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31 Huckleberry Finn Assessment Ideas

    Huckleberry Finn Assessment ideas featured

    Assessment can take many forms.  Here are 31 Huckleberry Finn Assessment ideas for your classroom.

    Huckleberry Finn assessment ideas in three types:

    • Culminating Tasks (essays, presentations, and projects that directly assess mastery of  key unit standards)
    • Extension Tasks (activities that connect to the novel but extend to skills like creative writing, performance, or debate)
    • Exam Sections

    Huckleberry Finn Culminating Tasks

    These Huckleberry Finn assessment ideas directly relate to the key standards and goals of a typical Huck Finn unit.

    Connecting Themes Presentation

    RL2: Analyze connecting themes
    RL1: Citing textual evidence

    Twain weaves the plots and themes of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn through each other to create a complex tapestry.  To show your next-level mastery of theme, you will present on how two themes develop together and interact.

    Choose two theme topics that you view as connected in the novel:

    • Freedom
    • Nobility
    • Courage
    • Society
    • Individuality
    • Morality
    • Gullibility
    • Money
    • Friendship
    • Adventure
    • Status
    • Slavery and racism
    • Education
    • Empathy
    • Human nature
    • Performance

    Response to Literature Essay Menu

    RL1: Cite strong textual evidence
    W2: Informational writing

    Choose one essay topic from the list below.  Write a response to literature essay that includes evidence from the text and gives analysis (MLA format).
    Example: Twain writes, “________________________________________” (Twain 67).

    • Character: Tom Sawyer as a Foil
      • Analyze how Twain uses Tom to contrast and highlight Huck’s traits.
    • Craft: Twain’s Use of Humor
      • How does Twain use irony and satire to entertain the reader and make his points.
    • Structure: Stories within Stories
      • What are the effects of the novel’s structure? Think about the novel’s main plots, parallel plots, and episodic subplots.
    • Theme Topic: The Individual and Society
      • What is Twain saying about individualism and the role of social pressure in our lives?  
    • Theme Topic: Performance
      • Is anyone in the novel genuine? What is Twain saying about performance in our lives?
    • Theme Element: Clothing
      • What role does clothing play in the novel and how does it develop Twain’s theme(s)?
    • Theme Element: The River
      • The river is a part of the characters’ everyday lives, but it is also a complex symbol with more than one meaning.

    Huck Finn river symbolism

    Thematic Element Presentation

    RL2: Analyze theme development
    SL5: Use of digital media

    Twain uses different elements (people, places, objects, actions, etc.) in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to help create larger meaning.  For example, the river is important in the characters’ daily lives, but it also has larger symbolic meanings. Create a presentation on how Twain uses one thematic element.

    Choose a thematic element:

    • Superstition
    • Clothing
    • Nature (especially Huck’s poetry)
    • The river
    • Propriety (rules of being proper)
    • The raft
    • Introspection
    • Nobility / breeding
    • Frauds / lying
    • Prayer / religion
    • The island
    • Pranks
    • Romantic notions (especially Tom’s ideas)
    • People as property
    • Violence
    • Performance
    • Social pressure


    Huck’s Point of View Essay

    RL6: Analyze point of view
    RL3: Interacting elements (and the impact of the author’s choices)

    Twain could tell The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from a different point of view, but he decides that young, imperfect Huck, should tell the story. Write an essay to analyze how Twain develops Huck’s point of view and the impact of this choice.

    Include textual evidence and in-text citations (MLA form).

    Example: Huck explains, “It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a n—-; but I done it, and I warn’t ever sorry for it afterward neither” (Twain 86). Huck, unlike Tom, can see Jim as a person worthy of respect and consideration.

    Organizing Your Essay Handout

    Huckleberry Finn assessment ideas point of view

    Huck’s Internal Conflict Essay

    RL3: Complex characters and motivations
    RL1: Citing textual evidence

    How does Twain develop Huck’s main internal conflict?  How does Huck’s internal conflict interact with other elements in the novel?  Think about point of view, themes, other conflicts, and motivations. Use textual evidence in your analysis.  

