Saturday, April 20, 2019

Seven Fun Ways to Review for a Test Using Multiple Choice Questions

It's sort of become a necessary evil. In order for kids to be successful in the awkward format that
standardized tests have, we have to give them some exposure to navigate the format of multiple choice questions.
But it's soooooo boring. 

Here are six ideas you can use to make multiple choice fun and destroy the test prep blues. They'll help you give the kids the practice they need while keeping them engaged!

The best part? You've probably got all this stuff already. You don't have to go to Target or the Dollar Store...unless you want to. Let's face it. Who doesn't want to go to Target? Nobody.

1. Dry Erase Response Boards

Low tech, low prep

To prepare for this strategy:
This is such an easy strategy! Give each student a dry erase board and a marker. These are sold at Target at the beginning of the year in the Dollar Spot, at the Dollar Store, or (even cheaper) you can make your own! Just laminate a piece of white or light-colored cardstock!

Test prep can be fun and motivating with these ideas for answering multiple choice questions! Each strategy can be used for math, reading, or writing questions to practice for any standardized test. Grab a freebie to get you and your students started.


To use it:
1. Place a multiple choice question on the projector, or have each student look at their copy of the question on their desks.
2.  Give them a set amount of time to work on the question.
3. When the timer goes off, ask them to record their answer (A,B,C,or D for multiple choice) on the dry erase board.
4. Use a signal word, such as "GO!" or "Show me!" for students to hold their boards up, all at the same time, facing towards you. 
5. Ask a student or two to justify their thinking, or to explain their thinking to their partner. 

You can easily scan across the room and see who's got it and who doesn't!

Alternate method: 
First, ask students to choose the answer that's clearly wrong and display that. Then ask them to choose one more wrong choice. This will help them integrate their multiple choice strategies into their thought process!

2. Answer Choice Cards

Test prep can be fun and motivating with these ideas for answering multiple choice questions! Each strategy can be used for math, reading, or writing questions to practice for any standardized test. Grab a freebie to get you and your students started.Low tech, medium prep (just the first time)

To prepare for this strategy, you have a couple of options...
1. Print out A, B, C, D options on different colors of paper. Laminate them. Hole punch them in the corner. Put them on a binder ring.

OR

2. Use different-colored index cards. Write a different answer choice on each one: A, B, C, D. Laminate them. Hole punch them in the corner. Put them on a binder ring.

How to use it:
Similar to the dry erase response board, you're going to...
1. Place a multiple choice question on the projector, or have each student look at their copy of the question on their desks.
2.  Give them a set amount of time to work on the question.
3. When the timer goes off, ask them to choose their answer (A,B,C,or D for multiple choice) and place that card on top.
4. Use a signal word, such as "GO!" or "Show me!" for students to hold their cards up, all at the same time, facing towards you. 
5. Ask a student or two to justify their thinking, or to explain their thinking to their partner.

Because you've used different colors for each answer choice, you can easily see who's got it. If most of your kids are holding up pink but two are holding up green, you can immediately tell who might need some intervention. (Hopefully, in this scenario, pink is the right answer.)

Alternate method: 
First, ask students to choose the answer that's clearly wrong. Then ask them to choose one more wrong choice. This will help them integrate their multiple choice strategies into their thought process!

Test prep can be fun and motivating with these ideas for answering multiple choice questions! Each strategy can be used for math, reading, or writing questions to practice for any standardized test. Grab a freebie to get you and your students started.

3. Four Corners

Low tech, low prep

To prepare for this strategy...
This one's easy peasy. Designate each corner in your classroom as a different answer choice (A, B, C, D). You can stick a post-it or a sign up there if you like, to help kids remember.
 How to use it:

1. Place a multiple choice question on the projector, or have each student look at their copy of the question on their desks.
2.  Give them a set amount of time to work on the question.
3. When the timer goes off, ask the kids to decide on their choice. Then, use a signal word such as "Move!" or "Choose!" to signal that students are to move to the corner that represents their choice. They must move in as direct a path as possible, without changing directions. It's also important to teach them not to run. That's why I don't recommend making "Go!" your signal word, as that is pretty much going to start them off at the races! 
4. Once students have moved to their spots, you can ask them to justify their reasoning.

