I am a firm believer in "Student Ownership" when it comes not only to the class, but to the material as a whole. This mini-unit allows students to "take stock" of what they know and are unsure of, and allows me to write a final exam review that is customized to address their weaknesses and reinforce their strengths.
The product of this unit--review posters--will be hung around the classroom for reference as we draw closer to the final exam.
The final exam is a blend of multiple choice (including matching) and short answer questions.
Included in the multiple choice sections are reading selections, either passages from the stores, poems, and non-fiction works we read; other works by the same author; or similar material. Questions on these range from reading comprehension to more complex application of ideas ("which best explains," "what is the best paraphrase," etc.). Some multiple choice questions require recall of the material from class, but as a rule, and a personal preference, more are this style that requires the students to know the skills we addressed and apply those to the material on the test.
The short answer questions typically ask students to compare key ideas or themes expressed in works or analyze how characters develop in connection to the themes of a work. These are one to two paragraphs, and are graded both on content and format, as they comprise a summative assessment.
In order to review for finals, and for students to demonstrate understanding of their ability to cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from both literary and non-fiction texts (RL.9-10.1, RI.9-10.1), the skills needed for participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (SL.9-10.1), and knowledge of research and citation skills and format (W.9-10.8), students are asked to create a "poster" that demonstrates what they feel they have mastery of, and what they feel they need to review.
On one half of the poster, students are asked to recall, explain, and draw an image that represents five things we addressed this semester on which they consider themselves "experts."
On the other half of the poster, students are asked to present three questions or material (and an image to represent) they know we addressed, but of which they are not sure of the importance, significance, or meaning.
The image is included to give students an visual association with the idea, a touchstone to recall on the final. Writing these ideas out reinforces the concepts as well. These posters will be hung around the classroom, to provide a reference for students as we wrap up the semester, and used to draw ideas from as I write the finals and "Final Exam Review Packet" students will be able to use to study; we will focus more on ideas the students list as "not sure" than "expert." As I will be taking time daily starting next week to review for finals, these allow students a reference point to "check" and ask about as we discuss the final exam.
As our first semester straddles winter break, only ending the week before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, students often lose track of what was studied during the first and second semesters. In order to remind students and shake their memories, we take some time to answer the question, "What did we read?"
With two minutes remaining, I let students know they will have time tomorrow to finish their posters and begin generating questions they may have for the final exam. I ask students to make sure they have a copy of the play, "A Raisin in the Sun" for two classes from now.