Active Reading through Self-Assessment: The Student-Made Quiz
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While reading often feels like a solitary activity, teachers can introduce active reading strategies that are social to help students better comprehend their reading. This recurring lesson encourages students to comprehend their reading through inquiry and collaboration. They work independently to choose quotations that exemplify the main idea of the text, come to a consensus about those quotations in collaborative groups, and then formulate “quiz” questions about their reading that other groups will answer. By the end of this lesson, students will have a better understanding of what to focus on in their reading and how to ask good questions.
- T-Chart Printout: Students use this printout to gather quotations from a common text and write quiz questions for their peers.
From Theory to Practice
“One of the most important challenges a teacher faces is motivating his or her students to complete reading assignments and to complete them carefully…. The [Student-Made] Quiz offers at least five benefits:
- It provides the standard incentive to read carefully.
- It allows the teacher to give the students immediate feedback.
- It reduces the busywork of grading quizzes.
- It raises the quality of class discussion.
- It serves as a vehicle for collaborative, student-centered learning” (89).
This recurring lesson allows students to work together to better understand their reading by discussing its main ideas before they formulate quiz questions for their peers. These questions move beyond comprehension and test students’ understanding of the significance of the texts they read. The class can then discuss the answers together, providing another learning opportunity, rather than the teacher correcting the quizzes without student input.
Common Core Standards
This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.
This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.
NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts
- 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
- 2. Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.
- 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
- 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
- 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
- 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).
Materials and Technology
- A common text for students to read (any genre will work)
- This lesson uses “All Summer in a Day” as the model text, but can be adapted for use with a short story of your choosing.
- This lesson uses “All Summer in a Day” as the model text, but can be adapted for use with a short story of your choosing.
- Locate the short story “All Summer in a Day” online.
- Prepare a computer with Internet access and a projector so you can project the story “All Summer in a Day” for students while you read it aloud. (You might also choose to make copies of this story for each student so everyone can read along and mark on the story, but that’s not mandatory for this activity.)
- Make copies of the Example T-Chart for "All Summer in a Day" by Ray Bradbury and the Additional Example "So What?" Questions handouts for each student.
- Choose an additional common text for students to read individually before conducting this lesson. This may be a work of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry; but it should be challenging enough that students will need this in-class time to process it.
- Determine the main ideas of this text for yourself.
- Make copies of the blank T-Chart printout for every student.
- Make enough copies of the “Student-Made Quiz” form for each group to have one.
- read a text on their own and identify the text’s main ideas.
- brainstorm questions about the main ideas of the text.
- work collaboratively to come to a consensus about the text’s main ideas.
- formulate quiz questions in collaborative groups.
- answer quiz questions belonging to another group.
- Explain to the class that you’re going to read them a story as practice for a (and more complicated) reading assignment and activity that students will complete on their own over the next couple of days.
- Project “All Summer in a Day” (and pass out copies of it if you’d like), and tell students that you’d like for them to make a note of the main ideas or most important events as you read.
- When you finish reading, ask students what they think of the story in general.
- After they’ve had a chance to share general impressions, ask them to share what they think the main ideas of the story are. Write their answers on the board or chart paper.
- When/if students note ideas that aren’t all that important to the central meaning of the story, or if they miss some ideas that are important, ask the class to talk about each idea/event and explain why it is or isn’t important to the central meaning of the story. Be sure to point back to the story to specific passages as you discuss main ideas. Ask the students to record notes as you discuss.
- Ask the class to articulate what the central meaning of the story is and how they know. (Any answer that has something to do with human motivation, jealousy, the tendency to dislike what one doesn’t understand, or the tendency to want what others have is a good answer.)
- Give each student a copy of the Example T-Chart for "All Summer in a Day" by Ray Bradbury and the Additional Example "So What?" Questions handouts.
- Transition into introducing the activity: explain to the class that you are going to ask them to read a text on their own, make decisions about what the main ideas are, and write quiz questions about the main ideas. Explain that over the next two days, after students have read their text and completed their own T-Charts individually, they will work in small groups to write quiz questions for other members of the class to answer.
- Explain that when students finish reading the whole text, they will pull direct quotes from that text that seem to exemplify the main idea/central message of the text. After they’ve found 3 to 5 quotes that really seem important to the meaning of the text, students will write “So What?” questions, or questions that will require people to think deeply about the significance of the quote.
- Ask students to read the quotes and questions from the Example T-Chart for "All Summer in a Day" by Ray Bradbury and tell you why they are good quotes and questions. How do these quotes from “All Summer in a Day” exemplify the main ideas/central meaning of the story? How do these questions help you think further about the significance of these quotes?