    Think about these topics as you organize your body paragraphs:

    • Huck’s motivations to turn on Jim
    • Huck’s motivations to abandon Jim
    • Huck’s motivations to help Jim
    • How Huck feels connected to Jim
    • How Huck is disconnected from Jim
    • Analysis of the moment when Huck cannot betray Jim
    • How does this develop point of view?
    • What is the purpose of this conflict?
    • How Huck and Jim relate when they are on the raft
    • How Huck and Jim relate when they are in “sivilization”
    • Points where Huck stops caring about Jim’s quest for freedom
    • Conclusions about Huck’s character
    • What is the effect of this conflict?
    • How the conflict develops a theme

    Body Paragraph Organizer

    Huckleberry Finn unit cover

    Twain’s Satires Essay

    RL6: Point of view (understanding satire, sarcasm, irony, or understatement)
    W2B: Informative/explanatory writing: developing a topic (well-chosen examples)

    “Satire: the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices.”

    Write an essay explaining how Twain uses satire.  Develop your thesis with relevant, well-chosen examples. Organize your essay with an introduction, body, and conclusion. For each satire you highlight, make sure to analyze Twain’s target, treatment, and purpose.  

    Example: The murderers on the steamship decide to leave their tied-up victim to drown rather than shooting him. “See? He’ll be drownded, and won’t have nobody to blame for it but his own self,” explains one killer. The difference means nothing to the victim and is absurd to the reader, but it is important to the killers. Twain satirizes human nature in avoiding guilt. Twain makes the criminals (and humanity in general) look ridiculous in happily accomplishing evil acts while using “logic” to avoid moral responsibility.  

    Choose at least three satires. You might write one detailed paragraph for each.

    • Tom Sawyer (romantic notions)
    • Tom helps Jim escape
    • The Phelps under attack
    • Jim and Huck’s superstitions
    • The Grangerfords
    • Townsfolk in Parkville
    • Arkansans
    • Old Boggs
    • The murderers on the steamship
    • The lynch mob
    • The duke and the king
    • Col. Sherburn
    • Pap Finn
    • Emmeline Grangerford
    • Tom Sawyer’s gang
    • The Judge helps Pap
    • Jim and Huck debate stealing
    • Huck’s prayers
    • Other: _________________________________________________________

    Huckleberry Finn assessment ideas satire

    Analyze One Satire in Huck Finn

    RL6: Point of view (understanding satire, sarcasm, irony, or understatement)
    W2D: Informative/explanatory writing: domain-specific vocabulary
    W2F: Informative/explanatory writing: conclusions

    Each of Twain’s satires in Huck Finn serves a purpose and connects to other elements (like a theme). Choose one satire in Huck Finn and analyze its purpose and how it relates to other elements in the novel.

    • The target and purpose of the satire (who is really being mocked)
    • The treatment of the subject (how Twain makes the target look ridiculous)
    • How the satire develops a theme
    • Key citations where the satire is developed
    • Comparing what is stated to what is really meant (making inferences)
    • How the satire develops a character
    • The tone (author’s attitude toward a subject) of the satire (playful, absurd, morbid, etc.)
    • How the satire fits into the plot
    • How the satire is similar to other satires in the novel
    • How the satire relates to the setting
    • The use of irony

    Analyzing Characterization (Huck Finn) Essay

    RL3: Interacting elements (characterization)
    RL1: Citing and analyzing textual evidence

    How does Twain create Huck Finn as a person in our imaginations and enable us to appreciate this “low-down” character?

    Write an essay analyzing Twain’s characterization of Huck Finn. Explain the author’s choices in creating Huck and how these choices impact the novel: Why does Twain want to make Huck this way? What is Twain’s purpose?

    Topics that could be developed in your essay:

    • How Huck is introduced to the reader
    • How dynamic is Huck? (How does he change throughout the narrative?)
    • How is Huck static? (What about him does not change?)
    • Key moments where the reader gains insight on the character (Each could be a separate paragraph.)
    • Compare Huck to Tom Sawyer.
    • Why is Huck a misfit in his society?
    • How Huck views status
    • Huck’s positive traits
    • Huck’s negative traits
    • How his characterization impacts key themes (especially on racism)
    • How his characterization develops the plot (why he goes on the adventure)
    • Huck’s intelligence
    • Huck’s understanding of people
    • Huck’s caring nature
    • Huck’s desires
    • Huck’s naivete/innocence

    Analyzing Textual Evidence Handout

    Is Huck Finn Overrated? (Debate)

    W1A: Organizing argument
    SL3: Evaluate a speaker’s point of view and reasoning

    For some, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is the ultimate masterpiece of American literature.  For others, it is the most over-rated novel of all time.  Now that you are an expert on the text, you will offer your views and join the debate.

