Studying for Tests

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by jw12, May 17, 2015.

  1. jw12

    jw12 Rookie

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    May 17, 2015

    It's the end of the year, and time for my annual reflection on what did and didn't work this year. One thing that didn't work - preparing my students for tests and quizzes.

    For the past couple of years, I would play a review game with my classes the day before a chapter test (i.e. Jeopardy). But I found that the students were more interested in the game, rather than the review. So, this year I gave study guides for my students to fill out. The day before the test, the students would use their notes to answer the study guide questions (which were VERY similar to the test questions). At the end of class, I would go over the correct answers so I knew they were studying the correct information.

    However, many students complete the study guide just because I make them do it in class, and they never study it! And of course, they promptly fail the test.

    Even after I show them that the study guide was EXACTLY like the test, they still don't make the connection.

    I'm at my wits end. It's too late to change anything this school year, but does anyone have suggestions as to how to get my students to be prepared for tests?

    P.S. - I'm dealing mostly 10th grade general ed and IEP students. Little parent involvement, too.
     
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  3. MLB711

    MLB711 Comrade

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    May 17, 2015

    I hated teaching 10th grade for exactly this reason. I had a similar population of mixed gen-ed/IEP students who just did not want to study.

    Have you considered index cards? Instead of doing a study guide or playing a review game, students get the option to make an index card of information and use it on the test. All of my math teachers and some science teachers in high school allowed it on final exams (since I was in accelerated classes, I doubt they would've let us for regular tests). At least they might start looking at their notes.
     
  4. justwanttoteach

    justwanttoteach Cohort

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    May 17, 2015

    When I was in high school (Google had not been invented yet) our teachers gave us a 5x7 flash card. Whatever we could fit on said flash card we could use for the test..it sorta forces students to pick and choose which areas they knew and others they would need for reference.

    Some new apps seem to do well keeping students engaged both are like games and allow teacher to develop questions

    Kahoot and socrative are two interactive apps that turn student cell phones/iPads into "clickers or buzzers" used to answer questions in game shows on tv. It's cool because it keeps a running record on areas students are struggling many areas they have mastered

    Both are free to teachers/students

    You will need: access to a computer/Internet/ and a projector

    Good luck
     
  5. jw12

    jw12 Rookie

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    May 17, 2015

    I remember being allowed to use a flash card during tests in my high school Spanish class, although I'm not sure how much it helped me! :)

    This method might work... Instead of me telling them what to study and what not to study, they have to be comfortable with all of the information. Yet, they still have the flash card to fall back on during the test.
     
  6. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    May 17, 2015

    I have the same issues. Here are my thoughts:

    I approached this year with the intent to teach study SKILLS, and had students use them in class if I had time to let them review before a test. However as the year went on, I didn't really have time to allow students to review in class, and had to get a move on the curriculum.

    I believe the skills are useful, but most of my students don't have the discipline to use them outside of class, so unless I held a review session before every test, studying wasn't going to happen.

    I believe, after seeing the difference between their scores with studying and without, they may be encouraged to use the skills on their own. But it would require more rigorous intervention on my part.

    Also, games, even if you don't think they're useful, they have their place. They don't teach study skills, but they're fun, engaging, and they do promote memory of concepts. I have a quick one, where I just throw around a stuffed monkey and ask questions. I give them tickets if they get it right. I can do this if we have a spare 2-3 minutes at the end of class.

    I also quizzed much more frequently this year, and noticed a difference during units when I didn't quiz as frequently and during those that I did. Quizzing helps retention a LOT. I didn't put the quizzes into the grade (though I made them think I did).

    Because my students are 8th grade, and they have very little discipline for studying, I allowed them to use a flashcard on exams. This was good and bad. The good, it covered my butt when a student did poorly on tests, because more often than not, they weren't studying nor did they make a card to use on the exam. The bad, sometimes students would just make a card and not study. This didn't help. It would help if they were actually processing the information they put on the card, but they were more likely to just copy it onto the card without reading. Worse, they'd spend so much time getting all of the information onto this tiny card and never spent time studying because they were under the illusion that they would know it all because they wrote it on the card.

    The study skills I really tried to drill into them this year, is that testing yourself is crucial. Don't just read things or copy things down (like on a card). They need to be able to recall. Even if they HAVE a card, they may not know which information fits, where it is on their card, and it takes longer.

    My plan for next year.

    Teach them study skills for the first exam. Allow them to not study on the second exam, and then having them compare their scores to see the efficacy of using the study skills. And then maybe repeat this later on in the year.

    Honestly, studying in 8th grade is not a priority, and I don't blame them.

    And of course there will be the kids who never study and will ace the tests because they haven't hit their road block yet. I didn't until I was in college and realized studying was crucial.
     
  7. jw12

    jw12 Rookie

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    May 17, 2015

    This is exactly what I have found. Sometimes I get mad and think, "I'm not going to give them anything! They can just study their notes!!" But of course, given my students, I know what will happen then.

    Many of my kids are in a state of learned helplessness. Everything has been given to them for so long, they don't have any concept of actually having to study and try.

    I like the idea of more short-cycle assessments, like quizzes. And maybe I'll try the notecards, just to see what happens.
     

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