Study Guide

Field 117: U S History/Oklahoma History/Government/Economics 
Sample Constructed-Response Assignment

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Test Directions for the Constructed-Response Assignment

This section of the test consists of one constructed-response assignment. You are to prepare a written response of approximately 300600 words on the assigned topic. You should use your time to plan, write, review, and edit your response to the assignment.

Read the assignment carefully before you begin to write. Think about how you will organize your response.

As a whole, your response must demonstrate an understanding of the knowledge and skills of the field. In your response to the assignment, you are expected to demonstrate the depth of your understanding of the content area through your ability to apply your knowledge and skills rather than merely to recite factual information.

Your response to the assignment will be evaluated on the basis of the following criteria:

 start bold PURPOSE: end bold  the extent to which the response achieves the purpose of the assignment
 start bold SUBJECT MATTER KNOWLEDGE: end bold  accuracy and appropriateness in the application of subject matter knowledge
 start bold SUPPORT: end bold  quality and relevance of supporting details
 start bold RATIONALE: end bold  soundness of argument and degree of understanding of the subject matter

The constructed-response assignment is intended to assess subject matter knowledge and skills, not writing ability. However, your response must be communicated clearly enough to permit valid judgment of the scoring criteria. Your response should be written for an audience of educators in this field. The final version of your response should conform to the conventions of edited American English. Your written response must be your original work, written in your own words, and not copied or paraphrased from some other work.

Be sure to write about the assigned topic. You may not use any reference materials during the test. Remember to review what you have written and make any changes you think will improve your response.

Sample Constructed-Response Assignment

Competency 0018 
Apply pedagogical content knowledge to design developmentally appropriate instruction to help students achieve a specific, standards-based learning goal in social studies.

 start bold Use the information in the exhibits to complete the assignment that follows. end bold 

Using your knowledge of content and sound pedagogical practices in social studies and citing evidence from the exhibits provided, write a response of approximately 300–600 words in which you:

Exhibit 1: Scenario

A high school U S History class has begun a unit on U S participation in World War I. In the first part of the unit, students analyzed the origins of the war and the factors leading to American involvement. The teacher now wants to use excerpts from President Woodrow Wilson's speech before Congress seeking a declaration of war and Senator George Norris's response to explore arguments made at the time in support of and opposition to American entry into the war.

Exhibit 2: Oklahoma Practice Standard and Learning Objective

Oklahoma Practice Standard 3.A.9-12.7: Analyze complex and interacting factors that influence multiple perspectives during different historical eras or contemporary events.

Learning Objective: Summarize the transformation of the United States from a position of neutrality to engagement in World War I.

Exhibit 3: Excerpts from Primary Documents

Document A: From Woodrow Wilson's Speech to Congress (April 2, 19 17)

The new policy [of the Imperial German Government] has swept every restriction aside. Vessels of every kind, whatever their flag, their character, their cargo, their destination, their errand, have been ruthlessly sent to the bottom without warning and without thought of help or mercy for those on board, the vessels of friendly neutrals along with those of belligerents. The present German submarine warfare against commerce is a warfare against mankind. It is a war against all nations.

Our object now … is to vindicate the principles of peace and justice in the life of the world as against selfish and autocratic power and to set up amongst the really free and self-governed peoples of the world such a concert of purpose and of action as will henceforth ensure the observance of those principles. Neutrality is no longer feasible or desirable where the peace of the world is involved and the freedom of its peoples, and the menace to that peace and freedom lies in the existence of autocratic governments backed by organized force which is controlled wholly by their will, not by the will of their people.

The world must be made safe for democracy. We have no selfish ends to serve. We desire no conquest, no dominion. We seek no indemnities for ourselves, no material compensation for the sacrifices we shall freely make. We are but one of the champions of the rights of mankind. We shall be satisfied when those rights have been made as secure as the faith and the freedom of nations can make them.

Document B: From Senator George W. Norris' Speech to Congress (April 4, 19 17)

The resolution now before the Senate is a declaration of war. Before taking this momentous step, and while standing on the brink of this terrible vortex, we ought to pause and calmly and judiciously consider the terrible consequences of the step we are about to take. We ought to consider likewise the route we have recently traveled and ascertain whether we have reached our present position in a way that is compatible with the neutral position which we claimed to occupy at the beginning and through the various stages of this unholy and unrighteous war.

To my mind, what we ought to have maintained from the beginning was the strictest neutrality. If we had done this I do not believe we would have been on the verge of war at the present time.

We have loaned many hundreds of millions of dollars to the allies in this controversy. [A] large number of the great newspapers and news agencies of the country have been controlled and enlisted in the greatest propaganda that the world has ever known, to manufacture sentiment in favor of war. It is now demanded that the American citizens shall be used as insurance policies to guarantee the safe delivery of munitions of war to belligerent nations. The enormous profits of munition manufacturers, stockbrokers, and bond dealers must be still further increased by our entrance into the war. This has brought us to the present moment, when Congress, urged by the President and backed by the artificial sentiment, is about to declare war and engulf our country in the greatest holocaust that the world has ever known.

