We can hope that students work on exam reviews at home or come to after school exam review sessions, but sadly, hope is not a plan. By slightly adjusting our mindset, we can make sure that students are working by hosting in-class exam reviews. The benefits are endless, check it out and let me know what you think:
IN-CLASS EXAM REVIEWS (Feedback, Discussion, Collaboration, Writing)
Description: Too often, teachers hand-out review items and expect students to complete them at home and unless the teacher goes over the review, there may be incorrect answers lurking. In this simple, but meaningful strategy, teachers provide time for students to work on reviews in class, with conditions. This approach also builds trust and camaraderie with students. It also guarantees that all students have been exposed to the material to be tested and some students actually learn the material while reviewing! And as an added benefit, it can satisfy some I.E.P requirements.
Application: The In-class Exam Review process can be used in any subject.
Process: Gather exam review documents, either paper or online in a file format. As exam time nears, explain to students that time will be set aside for exam review at each class meeting and to have review items at the ready. On the first day of the review, hand-out review items bundled in a stapled “packet” or release the online document’s file. Provide guidelines:
After an appropriate amount of time has passed, go over answers in a brief manner, but clarify misunderstandings. Optional approach, assign the next review as homework to encourage students to “see what they know” before the review. Tell them to make note of any question/answers that they did not know or made an educated guess and concentrate on those for the in-class review session.
Resources and for more information:
King, T. Rentz, J. (2022) “Teaching More and Talking Less: Using Examples During Class” Faculty Focus Podcast #35
The art of questioning is present in this protocol. Comment below and let us know if you do something similar in your class.
FUNNEL QUESTIONING TECHNIQUE (Questioning, Discussion, Feedback)
Description: Originally used in business, the Funnel Questioning Technique provides teachers with structure by improving the way they ask questions, figuratively resembling a funnel, broad to narrow. It mandates that different types of questions are asked in a particular order. Not only does the technique address academic concerns but can be used as a way to show genuine concern for students. Adapted heavily from Revolution Learning's The Questioning Funnel – Effective Questioning.
Application: Apply the technique when evaluating students’ levels of understanding, seeking additional information, or enhancing relationships within the classroom.
Process: Have a topic, lesson, or unit in mind when creating funnel questions. Review the general technique’s order: “...start with broad open questions, probe to gather more specifics, and then use a closed question to clarify.” Begin with open questions, examples include Who? What? When? Where? Why? Tell, Explain, and Describe. After a variety of student responses, initiate probing questions, also open-ended, that ask for more specific information. Make sure the “next” probing question is always based on the “last ''answer given, digging deeper each question/answer set. After probing, show students understanding by asking closed (yes/no) questions that confirm their answers. Examples of closed questions are Did? Can? Will? Are? If? Were? Is? etc. Provide ways such as summarization or short-answer response for students to encapsulate what they have learned through the process.
Resources and for more information:
The Questioning Funnel - Effective Questioning - Revolution Learning and Development Ltd
A few years ago I read an intriguing article on "Exam Debriefs" by Maryellen Weimer, PhD in the online magazine Faculty Focus. Dr. Weimer challenges instructors to make testing a learning opportunity instead of just an entry in the grade book. This is innovation at its finest. Traditionally, teachers will "go over" answers from a test/exam, either in total or only the answers missed. (How tedious it must be for the student to review things she answered correctly!) While some may have questions about the implementation; for example, how to grade both quickly and efficiently or how to keep students from cheating, the notion that learning can happen from an unlikely source (exams and tests) has merit. Originally posted in 2016. Give it a try and let us know how it goes.
DOUBLE-TAKE TEST (Feedback, Writing)
Description: Based on an article by Maryellen Weimer, PhD, a Double-Take Test allows students to correct their own tests giving them opportunities to learn material missed during study or to clear up any misunderstandings of the content. It can also be used as a measuring stick for the effectiveness of a student’s study methods.
Application: Use this two-stage testing method for multiple-choice tests in any subject.
Process: Create a multiple-choice test with a separate answer sheet. Before administering the test, decide corrections format. (Will students make corrections independently or in a group, during class time or at home?) Review the guidelines with students: 1) Read question, review answer choices, select best answer, and mark answer on both test book and answer sheet; 2) at completion, submit answer sheet and keep test book; and 3) follow format instructions and review answers in book, make corrections, and submit next class meeting. Score both test book and answer sheet awarding two points if answers to question are correct on both, one point if answer was correct on one but not the other, and no points if answers to question are incorrect on both. (If cheating is a concern, avoid “at home” corrections and provide time the next class meeting for students to make corrections.)
Weimer, Maryellen (October 19, 2016)
How do teachers know if students are paying attention during direct instruction? This simple technique will keep student accountability high, generate a reliable study guide, and satisfy IEP requirements. Comment below to let us know how it goes-
SKELETAL LECTURE NOTES (Writing, Feedback, Collaboration)
Description: This simple active engagement writing strategy assists students to stay focused during direct instruction (lecture), most especially in large classes. Students must listen closely during class in order to fill-in the pieces of omitted information.
Application: Use in any subject that includes a lecture format.
Process: Before class, create a handout that covers the lesson’s direct instruction piece. Omit some, but not all, key words such as specific people, places, events, and things. On class day, provide students with a handout of the day’s lecture. Warn students not to interrupt the lecture. During the presentation, emphasize those omitted words by pausing, repeating, or inflecting. Unless there is mass confusion, tell students there will be time for clarification of information with fellow students, not the teacher.