Test prep can be fun and motivating with these ideas for answering multiple choice questions! Each strategy can be used for math, reading, or writing questions to practice for any standardized test. Grab a freebie to get you and your students started.

4. Toss It

Low tech, low prep

To prepare for this strategy:
1. Gather four containers and label them A, B, C, D.
2. Collect enough mini erasers, counters, counting bears, talking chips, or any small manipulative for each student in your class to have one.
You can do this in teams or groups by using smaller containers (cups and min erasers work really well), or you can do this whole group by using larger containers (bins, trash cans, and counting bears or balled-up pieces of paper).

How to use it:
1. Place a multiple choice question on the projector, or have each student look at their copy of the question on their desks.
2.  Give them a set amount of time to work on the question.
3. When the timer goes off, ask the kids to decide on their choice. Then, use a signal word such as "Move!" or "Choose!" (again, I do not recommend "Go!") to have students move to the container that represents their choice and drop their answer in.
4. Have a few students justify their thinking.

This one works well when you're not concerned about figuring out who got it right or wrong, but you do want kids to do the thinking and justify their reasoning.

Test prep can be fun and motivating with these ideas for answering multiple choice questions! Each strategy can be used for math, reading, or writing questions to practice for any standardized test. Grab a freebie to get you and your students started.

5. Stick-It Chart

Low tech, low prep

To prepare for this strategy:
1. Divide a piece of cardstock or construction paper into four quadrants and label them A, B, C, D. Make one of these charts for each team or group.
2. Give each student a post-it and have them write their name on it.

How to use it:
1. Place a multiple choice question on the projector, or have each student look at their copy of the question on their desks.
2.  Give them a set amount of time to work on the question.
3. When the timer goes off, ask the kids to decide on their choice. Then, use a signal word such as "Stick it!" or "Smack it!" Students use that cue to stick or smack their post-it into the quadrant that represents their choice.
4. Have students take turns justifying their thinking. Each student should justify their response.

Test prep can be fun and motivating with these ideas for answering multiple choice questions! Each strategy can be used for math, reading, or writing questions to practice for any standardized test. Grab a freebie to get you and your students started.

6. Dot Stickers

Zero tech, low prep

To prepare for this strategy:
1. Divide a piece of construction paper or cardstock into the number of questions you want kids to work through and number them. You can use the back, too. Each group needs one sheet.
2. Provide each student with a sheet of dot stickers. If you want, they can label the stickers A (red), B (blue), C (yellow), D (green, or whatever colors you've got).


How to use it:
1. Place a multiple choice question on the projector, or have each student look at their copy of the question on their desks.
2.  Give them a set amount of time to work on the question.
3. When the timer goes off, ask the kids to decide on their choice. Then, use a signal word such as "Stick it!" or "Smack it!" Students use that cue to stick or smack the dot that represents their answer choice into the square for the number they worked on.
4. Ask students to justify their thinking and come to a consensus on their answer choice.
*This can also be done whole-group if you use chart paper.

7. Plickers

Some tech, more prep (only you need a smart device)

Ok, this is the one that requires stuff you might not have, just because you have to print out the plickers - the first time. 
To prepare for this strategy:
Plickers is a fun online tool that you can use for free!
To prepare for this strategy...
1. Visit the Plickers website and set up an account.
2. Follow the directions for creating your cards and questions.

How to use it:
1. This works in a similar way to the dry erase response boards. Students will hold their plicker (paper clicker) up in the fashion that represents their answer choice.
2. Scan a smart device across the room and your students' names and answer choices selections will pop up on your device!


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Saturday, April 6, 2019

Four things to remember about data

​It's mid-April. And that means that, by now, you've spent a solid 9,347 hours looking at data.

I've looked at data until my eyes crossed. I've wanted to crumple it all up in a big pile and toss in a match.
I know that sounds like I'm exaggerating, but you're teachers and instructional coaches. You get it.

You want to light it up, too.

So I wanted to help you think about data a little differently, so you don't get so bogged down in all the percentages and color-coding, and end up with zero plans for the future and a little raincloud over your head.