    Resolution: “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is not a masterpiece of literature.”

    Huckleberry Finn assessment ideas debate

    Twain’s Word Choice Essay

    RL4: Word choice
    W2E: Writing informative/explanatory texts with a formal style and objective tone

    We know how to describe a designer’s fashion style or a singer’s musical style, but what do we mean when we say an author’s style?  An author’s style means how they use words to craft the desired effect. Does the author use words to create an absurd and irreverent tone? A somber, reverent tone? An emotional or sentimental tone?

    Write an essay analyzing Twain’s word choices.

    Keep a formal style:

    • Third-person point of view (no I, me, my, etc.)
    • Academic vocabulary (especially Language Arts terms)
    • Professional voice (“aspects” instead of “stuff” or “various” instead of “lots of.”)

    Use an objective tone:

    • Focus on the facts and not your opinions.
    • Avoid subjective judgments. You are not deciding what is good or bad.

    Elements of word choice

    • Figurative language (metaphor, personification, simile, hyperbole, understatement, idiom, etc.)
    • Connotations (the feelings and thoughts associated with particular words; for example, “father” has a different feeling than “daddy”)
    • Sound devices (rhythm, rhyme, onomatopoeia, etc.)
    • Sense of time and place (dialogue, dialect, allusions, and references)
    • Tone (the narrator’s attitude toward the subject – including the level of formality)
    • Mood (how the words create feelings in the reader)

    Interacting Plots Display

    RL5: Analyzing the effects of structure
    SL1B: Exchanging ideas

    Huck Finn’s structure is complex; there are parallel main plots and episodic subplots. There are the main plots (getting to freedom and Huck’s conflict over helping Jim) and a bunch of episodes along the way. Sometimes, even the subplots have little subplots.  

    The class will create a wall display of all of the plots and how they connect.  You will have to explain the effect of this structure.

    Student or group assignments:

    “The Big Picture” (getting to freedom)

    “Huck’s Internal Struggle”

    “The Rise and Fall of Tom’s Gang” “Escape from St. Petersburg”

    “Robbing the Robbers”

    “Saving the Robbers”

    “Lost in the Fog”

    “The Family Feud”

    “Punking Parkville” (Royalty part 1)

    “Tom Directs Jim’s Escape”

    “The Phelps under Attack”

    “Huck in Disguise”

    “The Reverend and the Mute” (Royalty 2)

    “Saving Tom’s Life”

    “A Visitor on Jackson’s Island”

    “The Murder of Old Boggs”

    Analyze an Unfamiliar Symbol

    RL2: Analyzing theme development

    In The Adventures of Huck Finn, the river is a powerful symbol that represents chance, destiny, life, freedom, and individuality.  

    You will read an unfamiliar text in order to analyze a symbol and show what you know.

    Huckleberry Finn unit cover

    Huckleberry Finn Extension Tasks

    These Huckleberry Finn Assessment ideas may not directly assess the key standards of the unit.  They connect to the novel but extend learning into skills and knowledge that are not essential in studying the novel.

    Satire Narrative

    W3: Writing narrative
    W3A: Engage and orient the reader (points of view)

    Write an original narrative that includes satire.  Start by brainstorming a list of behaviors or issues that you think deserve to be mocked. (People who post their meals on social media, idiotic warning labels, politicians who only pretend to care, etc.)

    Target (What is being mocked?)
    Treatment (What represents the target and how will it be ridiculed in the story?)
    Purpose (What point are you trying to make?)
    Plot overview

    • Inciting incident
    • Rising actions
    • Climax
    • Falling actions
    • Resolution
    Points of view (For example, the characters being mocked see the problem as very serious whereas the author/audience thinks they are being ridiculous.)

