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The test is over. There are looks of relief in your students’ eyes, but the panic begins in your chest. Did they do well? Did they understand the concept? You grade as quickly as you can and hand back papers. The questions begin and the students chat comparing answers. There is never enough time for you to sit with each student and explain why they received points off or why A is more correct than D.

Here are some ways to review a test that I have found work very well:

1. The document camera. Put the test up on screen and mark up that test. Show them HOW to dissect the question. Highlight key components and question stems. Explain WHAT the question is asking and why this answer is best. I know it takes a bit of time, but if you have a class of twenty students and a twenty question test, you can let each one get up and explain a question. Most students have a least one question right on a test. Ensure that each student gets to teach a question they got right. During your bell-ringer, write down the test question they are expected to “teach” on a stick note and place it on the desk. If some shift uncomfortably, say but you got this one right. You got this. Let them go up one by one with the sticky notes, highlighters, and confidence.

2. Share student work. I take off the name of the student and place the paragraph on the document camera or Promethean board. I let the students grade the paragraph on a scale of 1-5. I make them hold fingers. This allows you to see what the students think a “five” or a “three” paragraph looks like. I always find a positive element and a negative element. I write all over the paragraph showing where more details could be added or what I loved about it. If you teach several classes, you use a paragraph from first block for third block, to avoid embarrassing a student, but most of my kids love it because I make sure to gloat on a positive element.

3. Louisiana Hold’em. Or whatever state you are in hold’em. Last summer I went to an amazing AP training and our instructor gave us this technique. If you gave a long test, say 30 questions, divide up students into groups of 6. Give each group 5 questions and together they decide on the “right” answers. As they present their correct answers, the rest of the students check their original answer. If their answer is different, they say “hold.” If more than five students say hold, the group has to explain why their answer is correct. After every group has gone, you can give the correct answers quickly and correct any wrong explanations.

4. After school corrections. I allow students to come after school and correct tests for half credit. If the question was worth two, and they correct the question and receive one point towards the overall test score. There is a catch, they have to find the textual evidence to support the new answer. It ensures they are learning the material and using the text to support their answer. It does take time, but chances are you are staying after school anyway to grade, why not let them come? I never force them to come, but if a student really wants a better grade, they will.

Once you see WHY students are getting answers wrong, you can steer them in the right direction, but you won’t see why they are getting answers wrong unless you review a test and let them show you. It is really reverse learning opportunity for you.

Alice has been teaching for fourteen years. She currently teaches English I, English III, English...

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