In observing some of my student teachers this semester, I noticed they were approaching in-class quizzes in some pretty traditional ways. In debriefing the lessons after observing, I kept wanting to explain how my friend and colleague Matt Kay has his students review their reading and prepare for quizzes. Luckily, Matt’s a great guy and agreed to type up his practice so I could share it here.
When he mentions SATs, that stands for Student Assistant Teachers. At SLA, seniors who have room for an elective in their schedule can sign up to be SATs and work as assistant teachers alongside those teachers they’ve connected with during the course of their high school experience. It’s a beautiful piece of built-in mentorship, and Matt highlights its possibilities here.
My classes are divided into Small Learning Communities that I call “Pods.” Each one has 3-4 students. In the first quarter, they are chosen at random, but for each quarter after that, they are created with a purposeful mix of ability levels and social observations.
These pods meet up the day after any assigned reading. The students walk into class and sit immediately into their pods. They then have 10-12 minutes to discuss the previous night’s reading, and the notes that they have taken the night before. I have found that the struggling students are far more willing to ask each other questions than they are to ask during whole-group instruction. When this time is up, the students move to their seats and take the quiz.
Right now, my student assistants are making the quizzes. They are all factual questions that are not answered in spark notes or cliff notes. (I assess richer understandings in different ways). The SATs come to class with seven questions, and I pick five while the pods are meeting. The SATs give the questions, then they grade the quizzes.