    Teaching Huckleberry Finn and analyzing satire

    Symbol Narrative

    W3: Narrative writing
    W3E: Reflective conclusion

    The river in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an everyday part of the characters’ lives, but it is also a powerful symbol that represents chance, destiny, life, freedom, and individuality.  Write a story where you use a complex symbol to develop a theme. Include a reflective conclusion from the narrator.

    Jim’s Point of View

    W3A: Narrative elements (point of view)

    Rewrite one part of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from Jim’s point of view.  You must use a first-person point of view and relate Jim’s thoughts and emotions.  You do not need to use dialect. Remember that Jim is often performing (playing dumb for a purpose) in the novel.

    The Lost Episode

    W3: Writing narrative
    W4: Writing with a clear purpose, task, and audience

    A publisher has hired you to write a “lost episode” from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The publisher expects you to please the fans by following the example of the novel in terms of point of view, dialect, word choice (no slurs), satire, and theme. Make sure it is clear where your “lost episode” fits into the original novel.

    Alternate Ending

    W3: Writing narrative
    W3E: Reflective conclusion in narrative

    We learned that many critics dislike the final chapters (starting on Phelps farm) of the novel.  They feel that Huck forgets all that he has learned and that the plot veers into incredible coincidence and childish Tom-foolery.  They want Jim’s emancipation to be triumphant, but since Jim is already free, the journey has been for nothing.

    Write a “better” ending where the plot has a satisfying resolution. Include a reflective conclusion where Huck explains the importance of the adventure.  

    Huck Finn leaves society

    Inspired Poetry

    RL4: Craft and Structure (word choice)
    W10: Range of Writing

    Into: What inspires you to excel? What inspires you to think or reflect? What inspires your creativity and self-expression?

    Through: What inspires Huck Finn? Huck is a poet in his own way.

    1. Student groups find one poetic passage from the novel.
    2. What makes it poetic? What poetic elements does Huck use? What poetic elements are absent?
    3. Students restructure the passage into a poem (lines and stanzas).  The original words, order, or structure can be changed if it enhances the form or effect.  
    4. Share the poetry aloud.  Explain which poetic elements are evident.

    Beyond: Write an original poem about something that inspires you. It does not need to be from your own point of view. Include an afterword that explains your use of poetic elements.

    Choose your key elements:

    • Speaker (who or what is speaking the poem)
    • Structure (how you chose to organize the lines and stanzas)
    • Theme or feeling
    • Figurative language (metaphor, personification, simile, hyperbole, idiom, etc.)
    • Connotations (the feelings and thoughts associated with particular words; for example, “father” has a different feeling than “daddy”)
    • Sound devices (rhythm, rhyme, alliteration, onomatopoeia, etc.)
    • Sense of time and place (dialogue, dialect, allusions, and references)
    • Tone (the narrator’s attitude toward the subject – including the level of formality)
    • Mood (how the words create feelings)

    Realism Narrative

    W3: Writing narrative
    W3B: Narrative techniques (dialogue and description)

    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an example of realism because it includes ordinary people, complex motivations, realistic details, and plain language.  

    Write a short story in the tradition of Realism.  

    Romanticism (1820-1865) Realism (1865 – 1914)
    Highly formal and expressive language (flowery melodramatic, emotional)
    • Plain, straightforward language; the real language of the people (dialect)
    Satisfying endings (usually)
    • Realistic endings
    Setting may be exotic or fantastic
    • Real or realistic places
    Often plot-driven
    • Character-driven
    Author intrusion is common.
    • Author intrusion is uncommon.
    Over-the-top characters (pirates, bandits, heroes, spirits, etc.)
    • Ordinary people characters
    Idealized themes (The good guys are good and the bad guys are bad.)
    • Unclear or ambiguous themes
    Simple character motivations (revenge, honor, love, etc.)
    • Complex character motivations (like real people)
    Plot elements are spectacular, mysterious, or even supernatural
    • Plot events are often ordinary.
    Only essential details to the story
    • Non-essential details to add reality
    Introspection, emotion, and the sublime
    • Social critique (e.g. Why are some people so rich while others are so poor?)

