Friday Dialogue from Your
Two Favorite Educators
As Emily and Aubrey look back over the week they use their razor sharp wit to assess their innermost feelings about reading quizzes and The Outsiders.
1. Reading Quiz Flashbacks?
Aubrey: Is it wrong that I can still remember my 8th grade Language Arts quiz on the final section of The Outsiders?
Emily: Is this a rhetorical question?
Aubrey: [without paying attention] This day is perhaps my largest failure as a reader. In an effort to hurry so that we could watch the movie version which my language arts teacher billed as a “treat” I neglected to realize there was a back side to the reading quiz. After the lights dimmed I realized the gravity of my situation. Answering only two short answer questions guaranteed me a 50 percent. That was not going to cut it. I had suffered through the novel. Every painful page with Pony Boy. I got up and, perhaps a little bit too loudly, asked if I could have the quiz back. Let’s just say my request went unanswered. Let’s also say that I didn’t make any friends that day.
Emily: Oh no. Isn’t Emilio Estevez in that movie? I loved him growing up. Maybe I should Netflix this one. Read more
Okay, I feel like the multiple-choice quiz has gotten a bad rap this week and I hate hurting other’s feelings. So today’s post is dedicated to making the multiple-choice quiz feel more accepted and loved.
However, this post is going to be a little bit like What Not to Wear. I’m going to be Clinton Kelly and give the multiple-choice a make-over that it needs and deserves.
Just like there is a place for animal print in everyone’s closet (in moderation, of course), there is a place for the multiple-choice quiz. High-stakes tests almost exclusively use multiple choice tests as an indicator of reading ability…but that is the key: reading ability, not memory. I think that is where my hatred of the multiple-choice quiz lies: I’m a good reader. I swear. I am. Really, I’m a pretty good reader. But I have the memory of a fish. Multiple choice quizzes have developed a bad reputation because many teachers use them to test students’ memory or trick them. Most multiple-choice reading quizzes aren’t actually assessing reading ability, but, just like a guy with a mullet, that doesn’t mean they can’t be transformed to be practical and effective.
Oh that dreaded Lord of the Flies multiple choice question. It has haunted me since my youth. Because of this, I have made it my mission as a teacher to create quizzes and activities that allow students the creativity to explain their knowledge of what they read, as opposed to just bubbling in an answer. I have tried to create quizzes that go beyond just comprehension and really ask them to apply their knowledge. One strategy I have been employing with my students is something I have dubbed the “interpretive mindmap.” A mindmap is like a graphic organizer. They are boxes linked together by conceptual lines. Some lines have arrows on one end to indicate the action on something.
Now, to complete this successfully, students have to have some background knowledge of how to construct a mindmap. It isn’t just as simple as drawing boxes and lines. The students have to be able to explain how the lines connect the boxes. In the beginning of the year I give them various mindmaps as viewing guides to films or to discuss literary time periods. Many times I will give them a mindmap with words in the boxes and they have to write a description over the lines, requiring them to think about the use of arrows on the line itself. Below is a mindmap from the website bubble.us (described in more depth below) I have created for viewing The Crucible to model how to go about constructing a mindmap.
In the age of unlimited messaging and 40 hours per week of video gaming, kids aren’t used to deciphering words. They are better consumers of images. To support their visual addiction and because I love hearing them say “ugh….it’s so hard, Ms. Richardson,” I have started replacing the multiple-choice quiz with image quizzes. What this means, is that I determine images that are representative or metaphorical to a text or time period and ask students to explain how the image connects to the studied content. Sounds simple, but it is actually quite difficult for the kids because it asks them to prove their knowledge by thinking critically about what they read, not just repeating/regurgitating it.
You know you’re old when you start a story with “Well, I remember when…”
Okay, yeah, I’m old. At least I’m not denying it. Hi, my name is Emily…and I’m 31. I’m sure you are all responding in typical AA fashion with “Hi, Emily.” At least this realization hasn’t sent me into a quarter-life crisis (or maybe it has and that is why I’m contributing to this blog).
With this admission of age, I now begin my story with…
Well, I remember when I was sitting in my sophomore English class and our teacher, who seemed in my young naive mind to be an old, debilitated, frail man (who was in all actuality probably 31), wanted to go over the answers to our recent unit test over Lord of the Flies. Read more