This class period is the final class period before we complete this unit! Last period students had time to begin working on study guides, and they were to finish these for homework. Students are always expected to complete the review guide and come with questions to the day before any test I give. I weight the review guide fairly heavily in order to encourage students to study and to more fairly account for students that are still working toward improving their test-taking abilities. I was a pretty poor test-taker in middle school, so I try to offer students that are like my former self a bit of recourse. Since they demonstrate their mastery of skills in multiple ways, I am confident this can still measure their skill level and build the confidence needed by students to become better test takers (rather than simply accepting the fact that they are poor test takers and moving forward).
Today we will be playing a review game, which I try to make an epic event. I know students really like quiz games like Jeopardy, but I like to mix it up. I still do use quiz-style games, but I chose "English War," which is done in a Battleship style, for this test. I developed this game last year, and I love the options for prizes and ease of preparation for this particular activity. It also gives students exposure to a ton of questions, since their strategy often leads them to guess random squares, even when they already know where the larger ships are. The review game in a team atmosphere also requires students to collaborate with their peers, determine the "best" answer if students disagree, and organize their group to ensure that all teammates participate to earn the credit. To that end, I usually assign a "team captain" to help ensure that all students on their team get a chance to speak, though for the first game, I plan on proceeding without captains to feel out their collaborative skills. We've spent time building on these skills so far in class, so I am hopeful that this will be smoother than it has in the past.
Before we get started with the review game, I will offer students the opportunity to ask any questions they have about their review guide. This part of the lesson will take as much time as is needed to answer all of the student questions. Rather than answering the questions myself, I will turn student questions back to the class in order to allow other students to answer them. Allowing students to become the experts here will enable a deeper level of learning for both the student doing the teaching and the student doing the learning. If students cannot help other students with their questions, I will take time to reteach the concept. I don't anticipate that happening, as we have been over the material and completed formative assessment along the way, but if it does, that is what today is about!
After all student questions are answered, I will run down the list of "examples" on the study guide, asking students to offer their own examples for each term. The study guide was designed to consolidate term definitions, but more importantly, students also have to synthesize their own examples (or pick one from the texts) to demonstrate the term. Being able to actually apply skills, not simply match terms with their definitions, is an integral difference between old learning standards and the Common Core. The list of skills students are expected to be able to perform is located at the bottom of the study guide as well, so there should be no confusion as to what to study or expectations for the text. I will go through the examples to emphasize the breadth of the skill and terms and to give students more practice on connecting examples with the skill. As students share their answers, they will also have to explain why this is an example of the term, and other students will have an opportunity to mentally work through how each suggestion pairs with the term. Again, this section's time schedule will be fluid to meet the needs of students.
Once all questions are answered and the material is thoroughly reviewed, we will begin playing English War! I will divide students into three groups (this time, I will do so simply by the seating chart, which is already designed to incorporate all ability levels in all groups, making the teams relatively even). Once teams are divided, I will go over the rules and prizes for English War. The Excel document in the Resources section contains everything needed (except for the questions) to play the game. The board, prizes, and rules are all contained in that one file so that it can be projected on a screen and allow for easy play. Then, I will select a team to choose a square first and begin the game! I sometimes let groups pick numbers to determine order, but today I will probably just go from left to right to keep the order very simple for my frazzled brain!
The test itself is made up of skill-based questions that are taken from 5-6 different assessments in our online textbook. I chose the questions because they had a decent mix of content with skills. Giving students all of the assessments in their entirety would be overwhelming and redundant. However, selecting about 75 questions that capture what I want to assess will make the assessment a reasonable length and produce measurable information about skill proficiency. This objective section is paired with a subjective essay section, which students will not see until the test. They are aware of the topics (listed just under the orange table in the review guide), but I strongly advised them to collect evidence to make inferences and conclusions before arriving to the test. These essay questions are created by me, and they will ask students to synthesize arguments using their opinion and specific evidence to get full credit. Since I wrote those questions myself, I will attach them in the resources. I will also attach a screenshot of the Skyward assessment. (Skyward is a lifesaver, as it automatically grades objective tests for you!)
To close this lesson, students will be reminded to refer to their learning and study preferences (discovered in the first weeks of school) to help them study most effectively. They will also be reminded that their completed study guides must be in their shared folders so that they can be graded. Groups that won prizes will be written down. Finally, I will answer any last-minute student questions.
Students will study for the exam. I will often check my email to answer any student concerns or questions, and I will take the time to set up each class's assessment within Skyward (our attendance and grading software) to begin ten minutes after the start of class next time. I want everything to be ready to go to answer any final questions next time and get the test rolling, so this is my prep work for that!