    Writing dialogue in narrative:

    • Use quotation marks and correct punctuation:
      • Julie exclaimed, “I can’t believe you ate the whole thing!”
    • Start a new paragraph (indent) when a new speaker starts speaking:
      • “I did eat the whole thing, and I am glad of it.”
      • “I was saving that for my celebration.”
      • “Well, you did a pretty lousy job.”
      • “I am cancelling our wedding,” said Julie as she closed the door.
    • Identify the speaker when it may be unclear
      • Bill responded, “______!”

    Huckleberry Finn extension tasks romanticism

    Realism vs. Romanticism

    W3: Writing narrative
    W3B: Narrative techniques (developing experiences, events, and/or characters)

    The class will demonstrate understanding of the differences between Romanticism and Realism.  Everyone in the class will write a version of the same narrative plot. However, each student must decide if they will write the story in the form of Romanticism or in the form of Realism.

    Shared plot: A young woman of humble origins wants to advance in the world.  She seeks employment that will allow her to demonstrate her potential and improve her prospects.  She finds what she thinks is the perfect opportunity. However, the dream opportunity turns out to be a nightmare.

    Focus on developing this story in a way that is consistent with your chosen style (your side of the table below).

    Argumentative Essay: Should schools chuck Huck?

    W1: Writing argument
    RI7: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas (multiple sources)

    Should The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn be studied in the classroom? Some feel that the novel is an essential inclusion with historical and thematic importance. Others feel that the book should be dropped from the curriculum due to the inclusion racist views and the n-word (over 200 times).

    What is your opinion? Conduct research to form your conclusion.  Use evidence from your research and the novel to support your claim.

    Source ideas:

    Address counterarguments somewhere within the essay body. Note opposing arguments and offer responses. (E.g. Some claim that _______________, but this does not change the fact that _________________________________.)

    Huckleberry Finn Assessment ideas quote

    Debate: All’s Well that Ends Well?

    W1: Writing argument
    W1: Organizing argument

    Ernest Hemingway had one of his characters state, “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn. If you read it, you must stop where… Jim is stolen from the boys. That is the real end. The rest is just cheating…”

    Literature nerds love to argue about the ending of this novel (everything after the King sells Jim). Now that we are experts on the novel, we will join the debate.

    Each student must decide if the ending is a success or a fail and join a team.

    Resolution: “The ending of Huck Finn is fundamentally flawed and diminishes the novel.”

    Debate Planning Page

    Teacher notes:

    Affirmative: The coincidence of landing on the Phelps’ Farm is just the kind of coincidence Twain objects to in Romanticism. Huck relinquishes the moral standing that he has attained and regresses into meaningless Tom-foolery. Jim’s emancipation is not a triumph but a post-dated technicality. The adventure has meant nothing.

    Negative: Defenders of the ending of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn argue that the dissatisfaction is the point. The episode of freeing Jim, who is already free, is an allegory (and satire) of the reconstruction era. Tom plays the role of the planter class and cannot comprehend the gravity of the injustice he has imposed. Tom’s ideas lead the kindhearted Huck astray. In this allegory, African Americans are free only in a technical sense, and the white establishment is oblivious. In addition, Twain uses the ending to further illustrate the silliness of Romanticism.

    Hypocrisy Essay

    W1: Writing argument
    W1B: Develop claims and counterclaims fairly; anticipate reader knowledge

    Twain used satire in Huck Finn to criticize the failings that he found in his society.  He shows the hypocrisies of American racism by showing the contradictions and fallacies.

    “Hypocrisy: the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform.”

    What are the hypocrisies that you see in life?  They can range from the very silly to the very serious. For example, imagine a teacher who does not allow students to have drinks in class but is known to spill coffee on the classroom floor or a policy that is supposed to establish fairness but is actually unfair.

    Focus on developing your claim by offering thoughtful reasons and evidence, recognizing and explain opposing claims, and presenting fair responses to opposing views. Show that you have considered the views of others.

    Writing using symbolism

    Opinion Essay: What does it mean to be noble?

    W1: Writing argument
    W1B: Developing claims (evidence)

    “Noble: having or showing fine personal qualities or high moral principles and ideals.”

    Twain encourages the readers of Huck Finn to reflect on what it means to be noble.  He does this by comparing the “starchy” (high class) and the “low-down” of Huck’s society.  He also uses references hereditary titles of nobility. By the end, Twain shows how his views on what makes someone noble differ from traditional views.

