Essay Assignment and Rubric
Writing an essay of response.
The essay should be at least six paragraphs in length and include details from the novel to support your response. Keep the following focus in mind as you respond to When I Was Puerto Rican.
What does the work mean to you? Consider your own intellectual and moral reactions to the text.
What particular aspects of my life can help me understand and appreciate the work?
How can this work improve my understanding and widen my insights?
How can my increased understanding and my connection to the work help me understand it more deeply?
While most assignments in preparation for the AP exam are holistically graded, a brief and simple rubric is provided for use in other high school classes.
Criteria Points Possible Points Earned Does the essay have a clear introduction, body and conclusion?
20 pts. Are the paragraphs sufficient length – including details and effective explanation of ideas?
20 pts. Does the essay include accurate details and connections that make sense in relation to the novel?
20 pts. Is the essay edited for clarity of ideas, fluency and organization?
Is the essay edited for grammar and mechanics?
Total Score 100 pts.
Students can work in small groups to analyze specific rhetorical strategies in the novel. In an AP class, students would be expected to make a formal presentation to the class that includes handouts and a class discussion. This portion of the unit may take as long as two weeks but can be completed while students are reading. An AP class would be expected to finish the novel is just over one week. Two to three additional days would be provided for students to organize presentations. Presentations should last only 5-10 minutes and can be completed in less than one week.
Some Topics for Rhetorical Analysis:
The author’s use of dialogue.
Examine the inclusion of specific dialogues that took place between Negi’s parents. Why do you think the author selected these examples?
The novel begins with the introduction of a metaphor – the guava fruit.
The author’s use of language to describe a “state of being.”
How does the author explain “states of being” such as fear, aimlessness, anxiety?
The organization of the novel. (framed by a flashback)
Why did the author choose to start the novel in the present day? As you read, were there times when you were reminded that the novel is a flashback or memoir? What purpose does this serve? Does the ending effectively frame the story?
The author’s use and explanation of Spanish terms.
Examine the author’s use of Spanish terms in the novel. What is the purpose of this element of the novel? What was its effect upon the reader? How did the inclusion of these terms aid the reader’s understanding?
Examples of description and its appeal to the senses.
How many of the narrator’s descriptions appealed to the reader’s sense? Explain.
The author’s tone.
What is the author’s overall tone of the novel? Does her tone change in certain chapters? How? Why? Explain.
The mood of the novel at various points.
What is the overall mood of the novel? Does it change in certain chapters? How? Why? Explain.
The author’s use of similes.
What types of similes did the narrator use in her descriptions, especially of food? How did the use of similes remind us that we were witnessing experiences through the eyes of a child?