My biology students have a unit exam tomorrow. All the biology teachers at my school give students a common exam, so even though multiple choice tests are not my favorite way of assessing student learning, it is what I have to do. Multiple choice tests don't always test for higher order thinking, but to prepare for the exam, I had my students engage in meaningful discussions about practice multiple choice questions this past Friday.
I took 10 multiple choice questions that were similar to the exam questions and put them in a Socrative student paced exam. Students used one iPad per group of four and they answered the questions together. But instead of just answering the questions, they had to discuss (and write down on notes paper) the question, the answer they chose, and the reason they chose it. I also had them write down the three other "wrong" choices and they had to discuss and write out explanations on why they were the wrong answers.
As I walked from group to group, students were recalling skills they learned, explaining concepts to students who didn't understand the material or question clearly, and really engaging in the material. I didn't allow them to use any notes, so they had to rely on each other. It was great to hear them debate the answers and back up their thoughts with evidence from the labs and activities we did during the unit. And then they were able to see the correct answer and check if there thoughts were correct. I think this activity was the best part of the assessment that they will take tomorrow in class. I was able to hear meaningful conversations, see where students still had misconceptions, clear up confusion and help guide the students in what they still needed to review.
This is one of my favorite reviews I have done in the last ten years and I will try it again for my next and last unit of the year.
*Want instructions on how to use Socrative, visit my previous blog post.