Assessing Intermediate Grade Literature Logs
by Martha Hitzel
Meaningful assessment in a diverse learning environment can
be challenging, especially for newer teachers. In December of
2001, Martha Hitzel posted on the national multiage
listserve a description and rubric showing how she assesses
children's reading comprehension. It is an excellent example
of using assessment as an integral part of reading instruction.
With her permission I have reposted it here.
I am a second year teacher, new to the intermediate grades,
as well as to teaching in a multiage classroom. Last year, I
taught third grade. Much of my reading instruction was based
on teaching the reading comprehension strategies I had read and
learned about in Mosaic of Thought, by Ellin Oliver Keene
and Susan Zimmermann. Most of my evaluation was based on observation
during class discussions and on individual or small group conferences.
My main record keeping was anecdotal notes.
My goal this year with my 4/5 multiage class was to implement
literature circles and journal response. The main source that
I used in planning how to get started was Literature Circles
and Response, by Hill/Johnson/Noe. To initiate literature
circles, I used a whole class novel, Night of the Twisters,
by Ivy Ruckman. It was one of the books suggested in Literature
Circles and Response and fit well with our first science
unit, Natural Disasters. I gave the students a list of possible
ways of responding to the reading section which they pasted inside
the front cover of their journal. I also gave them a copy of
the Literature Log Grading Rubric
printed on card stock. They kept this, along with their book,
in a large zip-lock bag. I wrote the rubric based on the comprehension
strategies that I wanted to see my students developing and implementing.
I didn't score the first few journal responses but instead wrote
notes in the journals to the students addressing the positive
things I had noted about their response, possibly asking a question
to try and extend their thinking, and a suggestion for what they
could do to improve their next entry.
After the first three or four entries, I began to score the
student responses. During class discussions students would occasionally,
voluntarily share entries and the score they received. This isn't
necessarily what I think is best but I found that many of the
students seemed completely comfortable sharing their score, even
those that had received a 2. It did allow some discussion about
what made a good entry and what could be done to improve others.
With this being my first year working with this system, I don't
have copies of journal entries from previous, anonymous students
to use for this type of discussion. I also began having students
score their own entries. I did this with the hope of having them
use the rubric more as they completed their response. Most of
the time they were very accurate in their evaluation. If there
was a discrepancy between their score and mine we were able to
sit together and discuss it.
Generally, I was pleased with the student responses and did
see growth over the course of the novel. One problem I encountered
was that it took too long to get through the story. Our routine
was to read a chapter and respond on Mondays and Thursdays and
meet and discuss on Tuesdays and Fridays. Wednesday we do current
events. This pace allowed the slower readers to keep up but frustrated
my more proficient readers, especially during the height of the
action. I also believe, in retrospect, that responding to every
chapter was too much. Instead of being enjoyable and enhancing
their reading of the story, responding had become an assignment
to be done.
After we completed this novel we took a break and did a Tall
Tale Unit with different types of response. Following the winter
break, I plan to spend about two weeks using picture books to
review the comprehension strategies and then begin literature
circles again. This time, the students will have choice in the
book they read, and will have a voice in setting up the reading,
responding, and meeting schedule for their group. I will continue
to use the grading rubric to score their entries.
Literature Log Grading Rubric
Score 4 Points
- My response shows I understand what is happening in the story
- I use more than one example or piece of information from
the story in my response.
- I ask questions that show I am thinking deeply about the
- I make predictions based on information from the story or
from something similar that has happened to me.
- I make clear and understandable connections between the story
and things that have happened in my own life or in another story
I have read.
Score 3 Points
- My response shows that I understand what is happening in
the story very well. There may be a part that I don't completely
- I use one example or piece of information from the story
in my response.
- I ask a question that shows I am thinking about what is happening
in the story and why it is happening.
- I make a prediction that uses information from the story
or from something similar that has happened to me.
- I make connections between the story and something that has
happened to me in my own life but I may not express it very clearly.
Score 2 Points
- My response shows that my understanding of the story is incomplete.
There are several things that are confusing to me.
- I try to include some information or an example from the
story but it is hard to understand why I included the information
in my response.
- I ask a basic question that is answered clearly in the story.
- I make a prediction, but I don't give any reason for why
I think it will happen.
- I write about something that has happened to me but I don't
connect it to what is happening in the story.
Score 1 Point
- My response shows that I didn't understand the story at all.
- I don't include any information or example from the story.
- I don't ask any questions or make any predictions.
- I don't connect the story to my own life at all.