How do we get students to actually read the
required text? That’s a common question in literature courses and today I’m going to
cover one tip I have in order to accomplish this. Hey there and welcome
back to my channel. I’m Erika from Ever Educating and today I want to talk about
one aspect of the blog post that I wrote on today’s topic of student
accountability in the classroom. Alright so, if you’re interested in that blog
post that topic overall, it is linked below in the description.
But in my video, I’m gonna focus specifically on giving reading quizzes
because I do think that there is certain value to them. If it’s something that you
considered assigning or you’ve tried assigning with little success. Okay so, I
don’t always give reading quizzes, but I do think they have a value in the classroom
and I want to go over how I actually design them in order to get that to work.
Right, because getting students to actually do their reading before class discussion
can be very hard, right. And it can also be hard for students to see the
value of reading quizzes. They often see it as busy work and they get frustrated
with them right. And so in designing them, I try to make them as useful as possible
to both the student and to me as the instructor. So let’s kind of get into how
I design these reading quizzes. And the first element is of course based off how
you design your reading load, right. So let’s say it’s common in my experience
to teach novels in two parts. So read the first part by Tuesday’s class and the
rest of it by Thursday. If you’re teaching two days a week, if you teach
three days a week maybe you do it in thirds. Okay, but to keep it simple, you read
half the novel for Tuesday, you read the half a novel for Thursday. Okay so, in
that case, I always assign the reading quiz at the beginning of those two days and
they combine together to create one overall quiz. So I asked five questions
on Tuesday, five questions on Thursday and I put it together of course for ten
questions. I make each question one point to make it simple for me so it’s out of
ten and it’s easy to just add a zero all right and make that out of a hundred.
if that’s the system you work with. So if they get eight out of ten, it’s an
80. Seven out of ten, it’s a 70, right. I do offer half credit, so sometimes I have
75s or 85s because they have 7.5 or 8.5. That’s up to you, right, so my first
tip is to have mini quizzes with these sections rather than having long quizzes.
When you’re teaching you know two days you don’t want to waste too much time on
the reading quiz itself, right, answering the questions, because you want to go
into I’m assuming a lot of class discussion and maybe some lecturing on the material. All
right, so first up have short quizzes that’s my first tip in designing them. But second and more importantly, you want to make sure the answers don’t have
to be too long because again you’re on a time limit, right. There’s only so much class
time that you have and you want to spend the bulk of it with actually discussing
and diving into analyzing your text. So in my case, I actually project
the reading quiz questions onto the projector screen rather than handing out
copies because I don’t want to waste paper. I know they’re not going to be
keeping these and remembering them because they don’t matter to the rest of
the assignments right because I don’t give exams in most of my classes. Okay so,
they’re helpful for the moment to kind of push them to read because they know they
have quizzes coming up right and they help for building the class discussion,
as well, but they don’t need to keep them. So I just had them answer them on
a sheet of paper from a notebook after I project them on the screen, okay, so the big
thing here, right, other than the number of questions you
ask and making sure your answers are short so it doesn’t take 20 minutes to
answer a reading quiz okay is how you actually design going over the answers
of them. And so this is my big tip, when designing reading quizzes. And that’s to go
over the answers on that same day right. Don’t collect them, grade them, and give
them back later and have them no longer be relevant. So let’s say you have five questions about Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone or Philosopher’s Stone,
which is one novel that I teach. So once they answer it, you collect them and
then go over the answers and have discussions based off of them. That way
students have immediate knowledge of why the questions were asked, right, and why
are they beneficial to consider when thinking of the novel. So for example, in the second half of the novel maybe your reading quiz for
Thursday, one question is what task does only Hermione solve when going through
the obstacles to reach the philosopher’s stone. So maybe they might say the
one about the devil snare, but more often my students mention the potions obstacle,
right. She figures out which potion will get Harry through the fire and which one
she can use to go back to get help and to make sure Ron’s okay. Okay so they
answer that question, I read that question aloud after the quiz finishes
and asked for an answer. There’s always a student who know right, it’s not like
none of them will know. If that’s the case, where no student knows the answer,
then that’s either a sign that you asked a way too specific question or it’s a sign
that they don’t really understand how to, you know, pick out and realize important
details, right, and so that can be a sign to you that you should take
some time to actually teach them how to read and really read closely and pick up
important parts to the plot or the characterization or whatever the case maybe. Let’s say there should be at least a few who know the answer, right, so they
say that out loud. And then, take the time to actually discuss it, right. So you’ve
asked this question on the quiz, they know the answer, at least some of them
did, now discuss it. So in my case, I would actually start by saying, “Okay good,
that’s one obstacle – or two obstacles if they gave both examples. What are the other
five or six?” And I list them on the board as they named them and then we’d
have a discussion about these obstacles and analyzing them as far as the whole
novel. Okay, once we did that, then I go back to next question on the quiz. “What’s
the answer to this question?” Someone would say it. “Okay, let’s discuss it. Let’s go to
that page in the book and kind of deeply analyze and close read, right. So that
kind of thing works really well to show students you’re reading quizzes actually
have a point, right, there not just there for busy work or to just be easy grading
for you. They’re there to actually make sure that
you’re understanding important elements and picking them out of the novel, okay,
and so that can be a double way for them to see you know why they should be
motivated to read before class. One, of course, for the grade in the quizzes, but
second, because they know the whole class discussion or at least a large
portion of it, depends on them doing well on the quiz to really be able to really
interact in the discussion. All right. And I always have participation as part of
my grade, my overall grade, so actually speaking in class or taking part in
discussion is important to them, right. And so you can have them give their
right answers to all five questions first and then discuss them individually
after that part. Or you can actually just go through the answers and discuss
them one by one until you reach the end. It depends on how you want to design
your class activities for the day. But that’s the key here, actually make
the questions and the answers valuable to that particular class period so they
see the point of these quizzes, but it also makes them read because they
want to do well on them, right, and on the class discussion. So to kind of wrap
up, keep your reading quiz short in number, but also shorten in the time it takes to complete
them. Make the math easy for yourself, ask five questions or ten total so it’s
easy to make out of 100 if you need to in your grading system, right. But then
make sure your questions are valuable to class discussion so that students can
see the point of taking them and why they’re not just busy work. And they
can also help you with your lesson planning, because once you know the five questions,
you probably know half an hour or 45 minutes of your class period is already
done as far as lesson plans go. So you can just ask a few more questions as
follow-up or you can leave that extra time for them to bring up their own
parts of the novel they want to discuss, right, wherever the case may be as far as
the rest of class design. You can have a good chunk covered just by having
well-designed reading quizzes to fall back on.
Okay so, again, I don’t always assign reading quizzes, maybe you’ll hold off
until you see that students aren’t reading enough, so you’re gonna push them
by having quizzes. But, if you do want to have this element of the class, this is
how I recommend designing it. And so, if you found this advice helpful I would
appreciate you clicking the like button below. Again, I do have a whole blog post
on more tips for student accountability in the classroom. It’s linked below. Other
than that, do subscribe to my channel if you want more teaching related tips in
the future. I’ll see you next week.

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