Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Testing and review

Life is full of tests. Some are more formal, like the one I will give my students tomorrow. And some are informal, like the one my students gave me today.

Before tests, I like to give my students a study guide and an opportunity to review the material. This usually results in a review game. Yesterday during peer tutoring I asked a few of my students what game we should play and they overwhelmingly chose Jeopardy. My concern with Jeopardy had been students who aren't engaged, so being the on-my-toes teacher I strive to be, I came up with a brilliant solution. At least, I thought it was brilliant.

I made my Jeopardy and Double Jeopardy powerpoints and hooked my computer up to the now-mounted projector (isn't technology great?) and proceeded to divide my students into three teams. I directed them to place their backpacks on one side of the room and move the desks so they could sit in a group with their team to encourage participation. It worked for a while, until I realized every time there was a pause every student began their own conversation. After multiple warnings and whistle-blowings, I ended the game. Students ended the day studying silently at their own desks.

Most of my attempts at review games have ended in frustration and a headache for me. I want to help my students succeed, but they make it so difficult. So now I wonder, what review games are actually helpful? As a student (or teacher, if that is your profession) what review games helped you to grasp material? How do I get my students to focus and be respectful without losing my voice or bursting their ear drums?


  1. What grade are you teaching? In student teaching I had the same problem with freshmen and sophomores (Algebra 1 and Geometry 1).

    One trick that helped a little was I required them to write all the answers on their paper, to be turned in at the end of class. Then they didn't have the excuse of "it's not my turn."

    Also, instead of letting one team control the board I just rotated control so one team didn't dominate and leave the others idle.

    But seriously, good job at least attempting it! My greatest fear would be to become one of those teachers that uses the "they'll just ruin it" cop out and does everything the easy/non-engaging way.

  2. Thanks, John! I'm teaching World History to freshmen this semester. Next semester I'll be teaching US/AZ History to juniors and Gov./Econ. to seniors. I like the thought of requiring them to write down the answers because typically my test questions are pretty similar to the review questions. Thanks for the suggestions!