Feb. 15, 2014
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KISS Grammar
Level 6.9 Assessment Quizzes



     The initial idea for assessment quizzes was to have a set of ten tests that could be used at the beginning or the end of each grade level. Further thought suggested a problem. Not all students will be beginning or progressing through KISS at the same grade levels. Thus, the assessment quizzes should probably be revised to match the new organization of the grade-level books -- quizzes for each KISS Level at each grade level. Developing those will take some time, and before I start I want to be sure that the basic format of the levels works well. Meanwhile, the quizzes in this section suggest what can be done. 


      Assessment is, unfortunately, a touchy question. The National Council of Teachers of English abhors any content-based standards, and, as a result, any standards at all. State Boards of Education are just as bad. They produce almost impenetrable volumes of mush, but I have yet to see a state standards document that even requires students to be able to identify subjects and verbs in sentences written by their peers. The results of this are harmful, especially for public school teachers. They are expected to improve students' ability to read and write, but with no clearly identifiable standards for the students to meet, the students cannot be held responsible for learning anything.
     An objective of KISS is to suggest a set of standards for grammar, but for the present, those standards cannot be clearly identified with any specific grade level. If, for example, students begin KISS in second grade, by the end of fourth grade they could be expected to be able to identify the clause structure of sentences that included simple adverbial, adjectival, and noun clauses. But if students begin KISS in fourth grade, this would be an unreasonable expectation. As developed on this site, KISS does begin in second grade, and by the end of seventh, students could be expected to be able to explain how any word in any sentence chunks to a main-clause S/V/C pattern. The quizzes in this section are therefore set up for these objectives.
     Parents who are home-schooling really will not need these assessment quizzes. Working so closely with their children, they will know what their children do and do not understand. For classroom teachers, of course, the situation is very different. Assessment quizzes can be used at the beginning of the year to enable teachers to see what their new students, individually and as a group, do and do not know. At the end of the year, assessment quizzes could become part of official assessment. There are at least three different skills that should be assessed within the KISS framework.

1. Writing

     In a writing quiz, students are asked to write sentences that include specific types of constructions and to underline those constructions. In this type of quiz, point values depend on the number of constructions that students are expected to write. The following is a writing assessment quiz for KISS Level Three:

Directions. For each of the following, write a sentence that contains the indicated construction, and underline that construction in your sentence. (10 each)
1.) a predicate noun
2.) a prepositional phrase that functions as an adverb
3.) a prepositional phrase that functions as an adjective
4.) a compound subject
5.) compound main clauses
6.) a noun clause that functions as a direct object
7.) a noun clause that functions as a subject
8.) an adverbial clause
9.) an adjectival clause
10. a subordinate clause within a subordinate clause

"Writing" quizzes are important for checking to see that students can recognize and consciously produce specific constructions, but they will not fully reveal the students' ability to untangle the complicated sentences that students will find in their reading--or themselves write. To check for this, KISS offers a specific format for "Analysis Quizzes."

2. Analysis Quizzes

     Like most of the KISS identification exercises, "Analysis" quizzes are based on a short text. The format, however, differs such that specific point values can be assigned to different parts of the text. The sentences in the text should be numbered, and the students should be given the text in a format (double-spaced) such that they can analyze the text (parentheses, etc.) as they normally would. In this format, the questions are divided into two sections.
     The directions for the first section are:

I. Indicate the S/V/C pattern(s) of the main clause(s) in each sentence and the words or constructions that fill the slots in those patterns.  (xx each)
(See the quiz based on a quotation from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar for an example.) (At this point, you might also want to look at the "Analysis Key" for this quiz.) 
    The directions for the second section are:
II. Explain how each of the following words is related to its basic pattern. Once you name a word that you have already explained, you should stop. (x each)
In creating these quizzes, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Note, for example, that in making the Julius Caesar quiz, I asked for "huge." In the key for this quiz, I noted that I would expect students to tell me that "huge" is an adjective to "legs," that "legs" is the object of the preposition "under" and that the prepositional phrase functions as an adverb to "walk." Students should have given me "walk" in the first section of the quiz, and thus they would here not only have explained "huge," but also the prepositional phrase and the connection to the main pattern.
     The words in this section of the quiz should be sequenced such that they move outward from the main S/V/C pattern. Thus the Caesar quiz asks for "ourselves" and then "dishonorable." In explaining "ourselves," students should connect it to the infinitive (verbal) "to find," and then explain how the infinitive connects to the basic pattern. Then, in explaining "dishonorable," students need only connect it to "to find." (Note, by the way, that I would not expect students to use complete sentences, or even complete words, in their explanations.)
     Another thing to note about this type of quiz is that some constructions can be avoided. Thus I did not include "men" in the Caesar quiz because I would not expect students at Level Three to recognize the somewhat unusual appositive. In adapting the quizzes, or in creating your own, you may want to provide some words--with their explanation. Thus "find" could have been added to the list, with its explanation --
find -- infinitive (verbal) that functions as an adverb to "walk" and "peep"
By providing this connection, you could still fairly ask students to explain "ourselves" and "dishonorable."
     A final note regards the "keys." Throughout this explanation, for example, I have referred to "find" as an "infinitive (verbal)." If you are familiar with the KISS Approach, you know that although it provides a fairly clear sequence of instruction, it also allows teachers a wide range of how and when to introduce different constructions. If you are teaching fifth graders to identify verbals, but not specifically infinitives, then you obviously should expect students to use "verbal" in their explanation. On the other hand, if they have been taught to identify infinitives, then you should expect "infinitive." 

