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13 May 2014

Exam review idea -- do corrections, and use the white board to keep track of them

Okay, I know I'm posting this too late for AP exam review this year... but we still have a couple of
weeks until our other classes take exams.  We're in full-on review mode.

While a review must take on multiple modes in order that the students don't get bored, I'm always partial to making corrections a major component of any cumulative review.  Keep assigning worksheets and practice problems, yes...  but in order for the review to be effective, students must get these practice items right.  As Boscoe Brown used to tell our marching band on a daily basis, practice doesn't make perfect -- perfect practice makes perfect.

I'm assigning practice problems both at night and in class now.  I'm grading every problem carefully.*  Then every three days or so we are taking time in class to correct everything anyone got wrong the first time.  

* Or, often I'm having a top student grade a problem set to a rubric rather than do the next set of problems.  That's more effective learning for the student grader than doing another set on which he'll get nearly a perfect score.

It can be daunting to keep track of so much assigned work.  And even the most honorable students will tend to "forget" that they haven't finished correcting everything they missed, especially if I look harried as I flip through a bunch of papers to figure out my records.

So, using a suggestion offered to me at a summer institute a few years ago, I created a list on the board.*  I write the name of the assignment, and then every student's number who needs to do a correction on that assignment.  In class, students use the board to figure out what they have to do -- no asking me necessary.  When I check off their correction, I erase their number from the board, often
to an audible sigh of relief.

*The person who suggested this to me actually called it a "Wall of Shame."  I'm certainly not using that term, 'cause I have no intent to shame anyone for getting a problem wrong.  But it is quite amazing to me how much harder students work at corrections when their mistakes are laid bare for all to see.  They want so desperately to erase their number from the board, because they do feel a bit of shame if their number appears way more than anyone else's.

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