Monday, July 15, 2013

“Deal or No Deal” Quiz

This is a fun in class quiz activity that can be used for any subject area or content.  It is different for every class and the kids hardly feel like it is a “real” quiz.  I set it up as a real quiz in terms of telling them to get prepared (study).  If they think it is a game ahead of time they don’t take the prep time seriously.  So basically I tell the class “We are having a quiz on ___ day”.  Then the day of the quiz I set up the “DEAL or NO Deal” format. 

I got this idea from a drug education grad class I was in where the professor would give a one question final exam for 100 pts!!  It sounded awesome at the time but then when I was taking the quiz it was nerve racking!!  You still have to prepare for anything; essay, true-false, short answer, multiple choice, fill-in the blank, etc … we had NO idea what the question would be or in what format.  I was hoping for an essay question because I had a “BS” in Vocab arts …. ;-) but the day of the exam came and we got our ONE
question … I was a nervous wreck.  The question was “What is the most widely abused drug in the US?”  A ONE WORD answer for a 100 points … uhhhgggg.  Talk about second guessing myself.  Let see … most powerful … no …. most addictive … no …  most popular … no … most prescribed … no ….. ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.  The answer …. Did you guess it???    Caffeine!     Yes, I did get it right but it was stressful.  There was a lot of processing that had to go on for me to write that one word down.

I have never forgotten that experience so I thought "how could I bring that type of assessment into my classroom?"  I was inspired by Deal or No Deal!
I have 9 white envelopes each with a number 1 – 9 and the envelopes are numbered 1 - 9.  I have the numbers randomly mixed.  

I also have 12 manila envelopes in order at the front of the room.  In 8 Manila envelopes I have a piece of paper with a content question.  Some are T/F, essay, multiple choice, listing, ordering, etc.  The other five manila envelopes have a piece of paper that states one of the following:

  • “free 5 points”
  • “free 10 points” but choose 2 more envelopes
  • Pick two more envelopes
  • Pick three more envelopes

The kids have a max of 8 content questions they might get.  Each piece of paper with a question on it has the point value for that question.  Some groups only get one question and it might be the free 10 points?  In that case the class just got 10 extra credit points.  Some classes get 8 full on questions?  We go through each question anyway but I explain that later.

The Activity:
I have the class take out a sheet of paper to take the quiz on.  I choose one contestant (usually a pretty confident student that is well liked in the class).  There is almost no strategy to this activity it is all just chance.  I then hand out the WHITE envelopes to 9 students in the class and tell them NOT to look inside them and hold them up.  I have
the contestant then choose ONE white envelope.  I place that unopened envelope on the front table for all to see.  I say to the contestant “That is your envelope”.  I then have the contestant choose another WHITE envelope.  And I give them the envelope to hold.  (Here is where I build up suspense) I say:

“Do not look into the envelope yet.  Inside this envelope is a number and that number will represent the number of MANILA envelopes you will choose.  Inside each MANILA envelope is either a question or free points.  Now, only you (the contestant) can look at the number inside your envelope and decide if we have a DEAL or NO DEAL …. If you choose DEAL, then you will pick that number of MANILA envelopes and the quiz begins; if you choose NO DEAL then you will close your WHITE envelope and pick another WHITE envelope from the crowd … BUT … if you choose NO DEAL & you pick a different envelope you will no longer have a choice to choose again, whatever number is in THAT envelope will be the number of MANILA envelopes we will pick.” 
Then I would have the contestant choose the white envelope and look inside to see what number they got and decide, on their own, if we have a DEAL or NO DEAL. 

If they say “DEAL” (Usually a low number) we show the number to the class and the student picks the appropriate number of Manila envelopes, gives them to me and goes back to their seat.  I will then open and read the questions or information in the envelope basically like an in-class oral quiz.  I just jot down how many actual questions and points each class received since they will all be different.

Now, if the student says “NO DEAL” (usually a high number) they select a new white envelope from the crowd and just before they open it I throw in the “twist”.  I say:

 “Now … before you open that envelope and reveal your number we have ‘your’ envelope sitting right here (referring to the envelope sitting on the front table for all to see).  I will give you the opportunity to switch envelopes?  You can keep the one you are holding in your hand now OR go with the envelope you picked at the very beginning.  Either way we go with what is IN that envelope.  Now, are you going to keep the envelope in your hand or switch and go with ‘your’ envelope on the table?”

The suspense and pressure is crazy at this point.  Kids in class are yelling different things .. “Switch don’t switch ….. “.  I tell the contestant to ask the
class what they should do so any “blame” is on the class too ;-).  Then once the student chooses I reveal the number in the envelope that they DID NOT choose (It is either a cheer or a groan?).  I like to remind the students at this point that they all were part of selecting the envelope so we all share the pain or glory of what is in the chosen envelope.  I reveal the number in the envelope they DID choose (again a cheer or groan) and then have the contestant select the appropriate number of Manila envelopes and continue with the oral quiz.