    Form a claim about what makes an individual noble. In your opinion, what does it mean to show fine personal qualities or high moral principles?  Support your claim with reasons and evidence. Your examples and evidence might be from popular examples, your own experience, or even Huck Finn.

    Satire Skits

    SL1B: Comprehension and Collaboration: decision making
    W10: Range of Writing

    Analyze one example of satire (target, purpose, and treatment).

    Students create brief skits to demonstrate mastery of satire. The class will also be practicing collegial and constructive decision making (SL1B).

    Ironic Moments Skit

    SL1A: Preparing for group discussions
    W10: Range of Writing

    Irony is when the reality is the opposite of what is expected or appropriate.  Twain often uses irony in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  It is ironic when the Phelps treat Jim as an honored guest after having imprisoned him in a shed.  It is ironic when Pap (an ignorant, irresponsible lout) objects to an African American professor voting.

    Irony comes in three delicious varieties.

    • Verbal irony: A fat man has the nickname Slim.
    • Situational irony: The fire station burns down due to negligence.
    • Dramatic irony: The audience has the key knowledge and the character who needs it does not. (“Don’t go in there! That’s where the murderer is!”)

    Assignment steps:

    1. Students (individually) brainstorm a list of ironic ideas (all three types).
    2. Everyone (on their own) creates a proposal for an Ironic Moments Skit that includes at least two examples of irony.
    3. Divide into groups (4-6 members)
    4. Group members share their proposals so that a final idea can form.
    5. Groups develop the final idea.  Groups may want to combine or modify ideas from different proposals in order to maximize the irony.
    6. Groups create the skit.  Each group should include a signal (a sound, gesture, or visual) that identifies ironic elements for the audience when they occur.
    7. Groups perform.

    Pinterest Page (analyze characterization)

    W6: Technology in writing tasks
    RL3: Analyzing character development

    We will use Pinterest to demonstrate how Twain develops his characters.  Choose one character from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and create a board (set of images with descriptions) with the character in mind.  The idea is for a visitor to get an idea of who the character is, what their motivations are, how the character fits in to the novel, and how and why Twain creates the character for the reader.

    15 Pins minimum (Each image must have detailed description.)

    • 5 Pins focused on analyzing textual evidence
    • 5 Pins focused on the character’s motivations and/or point of view
    • 5 Pins on how the characterization relates to other elements (other characters, a theme, the plot, a satire, word choice, or tone.

    Create Fine Art

    RL7: Comparing works
    W2D: Precise language and vocabulary in informational writing

    You will be creating an original work of fine art (sketch, collage, painting, sculpture, etc.) inspired by The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  Choose one or more elements from the novel (a theme, a character, a mood, an event) to explore artistically.  Be ready to explain your artistic choices and how they connect to the novel.

    Stage 1: Analyze a famous example

    Think about…

    • Subject (what is being portrayed)
    • Emphasis (What aspects are the main foci and how you know?)
    • Tone (the artist’s attitudes toward the subjects)
    • Feeling or theme (what the artist wants to communicate)
    • Style (the techniques the artist uses to communicate)

    Stage 2: Create original artwork.

    Stage 3: Write a brief explanation. What element(s) of the novel did you explore in your art? Make sure to use language arts terms (theme, mood, symbol, etc.) and artistic terms (subject, medium, technique, etc.)

    Huckleberry Finn Pre-reading activities art

    Comparing Literature (essays or presentations)

    RL9: Comparing works
    RL1: Citing textual evidence

    Choose one of the following texts to study in order to make comparisons to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Explain the the similarities and differences by focusing on literary elements (plot, genre, theme, satire, characterization, tone, etc.)

    These children’s books have key thematic connections to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

    Compare the elements of this short story to the subplot of the feud between the Shepherdsons and the Grangerfords.  Make sure to consider irony, satire, and theme.

    Twain offers a comparatively serious critique of human nature. How does his thesis compare to the themes about humanity found in Huck Finn?  Make sure to compare how his two approaches differ in how they communicate a similar message.

