This post is reprinted with permission from Science in the City.
I don’t know if you are in a state that has Regents exams, or if you are in a state that has other state exams instead.
Here in NY, we have Regents exams. They are exams given at the end of the course, in most high school courses, and passing a certain number of them in each content area is a graduation requirement.
I teach in an urban district, where the passing rates are fairly low. I am always looking for ways to help students be successful on those tests. I have tried many other things (which I may write about in other posts).
A colleague and I are trying a new strategy now. Here is our plan (really, it was my colleague’s plan first, and then I have adpated to my class):
– Analyze the past few years Regents exams, correlate them to the NYS standards, to determine which topics are the most heavily tests, and what those test questions look like. In other words, which standards are emphasized on the exams, and how are those standards translated into test questions.
– Starting about now, give students weekly 10 question quizzes. The quizzes will be made out of the most commonly tested standards.
– As students get questions right, the quizzes will adapt to include the next most commonly asked questions.
– The quizzes are being done on http://www.socrative.com
. This allows me to add an explanation to the questions. Students can take the quiz, know immediately how they did, and as they see their answer, see an explanation of why the correct answer is correct. I am encouraging them to take notes, and study those notes. If they are getting questions wrong, there is a good chance that they will see the same questions next week.
– As I see a question that the class as a whole is not progressing on, I can go back and target that for a quick ‘intervention.’
So far, students are enthusiastic. One of my top students even said “So we are starting review now?!”
Me: “Yes, a little bit of review”
Student: “That’s a good idea, then when we get to June it won’t be so overwhelming!”
That’s the idea. Those students who advance faster through, will get more review, but those who advance slower will still review and hopefully “get” the most commonly tested concepts.
Tara is a science teacher from upstate NY. She has taught General Science, Biology, Environmental Science, and Earth Science.