Monday, February 27, 2012

Test Review!


I've always hated it... the dreaded TEST REVIEW DAYS!

"Is this for a grade???" -every 6th grader

There are three important reasons why I've always hated test review days:

1) I've got to come up with some creative, engaging, fun game that students will enjoy and learn from.  I have even gone so far as to dress up as my alter-ego "Phillip Livingston", an Alex Trebek wannabe from Papua New Guinea.  (SPOILER ALERT: It's really just me with a name-tag and mustache that's been touched by a rainbow. Shhh!)
2) I have to manage behavior during the games because some 6th graders get WAY to excited when I say the word "game".
Mrs. Oberkofler: "Today we are going to play a review game."
Class of crazy childrens: "YESSSSSS! OH MAN! WOWZAH!!! Cool! Can we write on the board? Do we get to run around? Can I throw things? Do we get to punch each other? What do we win? Do we get candy??"
Mrs. Oberkofler: "Oh, Lord in heaven. Please help me."

3) The students who always do what you ask them to do DON'T NEED TO REVIEW! They know it backwards and forwards and a review is a waste of time.

Luckily (for my sanity's sake), I have found a simple solution!  ...All in 8 simple steps, after the break:


Step #1: Put your students into collaborative learning teams

Step #2: Get enough of these big envelopes so you have one for each team

Step #3: Number your envelopes (mine are numbered 1-8 since these are my team numbers).  Nice and big!

Step #4: Laminate these puppies!!  They won't last a day if you don't laminate 'em!

Step #5: Fill each envelope with in-depth, high DOK review questions that go along with that unit.  You might want to laminate these too, if you're like me and plan on having 130 middle schoolers looking at every card.  (UPDATE 7/17/2013: You can also put primary documents inside the folders along with questions that students can answer as they analyze the document.  Sometimes my students finish with the folder too fast and this can lead to off-task behavior.  I make a mental note to add more questions next time.  On more than one occasion, I've added more questions after the test review has started.  I'll just come up with another question on-the-fly, scribble it on an index card and give it to the group that needs more questions - "Add this with your folder, please.")

Step #6: Pass out folders.

Step #7: Put 3-4 minutes on a timer.  Tell students when the timer goes off, the folder will rotate.  They are to discuss in detail each question.  No one gets to sit and do nothing.  Everyone will participate.  The teacher will be walking around to check and make sure this is happening.  If you'd rather review by yourself, I can give you a textbook and send you to another classroom!  And GO!

Step #8: Ask "Are there any questions we should go over as a class before tomorrow's test?"

Tah-Dah!  The students just had a completely student-centered review lesson.  No one needed to be out of their seat.  No one got a free ride.  Everyone had to play along for the good of the group.

Now all that's left to do is take the test!  Wish us luck!

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  1. Hi there,
    I found you via pinterest and wanted to make sure I understand the process.
    Does each folder contain a different question? and just one question per folder?
    Do the students write down anything during this process, or is it just answered in groups aloud.

    1. Hi HH!
      Thanks so much for your comment!! Each folder contains different questions and I usually try to put at least 4-5 questions in each folder. My main concern is length of time--will it take 3-4 minutes to complete whatever is in the folder? And whether or not they write anything... That depends. If it is a review lesson, I only make them write things if it is something they need extra help with-but I leave that up to them to decide. Otherwise they just discuss verbally. I occasionally do other lessons with the folders (my murder-scene-investigation for example) and I make them write down the evidence for those lessons.

      Please let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks again for your comment!

  2. This is great! Thank you so much for sharing! As I read through your idea, which I look forward to using, I thought of how this would be perfect prior to playing a Jeopardy type of game and have the teams compete? That way every student would say involved, especially if they know they'll be answering a question. Thank you, again, for sharing!

  3. Hi! I found you via Pinterest also, and tried this yesterday with my 8th grade ELA class. It worked beautifully. My room is set up in tables, but I really only had 6 different topics to review, so most of my groups were 4-5 students each. I put a topic in each envelope - ("Discuss with your teammates the following:", etc.), and including some open-ended questions and some practice activities (grammar). I added a part where the students were to create their own study sheet based on what they weren't clear about. I also created "Hint Cards" for certain topics when I realized that they were taking too long to figure out where to look up information. Discussions were almost completely on task, and even students who normally wouldn't participate at the very least had to listen to the others discuss, and wrote things down. Afterwards, I asked the kids what they thought compared to the traditional test review, and they loved it. :) Thank you for sharing!

  4. Forgive my ignorance, but what does DOK stand for?

    1. No forgiveness required. It stands for Depth Of Knowledge. Our county has been pushing more rigorous questioning (aka level 3 & 4 DOK questions) for several years now. :)

  5. I like the idea - it would get more of the students involved in the review. Are the answers include in the envelope? How would the kids know if they came up with the correct answers? Do they write something down as the enveloppes rotate (make their own review sheet)?
    Thanks for the idea : )

    1. Thanks for your comment! Depending on the questions & the class level, I may or may not include answers. I walk around the entire time, so most of the groups just raise their hand to ask if they do not understand something. Usually the answers can also be found in the unit study packets we create, so I allow them to grab their packets if necessary for the occasional question. A lot of the questions I ask are subjective based on the data they are given, so it's more about explaining the evidence & their individual determinations than getting a right or wrong answer. However, there have been a few times I've put keys in the envelopes when appropriate.
      Regarding the review sheet, we make review packets from all the graphic organizers we filled-out throughout the unit. Instead of having my kids create another review sheet, I have them create a STRENGTHS/WEAKNESSES self-reflection t-chart (which they fill out during each rotation of the folders), and they have to show it to me before they leave class.

  6. I LOVE this! As a first year teacher, I'm looking to steal every great idea that I can. Thank you for this one!

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  9. Yay for me finding this tonight! I'm printing some flashcards off Quizlet for our Australia unit test ..early AM for me!

  10. Yay for me finding this tonight! I'm printing some flashcards off Quizlet for our Australia unit test ..early AM for me!

  11. Thank you so much for this idea! I am trying to slightly different way with my students on Monday as an after break review!