Here are four things you need to know about data.

1. Data can tell us things, but it doesn't always give us the whole picture.

Sometimes administration looks at data from a particular class and says, "Wow! This class is really kicking everybody's tail! Let's find out what they're doing!" And that's great. I mean, sharing and collaboration should be our go-to, and when we have teachers doing awesome things, we want them to share with everybody, right?

But sometimes you have to look beyond the numbers. What is the make-up of that class? Does that class have any students who have historically struggled? Show me the teacher who's closing the gaps for the kids who haven't been successful in the past, and that's the teacher I want to hear from. The teacher who's staying consistent is doing a good job, but the teacher who's moving mountains: that's the gold.

Low math data might tell you that your students are struggling to read on grade level. Or that they aren't identifying the correct operation in a problem. Or that they have difficulty with algorithms. Or that they were really tired and just circled some answers.

You have to look back at students' actual work to figure out what they were doing and where things went off the rails. Without really trying to understand how the student is thinking, data is just a bunch of numbers that stress us out.



2. Low scores doesn't mean "do more".

Sometimes we'd look at data, and people would say, "What more can we do? How about we pull kids in from PE and fine arts, and Saturday School, and after-school tutoring?"

All of these are things people to do spend ​more ​time with kids. But doing more of the same doesn't mean you'll get different results. You'll probably just be more tired, and the kids will be more frustrated and disconnected, and then they'll do the same thing on their test. 
More does not equal better. So to really respond to the data, make sure that you're considering the why. Why are you seeing these patterns? Why are kids responding in this way? That'll help you figure out what to do differently to reach kids.



3. Data is for helping you figure out next steps

This is where the wheels usually fall off the wagon. Instead of using data to figure out how to respond to student learning, we say things like, "We gotta get after it," or "Let's do Saturday School." Ok. So you "get after it" and "do Saturday School".

But what does that mean?

When you look at data, make sure that you're actually planning for the ways to revisit content in a different way, reteach what needs to be retaught, and reinforce the strategies and skills that students need.

One way to do this is to analyze the assessment you gave by question. Really dig in and see which students chose which choice.

Group together the students who need to work on the same skills and pull them in for a small group.

To look across the whole test, talk to your colleagues. Have a conversation about what patterns you notice and what those patterns can tell you about your (and their) teaching practice.

What possible ways can you respond to the challenges students are having? What have your colleagues done that has helped students be successful in this way? How can you build a bridge from the learning students have done to the format of the test?

Make your conversations purposeful instead of fear- and frustration-driven, and you'll walk away with some great ideas. Need help facilitating this kind of a meeting? Check out my post on data PLCs!

4. Test scores aren't the measure of your success.

This one might be unpopular in some (many) circles, but who cares? It's the truth. You are more than the scores your kids earn on a test. If you are using authentic teaching practices, growing relationships with kids, and becoming an efficacious educator, then guess what: you're doing a great job.
We can really get stuck in looking at the data and thinking, "Why am I failing? What else can I do?" And I totally get that. I did it, every year. My kids should've been making more progress; we should've been outscoring the classrooms who weren't using the great practices we were.

And yeah, that would've been awesome. Of course, I want kids to do well on the test because it can limit their opportunities if they don't.

But that percentage of passing on a piece of paper didn't tell me what kind of a job I was doing.

Walking down the halls, and hearing students implement things they'd learned from me, or choosing great books to read, or being engaged in learning something new showed me the impact I was making on my class.

Do we want good scores? Well, yeah! But is that the only indicator that you're doing a good job? (Or even necessarily a good indicator that you're doing a good job?) No way.
And remember, you're more than your scores.

Want to learn about some fun, hands-on ways to get kids excited about multiple choice questions (without having to buy anything?) Check out my post on 7 Ways to Make Multiple Choice Fun!



Are you reviewing data by yourself, with your grade level, or as an instructional coach?

I've got the  freebie for you. I'm sharing my Data Review bookmarks and a printable data review guide to help you get started.

Just enter your email address below and you'll have the bookmarks & guide sent right to your inbox. Stop stressing about data and start making it work for you!
 
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