need to analyze and synthesize information to draw conclusions based on textual evidence.

Acknowledgments

1Munro, Alice. "Boys and Girls" DANCE OF THE HAPPY SHADES: AND OTHER STORIES. McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1968. Copyright © 1968 by Alice Munro.