    Both of these essays are satirical and have an ironic tone. In the first Twain offers some dubious advice to young people. In the second he presents himself as a candidate upon which the people can count (to be terrible). How do these works compare to the novel in terms of satire, theme, and tone?

    How do Twain and Haley treat the same topic (freedom seeking) differently? Make sure to pay special attention to word choice, tone, and point of view.

    How do Twain and Douglas treat the same topic (freedom seeking) differently? Make sure to pay special attention to word choice, tone, and point of view.

    You do not need to read the entire Odyssey, but do some research on the epic poem in order to make comparisons to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Pay special attention to the structure and the characterization of the title characters.

    Unlike The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, this novel is truly intended for young readers.  Read the book in order explain the key differences and similarities.  Focus on themes, characterization, and realism.

    You do not need to read the entire book.  Research the importance of this abolitionist novel from 1852 and read a few of the chapters (starting with chapters 1,2, and 7).  How do Twain and Stowe take different approaches to opposing slavery and racism?

    Huck Finn vs. The Galactic Empire

    RL9: Comparing works
    RL1: Citing textual evidence

    The fact that FN-2187 of Star Wars adopts the name Finn as he rebels against the society in which he was created is no accident.  Any adult American Star Wars fan who missed this allusion should automatically be sent back to grade ten English.

    Lawrence Kasden, J.J. Abrams, and Michael Arndt made a literary allusion in naming the wayward stormtrooper of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  Why did they do this?

    Write an essay explaining the relevance of this literary allusion.  Organize your essay with an introduction, body, and conclusion.  Make sure to cite evidence from Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to support your ideas.

    Watch the movie closely and consider the following:

    • How is FN-2187’s character similar to Huck Finn?
    • In what ways are the two characters different?
    • In what ways is Finn’s story similar to Huck’s?
    • In what ways are the characters’ stories dissimilar?
    • What are the thematic similarities between the two works?
    • How does the allusion impact the viewers who notice it?
    • Is it important that Finn is played by John Boyega, a black actor?
    • Do you think this connection helped the writers create the movie?

    Slavery in America Research Projects (presentation)

    W7: Research to Build and Present Knowledge (inquiry)
    W8: Using sources

    Slavery has ancient origins, but slavery in America had a unique origin and form.  What do you know about slavery in America? What was its form? How did it come to be, and what is its legacy?

    Students will jigsaw research topics on American slavery and its aftermath. Each student will select one topic to present.  You will need to form research questions, take notes, and cite sources.

    Inquiry and research template

    Possible research topics:

    • Slave codes
    • The plantation system in America (function)
    • The plantation system in America (timeline)
    • The origins of the term Jim Crow
    • Jim Crow laws
    • Nat Turner’s Rebellion
    • The abolition movement
    • Causes of the Civil War
    • Mark Twain and African Americans
    • The Underground Railroad
    • The Stono Rebellion
    • Harriet Tubman
    • The first enslaved Africans in America
    • Uncle Tom’s Cabin
    • Elizabeth Freeman
    • “Forty acres and a Mule”
    • Sharecropping
    • Bleeding Kansas
    • Sojourner Truth
    • The Fugitive Slave Act
    • Dred Scott v. Sanford
    • African Americans in the Civil War
    • African Americans in the Revolutionary War
    • Ona Judge
    • Mississippi River basin (geography and peoples)
    • Henry “Box” Brown
    • Frederick Douglas
    • John Brown’s raids Harper’s Ferry
    • 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment
    • The long-term consequences

    Their Own Words: The Narratives of the Enslaved (presentation)

    enslaved person narrative douglass

    SL4: Presenting findings effectively
    SL5: Strategic use of digital media

    In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, we never get much insight into Jim’s point of view.  Perhaps Twain realized that he could not possibly imagine what it truly was like to be enslaved.

    We will try to gain insight by studying narratives from enslaved people.  Several online collections allow us to read their thoughts and experiences in their own words, but we will choose from a collection in the Library of Congress:

    Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936 to 1938

    Choose one narrative to analyze and present.

    • What about this individual forms their point of view?
    • What personality traits does the speaker demonstrate?
    • What are the key insights that the individual shares?
    • What aspects of life does the speaker emphasize?
    • What aspects of life does the speaker understate?
    • What inferences can be drawn from the details shared?
    • Were any aspects of the narrative surprising to you?
    • Does the real narrative bear any resemblance to the fictional narrative of Jim?

