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17 March 2013

Exam rehash for 9th grade: open source quiz

Last year about this time I described why I never "go over" an exam, along with my own techniques for getting my honors students to use the exam as a study tool.  A couple of people made nice comments, including additional suggestions for student-driven exam rehashing.

Suffice it to say, we have an enormous long break after the February exam period.  In order to use the exam as a teaching tool, I have to do more than just explain the answer to each problem.  No one remembers the problems, everyone's seen his grade, the tendency is to want to forget about anything that was difficult in the hopes that that type of question will never show up again.  So I have to use required assignments to make students address the difficulties they had on the exam.

Based on what I've learned about the 9th grade attention span, a multi-day test correction assignment will likely not be effective.  However, quizzes seem to hold everyone's attention nicely.  What about a quiz over some of the exam problems instead of a homework assignment?  What if I give everyone a copy of the quiz ahead of time?  I'm much more likely to get solid preparation...

So, here's the quiz I'm giving on Tuesday, the first day back from break.  I sent this quiz in an email to the class folder.  Only one problem requires justification; I've randomized which problem in different sections, so they all know that they have to be prepared to justify all nine.

Here's the email to the folder.  Feel free to use this quiz in your own classes... after all, it's an open-source quiz.  But the requirements to (a) figure out the right answers, and (b) be able to justify any one of the answers make this quiz more than a mere exercise in memorization.


Hi, folks, welcome back.  We're going to start studying collisions on Tuesday, including a bunch of experiments I'm setting up now.

The first thing we'll do, though, is have a quiz based on last trimester's material.  The attached quiz is pretty much EXACTLY what you'll see in class.  You may look at it, print it, talk to people (not me or Mr. Tisch!) about it.  You'll get 5 minutes total; you must answer each question without justification, then I'll ask you to justify one answer, chosen randomly.

This should be an opportunity to get off to a great start for the third trimester.  You may pick up your exam from the box in my classroom.  The extra credit code word is "tomato."

See you Tuesday.

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