Monday, November 12, 2012

Rethinking Test Reviews - A Digital Twist


Final tests are just around the corner. It is that time of the year that teachers, before starting thinking about their well-deserved vacation, have to focus on how to better review the content for the tests. Though we always feel compelled to try something new and exciting, we are in a period of intense tiredness, so we always go for the simple and easy. And, we, the CTJ Ed Tech Team, feel it is the best approach. However, we´d like to invite you to re-frame your review classes, to think of how you can actively engage students in reinforcing what they´ve been learning, but, mainly, how you can have an exciting grand finale for your students, a memorable time together of practice and interaction. 

Our general approach to reviewing is generally asking our students to do the review handout at home and correct it in class. Or just do the written activity in class. Here´s how you could re-purpose your review class, making students active producers of their own review for the test:

- Use your students´ cellphones:

  • Take advantage of notetaking apps. Ask your students to open their notetaking apps and give them an instruction card with what they should add to their note page. Invite them to flip through the lessons and add vocabulary notes, grammar points, writing their own examples to help them remember what they´ve been studying. 
  • Ask them to take photos with their cellphones of objects and situations and write sentences to highlight vocabulary or grammar. They can use an app to add the image and the sentences (and trust us, if they have a smartphone, they know how to do it!), or they can use the photos and write their sentences in their notebooks. 
  • If you have adult students with Smartphones, ask them to download the app Evernote (http://evernote.com ) before class. With Evernote, the students can open a page, add images, sentences and voice to make their own review. Then they can share a link to their final review page with peers. 
  • Students can go through the book and create a short quiz in their cellphone for their peers to answer.
- If you have a set of iPads available:
  • You can use the same ideas above we shared for the cellphones
  • Use simple book creators apps for students to create their own reviews. After students create it, they can share their review pages with peers and teacher by sending the ebook via email, dropobox, Evenote, as a PDF file.  Here´s an example with the app Book Creator (The Ed Tech Team like it because it is super simple to use it!)

  • In apps like Notability and Penultimate, students can make personalized review pages, recording their voices, adding photos and text to their pages. 
  • Students can also open the Pages app to create a page with the main review points
  • The Keynote app lets the students produce well-designed reviews that can be shared with peers. One idea is for teachers to give different tasks for different groups of students (some groups are responsible for the vocabulary review, others for the grammar). Once their review is ready, they can plug the iPad to to the projector and present to the whole group. 
  • Students can also create a listening quiz for peers. Then, they can exchange iPads, or the teacher can plug the ipad in the classroom loudspeakers and have students answer the audio quiz. (this activity can also be adapted for smartphones) 
  • For the younger ones, they can use very simple tools, like Skitch, to write sentences or practice vocabulary. 
- If you have an iPad and a projector in your classroom:
  • ask your students to prepare a quiz on a blank sheet of paper, then take a photo of the quiz and project on the board for their classmates to answer the quiz. 
  • Take photos around the class to practice certain vocabulary items/expressions/grammar points and do a photo dictation by projecting the images on the board. 

- If you have a computer and a projector in your classroom:
  • Here is a nice way to review vocabulary with intermediate and advanced groups using the laptop and the projector in the classroom. It requires no preparation, all you have to do is open a Word document to type in the vocabulary words that need to be reviewed
>> Divide class into 2 teams. Explain that the teams are going to play against each other.One member of the team (at a time) should sit at the front of the classroom with the back facing the board. This way, that student will not see what is going to appear on the projection on the board. The teacher then should type in a vocabulary word. The only student who doesn`t see it is the one sitting at the front. The group , then, should explain the vocabulary so that the student sitting on the chair can guess it. Explain that the group has 3 chances to give an explanation (in other words, up to 3 different students in the group can raise their hands and explain the vocabulary using their own words). The group gets the point if the vocabulary word is guessed correctly.  
Tip: the students can be given the power to choose the vocabulary words used in the game if you assign each team a unit in the book. This way they can pick the words they want to test the opponent team. If you decide to play the game this way, then have them choose the words beforehand.

Remember that the most important aspect of spicing up your review class with digital tools is to make your students active participants in the review activity, in which they are producers of content. By doing that, you are helping them to personalize learning, organize their strategies for learning, and truly understand how they can become autonomous, self-directed learners. 

Remember, however, to keep track of time for students' tasks so that all the main points are reviewed. Also, the paper review is always an important focused practice. Thus,  assign it previously as homework, and be sure to check the main points with students or  let them check their answers with the answer key. Students need a tangible learning object for extra practice to feel safer and more confident when taking the test. So make sure they have either a handout or a digital page, or even better, both!

You might also want to check what teacher Dani Lyra has done with her students to review for the test:

http://tryingoutweb24ed.blogspot.com.br/2012/11/interactive-reviews-2-phrasal-verbs.html
http://tryingoutweb24ed.blogspot.com.br/2012/11/when-assessment-meets-mlearning-phrasal.html


Any other tips or ideas that you´ve tried in your English classroom?

The Ed Tech Team



Vini Lemos, Sílvia Caldas, Carla Arena and Fábio Ferreira

1 comment:

  1. Great, practical tips. Congrats!

    ReplyDelete

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