I have included two new icebreakers for you to try at the start of a new semester. Remember, you are always welcome to modify based on the level of your students. If you get a chance, let me know how you adapted the icebreakers and why.
ICEBREAKER: THREE FACTS ABOUT ME (Discussion, Collaboration)
Description: This is a fun activity to do when students are meeting each other for the first time.
Application: This is an icebreaker but can also serve as a review activity.
Process: Hand out an index card to each student and direct them to write three of their interests, hobbies, and/or experiences (sports, music, reading, etc.) on the card. Remind them to put their name on the card. Gather cards. Have all students stand. Select one card, read aloud the first item and say, “Any student that does NOT have something similar, sit down. Read the second item aloud and say, “Only students who have both items in common remain standing.” Read the last item. If only one student remains standing, introduce the student. If more than one student remains, emphasize that they have many similarities, even though they may have attended different schools or live in different neighborhoods, etc. Repeat the process with another card and after activity, review cards to gain insight about each student. Ebony Matkins, CCECHS
ICEBREAKER FOLLOW-UP: TAKE A STAND (Discussion, Collaboration)
Description: The Icebreaker Follow-up: Take a Stand is perfect to end the first day of class as a sequel activity if there is at least twenty minutes of class left. It can also be used as an informal assessment best used with common misunderstandings. It combines elements of discussion with movement.
Application: This activity can be used as an icebreaker, but also as an informal assessment in most subjects.
Process: Before the very first day of class, prepare a list with numerous either-or statements. After the administrative duties that occur on the first day of class are over, engage students in an icebreaker activity that encourages discussion, camaraderie, and collaboration. Ask students to move desks toward the walls and gather around the open area. With masking tape, tape a line in the middle of the open area and announce that it is the “dividing line.” Explain to students that a statement will be read out loud and they will move to the side indicated. If a student is undecided, tell them to straddle the line. Examples: chicken or salad, mountain or beach, Pepsi or Coke, Gatoraid or Poweraid, Netflix or Hulu, football or basketball, thunderstorm or snowstorm, night owl or early riser, shy or outgoing, call or text, etc. (If used as an informal assessment, provide two options of commonly confused information: Display cloud formation: cumulus or nimbus, First President? Washington or Lincoln, Creator of Big Stick Policy? Teddy Roosevelt or Franklin, etc.)
If you are a subscriber to the monthly bonus protocol and have switched emails, please make sure you let me know. Many thanks, Alison
It's not enough for students to answer questions. True critical thinking begins when students can formulate questions that seek to answer. This leads to internal dialogue which leads to more questions and better, more nuanced questions at that! Many teachers say they do not have time to insert a questioning strategy into their lessons. This month's protocol debunks the idea that student-led questioning takes too long with little return. Give it a try this fall and let me know how it goes.
10 X 10 QUESTIONING STRATEGY (Questioning, Discussion, Collaboration)
Description: Sparking student questioning is at the heart of this simple, but effective protocol. Adapted from an article from Mentoringminds.com, 10 x 10 strategy limits time to promote “thinking focus” when students develop ten questions in ten minutes.
Application: Use 10 x 10 to activate prior knowledge or interest in a topic, after reading or completing a unit of study.
Process: Explain protocol prior to implementation. Display an easy-to-see visual timer set at ten minutes. Instruct students to create ten questions based on the learning in ten minutes. Encourage students to construct a variety of questions from knowledge-based to analysis/evaluative. Encourage quality of questions with “extra credit” enticement for questions used in whole group discussion. At the time-limit, collect work and select questions from submissions and discuss.
Resources and for more information:
Berger, W. (2014) Five ways to help your students become better questioners. Edutopia.org
Stobaugh, R. Sparking Student Questioning, Mentoringminds.com
Whether we are ready or not, AI is demanding a seat at the education table. But like anything that is new, those who use it must be accountable for understanding the good, the bad, and the ugly of it all. A teacher who uses the AI tool mentioned here MUST understand the implications and be able to justify its use. No doubt, this is a time saver of epic proportions for the beleaguered English teacher, but it is not without some potential problems. Explore! Try it out and let us know how it goes!
USING TECH: AI: GOTFEEDBACK (Feedback, Writing)
Description: With a “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” mentality, gotFeedback is an AI tool for teachers to save time grading written work. From the website: “To receive good feedback from gotFeedback, (teachers) you need to create specific prompts. Using the Seven Keys to Effective Feedback by Grant Wiggins, gotFeedback has put together advice on how to create effective prompts for it to provide desired feedback . . .” AI or no, teachers should always read student’s work .
Application: Use this tool to streamline feedback.
Process: Go to www.gotlearning.com and explore the possibilities using the tool. From the information gathered, start small by assigning a fairly simple and straightforward prompt. Make sure students submit their work online. To access the feedback, upload or paste student text (word or PDF) into the gotFeedback box. Select the element of writing the AI tool needs to analyze: narrative structure, details in writing, claims in writing, and evidence in writing. Note that there is also a custom feature. (For the first few times the AI tool is used, make sure to read the original student work and form conclusions as to what feedback without AI assistance would look like in order to judge its value.) Once AI has analyzed the document, read the written evaluation, copy the text onto the student document and edit to provide “more personalized feedback.” Be ready to correct inaccuracies in the AI feedback.
References or for more information:
Byrne, R. (2023) Practical Ed Tip of the Week: gotFeeback- An AI Tool for Providing Feedback on Writing Freetech4teachers.com
Alison Thetford, M.Ed