Sample Strong Response to the Constructed-Response Assignment

 start bold Please note: The sample response provided below is for review purposes only and should not be used in a response on an operational exam. Use of the exact words and phrases presented in this sample response will result in a score of "U" (Unscorable) due to lack of original work. end bold 

I would design a learning activity that incorporates small cooperative groups culminating in a final debate in order to help students realize the learning objective: "Summarize the transformation of the United States from a position of neutrality to engagement in World War I."

First, I would place students in small cooperative groups. I would assign each group to be "for" or "against" U S entry into WWI. The students would first evaluate the given documents and then use those documents to develop an argument for or against U S involvement in WWI. I would then give the groups time to discuss their approach using each excerpt to develop reference points for their arguments. To help solidify each viewpoint, I would consider providing more source material such as other speeches, quotes, images, or news articles for the students to review regarding each viewpoint.

Second, after each side had a chance to discuss among their small group the documents, the groups would come up with a structured plan for their debate. I would model how the debate would proceed and students would argue their own side in class using an organized respectful debate format. At the end of the debate, the class would vote on which side "won" which side presented the best historical arguments. I would also give students a quick anonymous survey where students would state which side they would've been on and why. The presentation of the debates and class voting would help solidify this experience and help students understand both the arguments for and against entrance into WWI.

There is a lot of background information that students would need to understand in order to place the excerpts in the proper historical context. First of all, the students would need to know who each person was (i.e., Woodrow Wilson was president of the United States during WWI while George Norris was a U S Senator during). Students would further need to understand the importance of the positions these two men held within the political landscape and why their statements were so valuable to the American people at the time. Furthermore, students would need to consider the dates of the excerpts. The dates give context the students can use. Students would benefit from understanding other events that occurred directly prior to April 19 17 and how those events might have contributed to public sentiment about the war. An effective way to do this would be to provide a visual representation or a timeline for the class to review. Events I would include on the timeline would be the Zimmerman Telegram, the recent German U-boat torpedoing of a U S ship, and the news of the Armenian massacres. Additionally, as mentioned above in the description of the activity, students should be provided other quotes or speeches from both opponents and supporters of U S involvement in WWI. Other options for source documents students may need for this objective might include news articles or political cartoons published near this time. This background information should be taught prior to the learning activity above. By reviewing the background information, students will be in a better position to fully understand the two excerpts.

Lastly, students often face challenges when attempting to make sense of primary source documents. Sometimes the vocabulary and historical language used in the past can be confusing for students as well as the possibility of misconstruing the facts surrounding the source. In this exercise, I hope that students will gain more understanding of what they are reading through discussing the material with their peers as well as through the information and opinions presented in the debates.

In order to address this challenge, I would provide students with a list of key terms (i.e., belligerents, autocratic, feasible, indemnities, vortex, judiciously, and munitions) that they would need to know while reading the documents together. By providing additional primary source documents from this time period and looking further at the events leading up to WWI, students will be able to develop a deeper understanding of this particular Oklahoma Academic Standard. Students will review multiple quotes, images, and other primary source documents with their group before even entering the debate portion of the learning activity. After the debate, the survey will allow them to express what they think, show understanding of the documents, as well as think critically about which side they would have found themselves on in April 19 17. These strategies working in tandem would support students to help them better understand the documents and this time era in American history.

Rationale for the Sample Strong Response

Please note that the response is evaluated based upon the four performance characteristics of Purpose, Subject Matter Knowledge, Support, and Rationale. Please also note how the score point descriptions are based upon how the examinee attends to the performance characteristics. You should be very familiar with the CEOE performance characteristics and score scale and refer to them when reviewing this rationale.

The response fulfills the purpose of the assignment by adequately addressing all bullets of the assignment. The response provides a learning activity that utilizes the documents to achieve the learning objective (i.e., the U S moving from neutrality to an active participant in WWI), described the background information students may need (i.e., providing a timeline of events leading up to April 19 17), identified a potential challenge (i.e., interpreting and understanding historical vocabulary and key ideas), and discussed how the challenge might be addressed (i.e., providing a word bank of key ideas/words). The response contains accurate subject matter content by using events in the timeframe of WWI such as the Zimmerman Telegram and shows understanding of the perspectives of U S involvement (i.e., opponents and proponents). The response also uses appropriate pedagogical approaches to address student needs when designing a hands-on activity like the live debate as well as through use of additional visual aids and primary source documents. The writer uses professional language and appropriate terminology (e.g., German U-Boats and the Armenian genocide) to demonstrate a thorough understanding of the U S involvement in WWI. Overall, this response reflects a comprehensive understanding of sound pedagogical practices in this content area.