- Give each student a copy of the T-Chart. Explain that students should label the left-hand column of the T-Chart “Main Idea Quotes” and the right-hand column “‘So What?’ Questions.” Ask students to choose 3-5 quotations from their reading that exemplify the main idea of the text. Then, have them ask at least one “So What?” question about each quote that might turn into a quiz question later.
- If any time remains, allow students to start reading their common texts in class. Students should finish their reading and their T-Charts before the next session begins.
- Explain that students are going to work in groups to come to a consensus about the quoted main ideas of their reading. They will need their completed T-Charts and the text they read when they move into groups. Encourage students to use the text and make notes on their T-Charts in a different color pen or pencil when/if they decide to revise their T-Charts so they can differentiate between new and old work.
- Put students in groups of no more than four. Give them time to discuss and come to consensus about the main ideas of the text. As they work, monitor their progress, but try not to intervene. You will have a chance to correct any mistakes next. (It is important that each group come to consensus because it will force groups to debate and reason out their answers.)
- Ask a group to volunteer to share the quotes from their reading that they think are main ideas.
- Ask the rest of the class if they agree or disagree. Have them explain their reasoning. Move to other groups, asking for their quotations and explanations for their decisions about the text.
- Tell the class when they have found the correct main ideas. If they don’t find them, present your own quotes from the text, and ask students to explain why these quotes are the main ideas.
- Give students the opportunity to share a few of the “So What?” questions they came up with on their own. List them on the board.
- Explain that some of the best “So What?” questions will not have one right answer or an answer that can be found in the text. Compare the students’ questions to those listed on the Additional Example "So What?" Questions handout, and discuss which of the students questions are strongest and how to revise them for clarity. (The goal is for students to formulate questions that will require their peers to think beyond the literal level of the text. Look for questions that ask “why” something happened; “how” it affects the text [tone or message] or characters within the text, reader, or external reality; and “what” students should take away from the text.)
- Ask students to turn in their T-Charts until tomorrow when they will use them to create their own quizzes about the reading.
- Return T-Charts to the class.
- Briefly review the characteristics of good “So What?” questions, reminding students to use the Example T-Chart for "All Summer in a Day" by Ray Bradbury handout as a guide.
- Also, briefly review the main ideas that the class came up with yesterday.
- Ask students to return to the groups they were in yesterday.
- Give each group one “Student-Made Quiz” form, and ask someone from each group to read the directions aloud to their group members.
- Answer any questions that the class may have before they begin to work in groups. (Remind students that their questions should focus on the main ideas of the text and that they should refer back to the text and their T-Charts for ideas.)
- As groups work together, move around the room to see what kinds of questions they are formulating. Help groups who have questions or who are having trouble coming up with questions that move beyond the literal text.
- When all groups have formulated five quiz questions, collect their “Student-Made Quiz” form and distribute them to other groups, making sure no group has its own quiz.
- Ask groups to use a separate piece of paper to answer the quiz questions as a group. (Each group should complete one quiz one time.)
- Have every group staple their answers to the back of the quiz they took, making sure their names are clearly marked on the answer sheet. (Every group should turn in one quiz and one set of answers.)
- Return each quiz with answers attached to the group who created it. Ask groups to read the answers to their quiz questions aloud to their group members. (You might want to ask students not to mark on the quizzes’ answer sheets.) Give them a few minutes to discuss these answers in their groups before they turn their quizzes in.
- At the end of class, for homework, or at the beginning of class tomorrow, ask students to write a brief reflection of this quiz experience. Use the following questions as a guide for reflection:
- Were you surprised by the way your peers answered their quiz questions? If so, why? If not, why not?
- What did these answers reveal about your peers’ understanding of the reading?
- What did these answers reveal about the quiz questions you asked?
- How did the practice of collecting quotes, writing questions, and discussing main ideas affect your reading?
- If you could do this activity again, what would you like to do differently next time and what should stay the same?
- With more time, you can go over answers to the quiz questions together as a way to discuss the text more deeply. Encourage students to reference the text as support for their answers.
- Using the Multigenre Mapper, students can relate to their reading in several different ways. Encourage them to write a review, a letter to one of the characters in their reading, an alternate ending, an imitation poem (if their reading was a poem), a letter to the editor related to something that happened in their reading…. The list goes on. This is a great way to help students analyze their reading using multiple genres of writing and illustrations.
Student Assessment / Reflections
- Every student must turn in a T-Chart with at least three quotations and three questions in order to earn full credit for completing this organizer.
- Students will earn full credit on the “Student-Made Quiz” form as long as every student contributed at least one question.
- Students’ final reflections will serve as an important assessment for this activity. It will help them think critically about their own learning as well as the learning of their peers, and it will also give you feedback about how the students feel about the activity, possibly providing you with ways to improve it in the future.