Reading Quizzes: Day Two

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.

I have given an image quiz to test whether or not my students truly understand the five Puritan principles we recently studied.  I give the them an image and they have to explain in 3-5 sentences which Puritan principle is exemplified by the image.  The image below is the one I give them for the principle known as “Irresistible Grace.”

I usually need to describe images like this that might be a little narrow.  In this case, this is a common sign held by Cubs fans that reads “It’s Gonna Happen,” which references the fans’ beliefs that the Cubs will eventually win a penant; those Cubs fans are hopeful optimists and fiercely loyal, albeit sometimes naive!  After giving the students some background information about the image itself, the students must then describe how this contemporary image reflects the archaic beliefs of the Puritans.

I love this quiz because it makes them really think about what the principle means instead of simply memorizing a definition for it.  It also makes them really think about how awesome Cubs fans are, which also makes me happy!

Below are some of the images I have also used for a quiz over The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn after the students read chapters 31-32.  In this case I give them a variety of images and ask them to choose which four images they can most accurately connect to their reading.



While some of the above are fairly literal, they still meet the needs of assessing what a student knows as opposed to limiting their demonstration through 4-5 lettered options.  Furthermore, instead of constructing a multiple choice question about who Huck consults when trying to decide whether or not to turn in Jim for them, the students are essentially constructing both the question and the answer in describing how that image is embodied in the text. 

While this isn’t graded as quickly as zipping a scantron through a machine, it is relatively clear whether or not the student knows the answer after a quick skim of each image.  Also, the ease of grading is improved based on the specificity of the image.  When creating the quiz choose images that are abstract enough to really challenge the students’ thinking but still has a clear, objective answer.

However, this type of quiz can also be applied to higher-level students by choosing images that are much more sophisticated and complex.  With my AP students I provide popular pieces of art from a literary time period and ask them to examine how the qualities of literature are mimicked in the painting.  The image below is a painting from famed painter Juan Gris, one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite artists.  After studying the elements of Modernism and Hemingway’s writing I ask them to connect the philosophies to the painting “The Bull Fighter.”


They usually respond in a fully developed paragraph, however, I have also used these images and their notes on them as a springboard for discussion when I’m overloaded with grading!  With this actual image, the students are able to consider thematic, tonal, and stylistic similarities between the painting and the writing, thus making for a much more developed reflection of the time period. 


One comment

  1. Susan richardson says:

    I like this idea…of course. However, and you are not going to like me, but in our world of standardized testing students need the experience of reading multiple choice questions and deciphering the correct reponse. Of course, I don’t think it’s the best tool to use to gauge how students understand text daily but it’s a fact of education. Perhaps the Common Core Standards will steer us in a different direction.

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