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The Watsons Go to Birmingham: Test Questions for Discussion and Review

written by: Pamela Rice-Linn • edited by: Trent Lorcher • updated: 7/12/2012

If you’re preparing your students for a test on the novel, try asking these questions for review and discussion. With three levels of questioning, every student can contribute in class by responding to the novel "The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963".

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    The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 Get the entire class involved in this test review for The Watsons Go to Birmingham test by asking these three levels of questions of your class. Based on Costa's levels of inquiry, students will review the novel by recalling information, creating inferences, and analyzing the story to create conclusions. Hold an open class discussion, such as a Socratic seminar, or have students question their peers. Challenge your students to provide textual evidence for their answers to strengthen their responses.

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    The Questions

    question mark Easy Level Questions

    1. Why does Momma keep her hand over her mouth when she laughs?
    2. What is the name of the family car?
    3. What was Kenny’s special talent?
    4. Why does Kenny not play with LJ Jones anymore?
    5. What is the Watson’s primary complaint about living in Michigan?
    6. Why doesn’t Byron do his part when it’s time to scrape the ice off the windshield?
    7. What was Kenny’s special talent?
    8. Why does Larry Dunn make fun of the new kids on the bus?
    9. What happened to Kenny’s gloves?
    10. What is Byron’s punishment for playing with matches?
    11. Who wants to protect Byron from Momma’s punishment?
    12. How does Kenny pay for the milk, break, and tomato paste Momma sends him to buy?
    13. What did Byron do to his hair? Why?
    14. What changes or repairs does Daddy make to the Brown Bomber?
    15. What was Byron’s secret plan before leaving for Alabama? How did Momma and Daddy spoil his plan?
    16. How does Daddy spoil Momma’s plans for the trip to Birmingham?
    17. What is Daddy talking about when he mentions God’s beard?
    18. Who is Mr. Robert?
    19. How did Byron explain the danger of swimming at Collier’s Landing?
    20. Who saves Kenny? How?
    21. What noise did Kenny and the neighbors hear one Sunday morning?
    22. Why does Kenny check himself into the World Famous Watson Pet Hospital?
    23. Who helps Kenny recover from his ordeal?
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    Moderate Level Questions

    1. Why does Kenny cry when he sees his face in the bathroom mirror?
    2. What is Byron’s explanation for Momma insisting they wear so many layers of warm clothing?
    3. How would you describe Byron Watson? Use examples from the story to explain your answer.
    4. How does LJ Jones outsmart Kenny?
    5. Why does Rufus stop speaking to Kenny? Explain.
    6. Joetta asks Byron, “Why do you always do stuff to get people mad at you?” (page 92) What are some possible explanations Byron might make the choices he makes?
    7. Why do Momma and Daddy not approve of Byron’s hair?
    8. Why does Byron vomit after knocking the bird off the wire?
    9. What gift does Mrs. Davidson give Joetta? How is the gift significant to Joetta?
    10. Why do the Watsons plan a trip to Birmingham?
    11. How does Kenny respond when he sees Joetta at home after he has returned from church?
    12. Why was Kenny hiding behind the sofa?
    13. How does Kenny differ from Byron?
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    Discussion Challenging Level Questions

    1. How does Kenny feel about his older brother? Explain using examples from the story.
    2. What is Kenny’s favorite song on the road trip? Listen to the lyrics of this song. How does it symbolize Kenny’s young life?
    3. Why does Joetta leave her gift from Mrs. Davidson in her sock drawer? How is her response to the gift connected to a theme of the novel?
    4. How does Kenny change while he is in Alabama? Name two examples.
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    Take your novel review one step further by using these questions as examples and asking students to create their own set of questions for a test. Surprise them by choosing a handful of student questions for the final assessment on. Their faces will beam with pride!

    However you choose to prepare your students for a test, you can be sure to have your entire classroom population involved in the review with these level questions.

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    Article Resources

    Curtis, Christopher Paul. The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963. Dell Laurel-Leaf: New York, 1995.

    Costa's Levels of Inquiry: http://mrkash.com/costa.html

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    Image Resources

    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vraagteken.svg

    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Presa_de_decissions.png

The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 Resources for Classroom Use

Prepare to teach The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 by previewing the articles in this series. You'll find great time-saving ideas for your lesson plans.
  1. Ideas and Activities for The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963
  2. The Watsons Go to Birmingham: Test Questions for Discussion and Review