Monthly Archives: September 2015
I am a firm believer in the idea that the “Chapter Review” or “Unit Review” is the student’s responsibility. After all, “review” means “to see again” and I’ve already shown it to them once.
So here’s what I do. I give all students access to the Chapter Review at the beginning of the chapter. As the chapter progresses, I point out which questions they should be able to to at this point.
When the chapter ends, my formal instructional obligation is complete. Now the review is their responsibility, as a class. And that is exactly how I present it to them.
In my class, I give two days for review. On the first day, students are required to make a video of the solutions to any three questions on the review. (There are usually 8-10 questions total on the review.) I advise them to use EduCreations to create their videos, or to post them on YouTube, since these two options have URLs associated with their videos. Once they have recorded their videos, students fill out a Google Form giving me their name, question number, and the URL to their video. They are to do this three times, once for every problem they solved.
After the first day, I compile a list of all of the questions that have been answered in video format, and sort them by question number. On the second day, I present them with a TinyURL that links to the entire list, and I tell them that they can watch any video to help them understand how to solve the problem, and they can watch as many different videos as they need to in order to understand it completely.
Why do I do this? Honestly, while I have complete confidence in my ability to explain the necessary concepts, I feel that, more often than not, students learn better from each other, because they speak the same language, even when they are talking about complicated math problems. I was worried at first that I would hear words like “stuff” and “things” and “this part over here.” Instead, I noticed that students like to use the right terminology as much as possible. In fact, they use proper terminology more than I do!
When I first introduced this method of review, the students were understandably nervous. Most of them, understandably, don’t like the sound of their own voice when they hear it in a recording. Others were unsure that they explained it properly, or even got the right answer. (I post all videos, by the way, because I believe it’s still beneficial to learn from others when they make mistakes.)
As the year went on, students got more comfortable with this idea, and even got creative with it. Sometimes they would alter their voice, speak with an accent, and find other ways to make their videos a little bit silly, but still informative.
This method or reviewing for tests has proven to be very successful over the past few years, to the point where I actually started including videos of former students for my current students to watch. (After all, it’s better to have too many resources from which to study than too few, right?) Students are now taking ownership of their review process, and they are no longer relying on me to re-teach them concepts before tests.
The results? Two years ago, 90% of my students passed the IB Math exams. This past year, 93% of my students passed the IB Math exams. To clarify things, IB students are scored on a range from 1 to 7, with 4 and higher considered to be a passing score. Here is a closer look at how these scores were allocated:
My job in the classroom on review days has shifted. Now I provide formative assessment on their process of studying from others. As I watch, they listen intently. They take notes. They rewind videos if they don’t quite understand part of the process. And when they just don’t understand, they move on to someone else’s explanation. This is a combination of high-level communication skills, collaboration skills, organization skills, and problem solving skills, all of which will prepare them for college and for their career.