I usually just grade them in class and have them grade their own quiz.  Regardless of how many questions the students answer for a quiz, I go through each envelope and we answer the questions in a discussion format so the information is “quizzed” either way.  I like to then shuffle all the envelopes so kids don’t start spreading the word on which ones to pick.

It is a fun way to quiz the kids and it is fun to see them get all fired up over choices.  Depending on the units I use this format in, I use it as a teachable moment to talk about life choices and sometimes it works out well and other times we have to just muscle through it and try to prepare as best as possible.  Some kids will say “I didn’t care because I knew all the stuff anyway so whether it was 1 question or 10 questions it really didn’t matter.”  

Some didn’t study at all so they were hoping for the one T/F question I use that as an example about preparing yourself for the unknowns of what lies ahead & resiliency.  The kids who prepared for the quiz are way less stressed about how many questions or which questions get selected.  The pressure and stress level is low because they have prepared and are more resilient.  However, the ones who were not prepared have a higher stress/anxiety level and therefore have less resiliency because they are hoping on chance or luck to get them through.  The more prepared you are, the less stressful situations are and the more resilient you can be in any given situation.

It is amazing how a simple little quiz can generate so much excitement, anticipation and a teachable moment all in one.  You can take this and adapt it to any number of questions or content areas too.  You can change the types of questions, add in different “reward” cards, include different actions or demonstrations, etc.

See if your classes want to make a “DEAL” or not ….

Monday, July 1, 2013

Paragraph Puzzle: Using cookie sheets for more than just baking

The simple concept is to take a paragraph or explanation about whatever content you want and cut it up into incomplete phrases and have the students put the “puzzle” back together in a complete paragraph again.  This is not a new idea by any means but it is and easy & active way for kids to process information.  I add to the activity cookie sheets and magnet stick-ons to make it a little different.  You can use this for many different applications and content areas.  I do a number of different types of puzzle activities using the same basic principle.  This can be done either after watching a vodcast, classroom discussion, reading the
information online or in a textbook, etc. …  You could also use this activity as a problem solving activity prior to teaching the material to see if they can use context clues, prior knowledge or punctuation cues to put the “puzzle” together.   Either way the activity is simple.  

In this blog, I am using it as a review activity to explain the functions of the male reproductive system.  I also do this same type of activity for the female reproductive system, menstrual cycle and fertilization.  Sometimes I do all of them?  You could even do them in succession, when one puzzle is done they start the next one.  I typically do one at a time based on what we are covering in that time frame.

Set up:
I write up a paragraph explaining a process or information.  It could even be putting things in a certain order or step-by-step instruction.  I like to laminate
the paragraph so it is durable and reusable.   I then cut the paragraph up with scissors into strips of incomplete sentences.   On the back of each strip, I put a little piece of stick-on magnetic strip.  (You could even cut up old refrigerator magnets and glue them on??)   I buy the magnetic strip in a roll and it has an adhesive strip on one side.  .  I just cut a small square,
peel and stick it on to the back of the strip.  Once the paragraph is laminated, cut and magnetized I put the strips in a zip lock bag to store them in.  I then have Tupperware containers to store all the bags in for re-use.

I break the class in groups of 2-4 and give each group a cookie sheet and a bag with the magnetized paragraph strips in it.  I simply tell them to put the
strips back into paragraph form so it makes sense and reads correctly.  Depending on the group I will tell them the first and last strip to get them started.

Once they think they have the puzzle completed they simply bring the cookie sheet to me.  I am usually walking around checking on groups so the magnets are easy ways for them to bring their work to where I am rather than waiting around for me to get to them.  I simply read their paragraph and when I encounter an error (wrong placement) I simply turn that strip and say “you are correct up to that point” and back they go to re-work the rest of the puzzle.  Once they have it, I start using the members of that group to check the work of other groups and help groups that are struggling.  If I am helping a group and someone says “check mine”, I can simply direct them to a student that is finished to check it.  They simply do the same thing I did.  At this point it becomes a peer teaching activity too.  I may even have a couple students go to a struggling group and help them get “un-stuck”.

It works as a great activity.  Once all the groups are done I read the full paragraph aloud and talk about where people got stuck and talk about different clues they used to master the activity.  I do this kind of activity for multiple different content areas.  The kids like the magnets and it is an easy addition to a simple paper puzzle activity to make it a little different.  Plus the cookie sheets are portable so they can move it around and not mess up their progress.

Cookie sheets and magnets = fun times in class ;-)