3. Testing for Procedures and Definitions

      More than twenty years of teaching with the KISS Approach have convinced me that most students major problem is that they refuse to memorize the relatively few, but extremely important procedures and definitions. Students often complain, for example, that they cannot understand complements. But when I ask them to give me the sequence for distinguishing complements, they cannot do so. That procedure is relatively simple: If the complement describes the subject, it is a predicate adjective. If it equals the subject (and the verb in any way means "equals), the complement is a predicate noun. If the complement indicates to or for whom something is done, the complement is an indirect object. Any other complement has to be a direct object. 
     Similarly, students can rarely, if ever, untangle a multi-clause sentence without knowing that a clause is "a subject / (finite) verb / complement pattern and all the words that chunk to it." If our objective is to enable students to analyze sentences so that they can intelligently discuss them, then we need to reinforce the procedures and definitions that students need to know. Including them on assessment quizzes not only does that, in many cases it also clearly lets us know why and where students are having problems.

A Combined Assessment Format

     It should be obvious, but I'll mention it anyway. The three things discussed above can be combined into one assessment quiz.

     A green background in the left column indicates that the quiz is in the printable version.
KISS Level One
For the "Ideal" First Grade
Lesson 5 from Funk and Wagnall's 1902 Standard First Reader AQAK ToC IG1
Lesson 6 from Funk and Wagnall's 1902 Standard First Reader AQAK ToC IG1
Lesson 17 from Funk and Wagnall's 1902 Standard First Reader AQAK ToC IG1
Lesson 18 from Funk and Wagnall's 1902 Standard First Reader AQAK ToC IG1
Lesson 21 from Funk and Wagnall's 1902 Standard First Reader AQAK ToC IG1
Lesson 22 from Funk and Wagnall's 1902 Standard First Reader AQAK ToC IG1
Lesson 33 from Funk and Wagnall's 1902 Standard First Reader AQAK ToC IG1
Lesson 41 from Funk and Wagnall's 1902 Standard First Reader AQAK ToC IG1
Lesson 45 from Funk and Wagnall's 1902 Standard First Reader AQAK ToC IG1
For the "Ideal" Second Grade
Lesson 60 from Funk and Wagnall's 1902 Standard First Reader AQAK ToC IG2
For Second Grade
From The Elson Readers Primer Notes
From "Bobbie and the Apples," by Kate Whiting Patch AK Text
From "Alice and Her Mother," (Folk Tale) AK Text
From Bunny Rabbit's Diary, by Mary Frances Blaisdell Notes
Assessment Quiz # 1 Based on Bunny Rabbit's Diary AK
Assessment Quiz # 2 Based on Bunny Rabbit's Diary AK
From The Children's Own Readers - Book Three
by Mary E. Pennell and Alice M. Cusack 
"The Wise Jackal" - A Tale from India AK Text  
"Manuel and Rita - Earning a Holiday" AK Text  
"Manuel and Rita - The Holiday" AK Text  
From McGuffey's Second Reader ToC
"Susie Sunbeam,"  AK Text
Text "Why the Evergreen Trees Never Lose their Leaves" from
The Book of Nature Myths by Florence Holbrook
Assessment Quiz # 1 AK
Assessment Quiz # 2 AK
Looking Ahead AK
KISS Level Two
For Third Grade
"The Story of the First Butterflies," by Florence Holbrook AK Text ToC
For Fourth Grade
From the Writing of Fourth Graders AK ToC
Bonnie Blue Bell AK ToC
KISS Level Three
For Fifth Grade
KISS Level Four
For Sixth Grade
Julius Caesar (1.2.136-42) AQ AK AK ToC
KISS Level Five
For Seventh Grade
From "In Kropfsberg Keep" by R. A.  Cram AQAK AK ToC
From Bertrand Russell AQAK AK ToC
For Eleventh Grade
# 1 - From a College Freshman's Essay AK ToC IG12
This one is difficult.
# 2 - From a College Freshman's Essay AK ToC -