Active, Engaging Test Prep: The Walking Quiz

_DSC4991In my previous post, I talked about the importance of incorporating movement into classroom work and gave an example of one way to do that with an editing activity. In this post, I’d like to share a way to add movement when the class is reviewing material right before a test. It’s a strategy my co-teacher and I decided to use just recently, when our class came to the end of a challenging social studies unit.

With the test a few days away, we were looking for a livelier and more effective way to review the content than having students complete the end-of-the-chapter review questions in their notebooks. We’d done that for the last unit, and we weren’t happy with the number of off-task behaviors we saw: Students fidgeted in their seats, talked with neighbors, and only partially completed the assignment. They weren’t engaged, and they weren’t learning as much as we knew they could have—as their test results clearly showed.

We had a hunch that too much seat time was the problem, as it had been in similar situations recently, and we wanted to manage students’ off-task behavior proactively this time around. So we used an activity that would get students up and moving around the room while answering review questions.

The Walking Quiz

We’d already used our “Walking Quiz” to preview content—to teach vocabulary words or pre-assess a skill—and seen the physical and academic benefits it provided for our class. We thought it could also get students focused and engaged in reviewing content before their test as well. And it worked!

We began by reviewing our expectations for the activity. Then students wrote the numbers one through twenty on their answer pages. We set the timer for five minutes and the action began. To an outsider looking in, it may have looked like a chaotic classroom. However, students were active and engaged in reviewing the content. We noticed students moving around the room in an orderly way, working through the questions, and staying on-task, and we even observed some students smiling along the way! At the end of the activity, when we reviewed the answer sheets, we noticed that some students had circled particular words and ideas they wanted to review later that night. Most importantly, many of our students excelled on the test the next day. This activity was a physical and academic success! Here’s the how-to:

Walking Quiz

Preparation:
  1. Prepare question cards that emphasize current content:
    • On one side, write the number of the question.
    • On the other side, write the question.
    • Management tip: Use thick paper, like cardstock, and write the number of the question on one side. Then flip the paper over from the top edge (the edge you’ll tape to the wall) and write the question on that side. The question will be upside down relative to the number—which will make it right side up when students flip the paper up to read the question. (You might want to try it first on a sticky note.)
  2. Tape the question cards throughout the room with the number side up.
How to do it:
  1. Have students number their answer sheet for however many questions you’ve taped throughout the room.
  2. Give the following directions:
    • Students leave their answer sheet and pencil at their desk.
    • Each student walks throughout the room looking for question cards.
    • When students arrive at a question card, they flip it up, read the question on the back, and figure out the answer.
    • Students then return to their desks to record the answer on their answer sheet.
  3. Students continue this process until they’ve answered all questions.
    • Management tips:
      • Know your students—would it be better for them to discuss the answers with one another? Would students benefit from keeping a clipboard with them throughout the activity, rather than going back and forth to the answer sheet on their desk? Do what you know will work best for your group of students.
      • Students do not have to answer the questions in order. Encourage them to do the quiz by moving to question cards that are not crowded with other students.
      • Remind students to carefully record their answers next to the correct number on their answer sheet.
Variation:

Make sure you have as many question cards as you have students in your class. At the conclusion of the Walking Quiz, each student retrieves a card from the wall and takes it back to their seat. When reviewing the answers as a class, students take turns reading their question and calling on a classmate to provide the answer.

Tags: Engaging Academics, Movement, Testing

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