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How exam review prepares students for success

SmartBlog on Education will highlight summer learning and enrichment for educators during June. In this post, science teacher and technology advocate Shantel Popp shares a model for exam review, including the tech tools she uses to support her efforts.

During the last two weeks of the school year, my grade 7 and 8 classes gear up for their final exams. We use exam review in the middle school as a platform to prepare students for exam success before entering high school and beyond. However, in order to succeed on an exam, you need to know how to effectively write an exam. This is where I try and leverage technology tools for exam preparation and review.

First, my classes learn about the different sections of their exam in each class. We spend an entire class on multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, true-or-false and short-answer question types. Using my multiple-choice exam review class as an example, I’ll explain what students can do to be effective in their study routine. First, as a class, we record an Explain Everything video that breaks down tips and tricks for how to properly answer multiple-choice questions. This is more than just “re-read the question” advice, it is centered on finding details, looking for answers you know aren’t correct and understanding what “all of the above” means when you circle it! When the Explain Everything video is completed, we post it to Google Drive. This gives the students a chance to review it later when they’re studying at home.

The next thing we do is very student-centered. Students break into groups, and we use large white boards to create a variety of different multiple-choice questions based on the content of the units we studied during the year. Once these questions are completed, students go around and take pictures using their iPads of all the other groups’ questions. Then, they return to their original groups and use Notability to annotate correct answers onto all the multiple-choice questions. This same routine is continued for the other aspects of the exam, so students not only understand how to write an exam, but also are reviewing what to study at the same time.

Quizlet is another app worth sharing. It is free from the App store and students can generate matching, flash cards or fill-in-the-blank questions using content from their lessons all year. The students can then add their classmates to their Quizlet, and they can practice on each other’s quizzes. It is a bit of “game theory” where I allow my students to exam review in a way that feels like a game and is inclusive and fun for all.

Shantel Popp (@MsPoppScience) is a science teacher and technology advocate in Ontario, Canada. She has been a teacher at Holy Trinity School in Richmond Hill since 2012. With an avid interest in teaching with technology, Shantel continues to take courses, work with teaching partners and share ideas with other faculty.

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