You ‘ve probably seen the look on your students’ faces…that look of utter despair.
Another test prep worksheet!
Let’s say goodbye to boring test prep. No matter the test you have to give, good instruction is still good instruction!
In this post, I will give you four teaching strategies that promote critical thinking in fun and engaging ways!
This tried and true strategy requires no preparation! Students will complete a multiple choice practice page. Then you will give instructional feedback on the questions. But…
…Instead of students falling asleep at their desks, they will walk to the four corners of the room to represent their chosen answer. Each corner is labeled with either an A, B, C, or D.
The best part of this activity is the formative assessment feedback you receive. You can quickly see which questions were difficult. Then ask guiding questions to help students develop better understanding.
Tips to make this strategy better:
- Give bonus points on the paper if students can answer additional questions such as, why is B wrong? How did you prove your answer? Why is C a good distractor?
- When students are in their corners, have them silently look on their neighbors paper to “police” the corner…make sure everyone is in the corner of their answer choice.
- Be careful not to drag this activity out for too long. The physical participation can result in off-task behavior if you extend past students’ attention spans.
Test Question Slapdown
In our previous post about Test Question Slapdown we explained this teaching strategy in detail. Here’s the skinny:
- This strategy focuses on analyzing test questions. It promotes deep thinking.
- It’s a total participation strategy where everyone is involved and physically active.
- It gives the teacher instant formative data to guide instructional feedback and questioning.
- The only prep is a set of four index cards for each student. They are labeled A, B, C, D to correspond with the answer choices. Students “slap down” on the answer choice, and you can see what they chose.
- Instead of simply asking, “What answer did you choose?” ask “What is the worst answer choice?” Follow up with, “Why?” Also ask, “What is the best distractor?”
- Keep the index cards in plastic bags. One bag per table group. This makes it quick and easy to manage the materials.
- Let the students prepare the cards. Give each student two index cards. They cut them in half. Then label them. No prep for you!
Prove it or Lose it
Are students not using strategies? Are they not showing their work?
This strategy is a fun way to motivate them to do the strategic work required in any subject. It’s simple. They either prove it, or they lose it! Here’s how:
- Use a short practice activity, either independent or cooperative practice. It has to be a short practice and non-consequential.
- Students must prove their work just like you teach them how. If they don’t prove it, they lose it – you crumble the paper and throw it away!
- When done in a fun way and non-threatening way, students love it!
- You could also plan and provide some sort of motivation like team points, edibles, or lunch with the teacher. At the end of the week students who have the most pages complete (not thrown away) win the reward!
Half & Half
Take a multiple-choice test and narrow the answer choices down to two. Leave the best distractor and the correct answer. In this learning activity, split the room in half using desks or a piece of tape. Follow these simple steps:
- Students will go to the center of the room with a test question or questions.
- They all work on the same question, either projected, on student devices, or on paper.
- Each half of the room represents an answer choice. After the time to work over, you say, “Half & Half.”
- Yes, say those words actually help students feel like it’s more fun…don’t ask me – but it’s true.
- Students move to the side of the room that represents their answers (just like in four corners).
- Students who get the answer right explain their answer first.
- Then students who got it wrong, explain where the mistake was made.
- You can use a random name generator to pick on student from each half to explain.
This works great for any subject. It’s quick. It’s active.
Students love to participate, and there are only two rules that you really need to have:
1) respect personal space.
2) no talking during the movement.
I’m not sure why these activities are so engaging! They can be very rigorous and they are just easy-to-use.
I wonder what strategies you use. Have you used any of these strategies? How did it work? What strategies do you have that are better than these? Please share or find more engaging teaching strategies in theses related posts: