Posts Tagged ‘text’
Memorial Day was my day of work. I didn’t get much work done.
However much I racked my brains, I had tried and failed to brainstorm good multiple-choice questions. However long I stared at Microsoft Word, satisfactory test items just didn’t come. Then, an idea.
Inspired by a faint memory of one of my high school teachers, I decided to let my seniors write their own test questions for this semester’s pass-the-class-in-order-to-graduate cumulative final. Having students write hypothetical questions about course content is an excellent review activity — that’s the main impetus behind a local iteration of Cornell Notes, at least.
I gave them a short primer on effective test questions — make the question a complete sentence, have all the answers about the same length, no silly answers — and a list of a few topics I’d like questions written about. I warned that only the very best questions would make the cut.
At the very least, it was an excellent way to gauge which students needed help understanding the content, and who was doing just fine. I could then intercede on their behalf and give them a little nudge in the right direction.
There was a range of questions, including fact-recall:
22. What are the names of three major Federalists?
a. Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson.
b. Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Patrick Henry.
c. John Jay, James Madison, George Washington.
d. James Madison, John Jay, Alexander Hamilton.
There were some questions with a little bit of higher thinking:
5. In which system of government do states have more power than a national government?
I rewrote most of the rest to make them a little bit more challenging, or edited them for style errors.
Of course, I had a few questions that certainly didn’t make the cut.
xii. What are names of the two houses of Congress?
a. Executive, judicial.
b. Legislative, Supreme Court.
c. Judicial, executive.
d. White House, Pentagon.
In case you don’t know American government, this doesn’t even include the correct answers. Considering who giggled as I read that question, it’s safe to say that this was a joke, but just to be sure, I walked that whole section of the class through the names of each house in our bicameral duplex of a legislature.
Just plain silly made an appearance, also.
vi. Why am I so sexy?
a. My style.
b. My looks.
c. My hair.
d. The way I talk.
The student who wrote this question made sure to ask me the next day what I thought of it. I hesitated a bit, and then told him, jokingly.
I’m not going to put it on the test. It had a false premise.
After two minutes with a dictionary, he laughed out loud.
The book contains mini-biographies of each never-president — the author calls them Also Rans — and a rundown of each of their runs for president and a final section that compares them to the man who did ascend to the presidency.
Owning to the nature of lifetime political careers, the biographies can help my students review the major political issues over time, and, better yet, they put a personality behind the portrait and name they see in their book.
Horace Greeley help found the Republican party following the death of the Whig party. He will never be on the Advanced Placement test, but knowing that the journalist was so disgusted with the graft and incompetence of Ulysses Grant that Greeley accepted a Reconstruction-era Democratic nomination reviews the following information:
1. Former Whigs were the earliest Republicans.
2. Ulysses Grant’s administration had legendary graft and incompetence.
3. Reconstruction was so hard on the mostly Southern Democratic Party that a founder of the Republican Party was nominated in its ticket.
Though the reading level is a little high for lower-level students, I love the book for it. He closes a section on Henry Clay with this jem.
He blamed his defeat on fraud, foreigners, Catholics, abolitionists, Tyler-ites, renegade Whigs — on everything except the life, career and character of Henry Clay.
William Jennings Bryan was even better liked.
His mind was like a soup dish, wide and shallow; it could hold a small amount of nearly anything, but the slightest jarring spilled the soup into somebody’s lap.
When I teach AP U.S. History, this book will be transformed into copyright-infringing packets.
I’ll buy my own reams, if I have to. I’ll probably have to.
Moral of the story? Teachers know their subject can be interesting, and an outside text hammers that point home.