Teacher and coach

A better post-test review

One of the teachers I work with, Ms. C, recently gave her students a test and was disappointed in the results. Too many of her students had missed too many of the test questions, and she felt like they needed to master that material before she moved one. She felt like she needed to teach it again, but she didn’t want to cover it exactly as she’d done before and she wasn’t sure what to do differently.

We talked a little, and here’s what we came up with:

  1. She took the 8 questions the class had done the most poorly on, wrote each one on a piece of poster paper, and taped the poster paper up on the walls around her room.
  2. She gave the students sticky notes and put them in small groups, each group in front of one of the posters.
  3. Everyone was required to write an answer to each of the questions on a sticky note and stick it on the poster for that question. They could use their class notes, the textbook, the internet, whatever they wanted, but they had to write an answer for each question. As they answered each question, they moved clockwise around the room until everyone had put an answer on a sticky note on each poster.
  4. When each group got back to their original poster, they had to rearrange all the sticky note answers into categories of Right or Wrong.
  5. Ms. C facilitated a whole-group discussion of the questions.

She said the activity was a resounding success, and she was especially pleased about the following:

  • Student movement: Getting students up and moving around almost always contributes positively to learning.
  • Student discussion: Even though she didn’t specifically tell them to, there was a lot of discussion (and learning) that took place as the students asked, answered, and argued about the questions among themselves as they walked around writing their answers down.
  • Student thinking made visible: She could tell immediately which questions students were still struggling with, simply by the way the sticky notes were arranged into categories of Right and Wrong on the posters. (This is known as Making Thinking Visible.)

Something that I was also pleased with was the fact that Ms. C specifically targeted the questions that most of her students had missed, thus making the most efficient use of her re-teaching/review time.

I also love that this activity illustrates something that I tell my teachers all the time: an activity doesn’t have to be super-complicated, or take a long time to plan, in order to be effective. Often, just adding a few small pieces (like student movement or student discussion) increases student engagement and rigor.

Photo Credits: jirfy Flickr via Compfight cc, and Ms. C

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Powered by WordPress | Designed by Elegant Themes