Monday, November 12, 2018

Juxtaposing Student Voice & Choice w/ AP Exam Test Prep

When your Senior level AP course doesn’t have TEKS and is primarily focused on preparing for the AP exam, there is not much room for student creation and choice, right? WRONG! AP English IV (AP Literature and Composition) teachers Denise Tennison and Brittany Harper at Byron Nelson High School look for innovative ways to prepare the student, while engaging them in the learning that goes beyond traditional test prep. What better way for students to learn question analysis than to create AP-level questions themselves. Futhermore, they stepped into the teacher role and used formative assessment websites, like Quizizz, Socrative, and Mentimeter, to create student-made quizzes with a future audience of their own peers. Talk about real world application, authentic audience, collaboration, and student choice - all wrapped up into one!

This task’s purpose was multifaceted as it aimed to 1. Analyze Othello, and 2. Apply knowledge and syntax of the 12 English Literature and Composition Question Types. Specifically, it challenged students to CONSTRUCT AP questions in order to be more prepared to DECONSTRUCT them on the exam as it will be easier to answer high-level questions if students have an understanding of how they are originally developed.  

Project Instructions:

In the past, this project stopped at Step #4 above in which the student solely created the questions on a collaborative Google Doc. Although these did provide a sample set of study questions, they weren’t interactive, thus many peers read over them without truly applying their thinking to answer and engage with the content. Furthermore, there wasn’t an authentic audience since it was simply a paper turned in to be graded by the teacher. To provide a more engaging experience and incorporate student choice, Tennison and Harper brainstormed applicable product choice websites using the Tools that Make IT Click resource to identify a set of options that would work well for this assignment.

Benefits of designing student choice lessons with multiple tool options:
  • Students have power over the tool they chose.
  • They are more engaged in the process because they were able to break out of the “one-size-fits-all” approach in which every students' experience is identical.
  • Students can apply prior experience with tools they have used in other classes to understand which tool most appropriately applies to their content.
  • Neither the teacher or students need to be “tool-expert.” There are so many resources that are Google-able to understand how a tool works; plus, students typically are able to figure site features out quicker than many adults.
  • If a tool doesn’t fit one groups’ needs or isn’t as easy to understand, just pick another platform!

Example #1:
Students: Cavnar, Dumble, Felten, Pham, Cobb, Hinshaw
Formative Assessment Tool: Socrative
Play along HERE! Room Name: CAVNAR

Example #2:
Students: Edwards, Ye, Holt, Plocek, Mauer, Young
Formative Assessment Tool: Quizizz

Students’ feedback on this project was very positive. Because of the collaborative group nature, these teachers overheard really good conversations taking place as students discussed Othello, compared the 12 question types to best assign various formats to their content, and wrote a challenging question and designed relevant distractors. When it came time to enter these into the formative assessment site, students were able to collaborate in discussing their prior experience with various sites as they weighed the benefits and downfalls of each in order to connect the best type of tool to their content needs. Additionally, they were able to design the type of experience they would most like to participate in such as choosing sites that use gamification, whole class/group vs. individual quizzes, and embedded opportunities for detailed student feedback. The final products will support students two-fold: allowing the student to be the “teacher” in designing the content, as well as letting the student be another peer's student by taking each other’s assessment’s now and in the Spring to prepare for the exam. Adios traditional, boring test prep!

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