In my district, returning from spring break marks the beginning of the fourth marking period, the final countdown to summer vacation. Teachers and students alike look forward to school’s off season. Yet, before we can cross the finish line, there is one final obstacle to hurdle: testing season.
There is no question that the academic endurance of both teachers and students is challenged by the onslaught of final tests, state assessments, and exit exams at this time of the school year. The pressure for students to perform well has surely increased with the decision of many states to include students’ test scores on the “report cards” of teachers.
As we approach the end of the year, the following classroom review strategies and games should prove helpful, and even fun and engaging, no matter the grade level or content area in which you teach.
Review with Flash Cards
Flash cards are a simple and effective way to study. Students can use them to self-quiz or to challenge a partner. Flashcards can be created for any important vocabulary, terms, or topics.
Get creative and ask students to devise pictures or symbols to help them remember the given term or topic. Throughout the year, ask students to take notes on note cards so that the flashcards are ready to use.
Game Show Review
Students love games and competition. Jeopardy! games can be created in PowerPoint, as a Google presentation, or by just simply using flashcards. In fact, there are several templates in Google docs for Jeopardy!. The same concept can be used to create an “Are you smarter than…” game or a contest of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”
Student-Generated “Quiz” Questions
Allow students to create questions and answers to challenge classmates. One variation of this activity is to assign a certain number of questions on a given topic to be added to a collaborative project. Use a Google doc template to go paperless and provide an opportunity for collaboration.
Topic or Question of the Day
Post one review question or problem every day for the last few weeks of school. Encourage students to keep track of the questions and answers in their notebooks.
Another idea is for students to submit their answers in a secret ballot style. Reveal the correct answer at the next class meeting.
Create interesting graphic organizers to help students organize important information with more aesthetic appeal. Sometimes all it takes is a simple stray-from-the-norm approach to help engage students.
Pictionary Review Game
Just like students love the game show concept, they never seem to turn down a chance to write on the board. Write a topic, concept, or vocabulary word on an index card. Students work as teams to draw hints on the board without the use of spoken or written words.
Students as Teachers
Allow students to do the instructing. Assign one topic to a single student, pair, or group. Set the standards for the presentation such as the requirement of a visual or a certain time limit for presenting. As the audience, students can take notes on the lesson so they receive information on all of the assigned topics.
Students as Graders
Copy anonymous student essays or sampler essays and rubrics and put students to work. Allowing students an opportunity to assess others’ work can give them an idea of what works and what doesn’t work, especially in writing.
Give students a list of review topics and send them to their notebooks to seek the answers. This allows for review and also helps to teach the value of keeping good notes. An alternative would be to allow students to partner up or work in teams.
Review with Foldables
The graphic organizer meets origami. Foldables are a hands-on way for students to organize information, and there are endless ways to manipulate paper. In a basic sense, foldables require students to put a general topic on the outside and more detailed information on the inside. They are great with any subject.
Break review into sections such as time periods, chapters, or units. Provide review questions and allow students a certain amount of time at each station. Stations could include helpful materials such as notes, books, articles, etc.
Tic-Tac-Toe Review Game
This activity can be used with the whole class but probably works better with small groups. In any case, you need two groups, and each group is assigned either X or O. Draw a tic-tac-toe board on paper or the board. Students earn the ability to place their X or O marker on the game board if they answer a teacher-read question correctly.
Any of the above ideas can be manipulated to work with different class sizes, content areas, and grade levels. You may choose to use a review activity for fun or give students credit for correct answers and participation. And remember, review for a tests doesn’t have to be boring.