    Huckleberry Finn unit cover

    Related post: Huckleberry Finn Pre-reading Activities 

    Huckleberry Finn Assessment Ideas: Final Exam Banks

    Does a final exam play a role in your Huckleberry Finn assessment ideas? How do you organize the exam, and what kinds of questions do you include?  I break my final exams into comprehension questions, Language Arts standards questions, short response prompts, and extended response prompts.

    Huckleberry Finn comprehension questions samples

    1. One element of Huck and Jim’s friendship is their interest in…
      • Sports.
      • Trying impress girls / women.
      • Greek mythology.
      • Superstitions.
    2. The episode with the Grangerfords is mainly a warning against…
      • Trusting people who claim to be virtuous.
      • Being obsessed with honor.
      • Falling in love.
      • Telling people what you really think.
    3. The most incredible (unrealistic) element of the novel is…
      • Huck’s intelligence.
      • Huck ending up with Tom’s relatives.
      • Jim controlling his own luck.
      • The sudden personality change in the king and the duke.

    Comprehension questions are not rigorous and only determine how closely students paid attention to the novel.  I like to start the exam with these questions so that students can get warmed up and feel some confidence.

    Huckleberry Finn Language Arts standards questions

    1. Pap Finn throws a tantrum regarding the free black man that he meets.  He is shocked that the man can vote. Pap believes that only men like himself should vote.  Of course, Pap does not vote because he is illiterate and drunk most of the time. This episode is an example of…
      • Hyperbole.
      • Imagery / sensory details.
      • Understatement.
      • Allusion.
      • Satire.
    2. “There warn’t no color in his face, where his face showed; it was white; not like another man’s white, but a white to make a body sick, a white to make a body’s flesh crawl – a tree-toad white, a fish-belly white.” This best demonstrates…
      1. Structure (tension).
      2. Word choice (figurative and connotative meaning).
      3. Interacting elements (motivation).
      4. Point of view (irony).
    3. Which choice accurately reflects the narrative point of view of Huck Finn?
      • First-person, limited knowledge
      • First-person, omniscient (all-knowing)
      • Second-person, limited knowledge
      • Third-person, limited knowledge
      • Third-person, omniscient (all-knowing)

    Huckleberry Finn Language Arts standards questions assess students on key elements studied during the unit.

    Huckleberry Finn short response prompts

    1. What is the theme of the episode regarding the Grangerfords and Shepherdsons? Explain how Twain develops this theme.
    2. How and why does Twain use humor in the novel?
    3. Is Huck intelligent?  If so, in what way(s) is he intelligent?  Use three examples from the novel to support your answer.
    4. Analyze this excerpt focusing on recurring elements and theme

    “We had all bought store clothes where we stopped last; and now the king put his’n on, and he told me to put mine on.  I done it, of course. The king’s duds was all black, and he did look real swell and starchy. I never knowed how clothes could change a body before.  Why before, he looked like the orneriest old rip that ever was; but now, when he’d take off his new white beaver and make a bow and do a smile, he looked that grand and good and pious that you’d say he had walked right out of the ark…”

    Huckleberry Finn extended response prompts

    1. How does Twain use the novel to criticize slavery and racism?  What literary elements (point of view, conflict, plot events, irony, satire, themes, etc.) serve this purpose? Use details from the text to support your answer.
    2. What impact does Twain’s choice in narrator have on the novel?  To organize your essay identify three main effects of this choice and write a body paragraph for each.  Use details from the novel to support your answer.
    3. Twain makes fun of nearly every person in the book.  How does Twain use satire? What is his larger purpose besides adding humor?  Consider choosing three examples of satire and writing one body paragraph analyzing each in terms of target, treatment, and purpose.

    Conclusions on Huckleberry Finn assessment ideas

    How many of these Huckleberry Finn assessment ideas will you actually use? I will typically give a final exam or a culminating task and an extension task.  I want to test students on the goals of the unit, but I also want to give them a chance to do something creative and expressive.

    Have Huckleberry Finn assessment ideas to share? Please leave a comment.