Tuesday, October 9, 2007

I Hate Reading Quizzes, But They Seem Unavoidable; Here's A Collaborative Workaround

Discoverer's Day holiday kept us away from class yesterday, so I figured that I needed to keep my students accountable for the readings from The Odyssey that I assigned over the weekend. Typically, we have a reading quiz once a week or so, and I always try to not make them about memorizing arbitrary details from the text. Instead, I have them retrieve quotes and write responses that connect the quotes they've chosen to the themes under discussion.
Pretty effective on a couple levels.
Other times, I'll ask them to list 5 events from the chapter in order and explain why each is significant to the rest of the story.
Still I'm not satisfied with the differentiation of these approaches. In an ideal world, we'd read everything in class, explore all of it together. But I only see my class 4 of 6 days for 50 minutes. Hence, the reading quizzes. Yet, the Ning question from my last post kept nagging me to change up the quiz format. Can a quiz still hold students accountable if it's collaborative? Can a student's comprehension be shown in something other than written paragraphs?
The quiz:
Create a timeline of events in the two books.
Create a piece of artwork representative of characters and/or events from the books.
Identify uses of figurative language, explain its effect.
Design a set of critical questions for further exploration of the ideas in the books.

Everybody has to contribute. Ten minutes to get it done. One minute to present each products. Reflection on contribution.

Reflection With Class:
We discussed the division of labor and how it accorded with learning styles and intelligences. We were also able to discuss ideas from the books that the students found interesting and of value. I also segued to the Ning makeover discussed in my last post.

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