Student-Led Learning: DIY Comprehension Quizzes

Jackie Rabinoff

Editor's note: Here's our friend Jackie R. from New York, developing a truly fun way to use Storyworks for formative assessment. We love when teachers come up with awesome double-duty ideas like this! It just might be the perfect way to blend student-led learning with formative assessment. Read on and give it a whirl in your classrooms.

Do your students’ parents ask for ways to study with their child? I usually advise them to have their child make his/her own test. Just the act of looking through the notes and creating questions insures that the material is being reviewed. I decided to use that philosophy for an activity in my class, but I took it a step further. Enter Storyworks.

Besides the formative assessment provided by the accompanying activities and writing prompts, I usually use the individual quizzes as well. This time I decided to have the students create their own quiz based on content from the February issue of Storyworks. Not only did this serve as an evaluative assignment, but it was an enjoyable, collaborative learning experience for the class.

I began by dividing my class into equal-sized groups (the number of students divided by the number of stories and articles in the issue). I assigned each group a different selection. I included every type: fiction, paired texts, nonfiction, debate, play, and poem. I then distributed a page I created with specific directions.

Each group was asked to create five Storyworks quiz questions for their designated piece. Each question had to be a multiple choice with four answers and an answer key had to be provided. I also asked each group to indicate the skill they were testing for each question (as does Storyworks’ answer key). I listed some suggestions such as vocabulary, cause and effect, main idea and supporting details, etc…

Creating these test questions gave my students the opportunity to close read for a set purpose and outcome. What better way to fully understand specific reading skills than to create test questions containing them? Not to mention that my students had so much fun trying to come up with challenging questions to stump their classmates. (Shhhhhhh, don’t tell them it was classwork with a precise objective—they thought it was a game!)

To culminate the activity I collected all the questions and answer keys and compiled them to create one cumulative test. I even typed up the same type of answer sheet I use for the regular Storyworks quizzes. My intention was to type the questions too, but we were hit with a blizzard and school was closed for two days. (Welcome to winters in the Northeast!) I used the handwritten copies and added extra credit if anyone could find any spelling or grammar mistakes—the age-old teacher trick when letting errors slip by!

Of course, this test-making activity can be used with any genre in any subject. It’s great for standardized test prep too. So next time you want your students to delve deep into their reading material, try turning the tables and have them make the test. They may just stump you too!




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