Sample Weak Response to the Constructed-Response Assignment

To give my students a better understanding of the two documents, I would provide them with detailed graphic organizers for while they are working in their study group. The students will fill out their graphic organizers together in a group during the reading and discussing the excerpts part of the lesson. After they fill out the graphic organizers, they will be able to better write about the differing perspectives of the time. Watching a short video documentary on the U S involvement in the war would also probably help students. Videos can be more engaging than just lectures and class or group discussions.

Students have already been learning about WWI a little bit in this unit. According to exhibit two of the prompt, they have now been learning about the origins of the war and factors that lead to U S involvement in the war. This means they have some foundational understanding of the historical context. I would like them to look into more about the two men who made these quotes. They probably can understand a bit about President Woodrow Wilson but likely not about his personal politics. Students are unlikely to know much at all about Senator George Norris before reading this quote. I think that it would be useful to give students an understanding of who he is and his personal politics as well. To do this type of research, I would give them short, one-page biographies of each man to review.

Students still face challenges when reading information like these arguments. One thing that they might find challenging is understanding what is meant by it. I think that I might ask two of my strongest readers in the class to read each one aloud for the whole class. If they read it with expression, some of the students who are struggling to understand the main idea will probably begin to understand more about what was meant by each man's speech. This will be almost like acting them out if possible so that the students can see the reasons behind each speaker's words.

Rationale for the Sample Weak Response

Please note that the response is evaluated based upon the four performance characteristics of Purpose, Subject Matter Knowledge, Support, and Rationale. Please also note how the score point descriptions are based upon how the examinee attends to the performance characteristics. You should be very familiar with the CEOE performance characteristics and score scale and refer to them when reviewing this rationale.

The purpose of this assignment is only partially achieved. The writer has addressed all bullets of the prompt; however, the response is limited in some areas, demonstrating a partial understanding of the pedagogy involved in teaching this topic. The writer has outlined a learning activity but given very little in details as to what this activity might look like and how it might support student learning. It is clear that the graphic organizer is offered to support the students but what this graphic organizer has on it (e.g., information or guides provided by teacher) and what students will fill in is not specifically outlined by the candidate. Additionally, providing more information about the two speakers and their background does not seem to be the type of information that will be most helpful to students trying to understand U S involvement in WWI. The writer outlines a possible challenge that seems likely, which is that students may not understand the quotes very well upon reading. However, the writer offers a read-aloud as a way to address this need, and this seems to only address part of the concerns. It would seem that this strategy ensures that all students hear the words, but not that they comprehend them. Overall, the response provides a limited understanding of the pedagogical practices in this content area.

Performance Characteristics

The following characteristics guide the scoring of responses to the constructed-response assignment.

Characteristics that guide the scoring of responses
Purpose The extent to which the response achieves the purpose of the assignment
Subject Matter Knowledge Accuracy and appropriateness in the application of subject matter knowledge
Support Quality and relevance of supporting details
Rationale Soundness of argument and degree of understanding of the subject matter

Scoring Scale

Scores will be assigned to each response to the constructed-response assignment according to the following scoring scale.

Score Scale with description for each score point.
Score Point Score Point Description
4  start bold The "4" response reflects a thorough knowledge and understanding of the subject matter. end bold 
  • The purpose of the assignment is fully achieved.
  • There is a substantial, accurate, and appropriate application of subject matter knowledge.
  • The supporting evidence is sound; there are high-quality, relevant examples.
  • The response reflects an ably reasoned, comprehensive understanding of the topic.
3  start bold The "3" response reflects a general knowledge and understanding of the subject matter. end bold 
  • The purpose of the assignment is largely achieved.
  • There is a generally accurate and appropriate application of subject matter knowledge.
  • The supporting evidence generally supports the discussion; there are some relevant examples.
  • The response reflects a general understanding of the topic.
2  start bold The "2" response reflects a partial knowledge and understanding of the subject matter. end bold 
  • The purpose of the assignment is partially achieved.
  • There is a limited, possibly inaccurate or inappropriate application of subject matter knowledge.
  • The supporting evidence is limited; there are few relevant examples.
  • The response reflects a limited, poorly reasoned understanding of the topic.
1  start bold The "1" response reflects little or no knowledge and understanding of the subject matter. end bold 
  • The purpose of the assignment is not achieved.
  • There is little or no appropriate or accurate application of subject matter knowledge.
  • The supporting evidence, if present, is weak; there are few or no relevant examples.
  • The response reflects little or no reasoning about or understanding of the topic.
U The response is unscorable because it is illegible, not written to the assigned topic, written in a language other than English, or lacking a sufficient amount of original work to score.
B There is no response to the assignment.