T.S. Eliot and teachers around America agree: April is the cruelest month! It is that time of year when the mandated state testing period is just around the corner.
Time to start review!
Learning sciences tell us that one of the best ways to enhance memory is through retrieval practice, the technique of bringing information from memory into consciousness without external prompts, cues, or hints. Therefore, one of the best ways to prepare students for an exam is, unsurprisingly, to practice with similar question types and formats.
But…doing hundreds of multiple choice questions over and over is not something that children, or really people of any age, enjoy doing. Repetitive tasks are “boring” (in the words of my students). F
Fortunately, there are many ways to disguise multiple choice practice test prep as fun and games. Here are a few of my favorites:
Review “Easter Egg” Hunt
To develop this activity I took questions from the Texas STAAR released test and simply repackaged them. Instead of giving students a test packet to practice, I put the questions inside plastic eggs and hid them around the classroom. The student answer document had only the correct answers on it. The students had to find an egg, match the question to its answer, and then (their favorite part) re-hide the egg for the next student to find.
I usually have students do this activity in pairs so they have to discuss the answers with each other and use their brains a little bit. (HINT: Be sure to count the number of eggs you put out so you remember to get all of them back.
Graphs and Charts Memory Match
The STAAR test, and many other science standardized examinations, makes extensive use of graphs, charts, and figures in questions. I’ve found that, unless specifically prompted to do so, students tend to skip over the figures and go directly to the question text. This activity helps students take the time to think about what a graph or chart might be showing.
Students receive two sets of cards: the graphs and the meanings. Turn all cards face down. Students turn the cards over two at a time, one from each pile, and, just like in the classic game of memory, try to match the meaning to the graph.
There are two games to get you started. Email me at email@example.com or check out my TeachersPayTeachers page for more fun ways to fool kids into doing test practice.