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Teaching and Learning

Home  >  Teaching and Learning  >  Reading Workbooks  >  Middle School
Text Interpretation Exercise
By Lauri Packebush

Used with Gifted and Talented Middle School Students

Creating Assignments for Gifted and Talented Students
Because the attainment of higher level thinking skills is an essential focus in any gifted program, I expect my students to create products that are creative and perhaps even abstract. These products should represent more than just acquisition of new knowledge; they should represent a genuine application of synthesis and analysis.

I do a lot of thinking about my students when preparing assignments. I try to understand and provide for their individual uniqueness and the burdens that are often placed on gifted students, socially, emotionally, and academically. I try to offer them choices that will give students the opportunity to pursue in-depth areas of special interest and to provide them with a productive means of demonstrating their abilities. I want to encourage their desire to find unique approaches or alternatives to their assignments.

To add to all this, I now have the task of incorporating State and local standards into my planning. Text interpretation is a big item on the 8th grade Benchmark Exam. My students must be able to demonstrate and comprehend meaning from written text by applying a variety of strategies.

The Comic Strip Exercise
One successful way I have found to meet these standards is to have students make comic strips out of text from novels they have read.

Two novels I use with my Gifted and Talented Eighth Grade Language Arts students are Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card, and Watership Down, by Richard Adams. I made up a tic-tac-toe menu of nine different text interpretation assignments, of which, students selected three that would demonstrate their in-depth understanding of the novel they had just read. One of the menu choices is for students to take part of the text and then re-write and illustrate it into a Sunday comic. This is a popular choice for students who are naturally drawn into both the visual and literal realms at once, making the text more understandable with illustration.

Grading Rubric
The comic strip exercises are graded on this simple rubric, based on a fifty-point scale.

1. Text Representation (30 points)

  • Use of words, pictures, and phrases that best portray the text analysis

2. Neatness and Organization (20 points)

  • Clearly written (mechanics and punctuation)
  • Detail and color
  • Understandable
View Student Examples

Fiona Rose Worcester’s version of Ender’s Game
Megan Rulien’s version of Ender’s Game
Rachel Mannheimer’s version of Watership Down

About the Author: Lauri Packebush teaches at Romig Middle School in Anchorage, AK.

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