After having students work on vocabulary review exercises from a workbook with partners of their own choosing, I gave a quiz. The 23 point quiz was a matching section of the Latin prefixes and their meanings, fill-in-the-blank, and a synonym section. Oh, and I gave the quiz on a Monday.
I thought the first section would be easy. It was just like one in the workbook, and it was the basis for the unit. Only a handful got it perfect.
The second section had a word bank and students used context clues to write the correct word in the sentence. I learned that some 9th graders do not know parts of speech very well. A word that ended in _ed is usually a verb, yet some kids placed it as noun.
The last section I call my Sesame Street Section. I had four words in a row. Students circled the one word that was not a synonym. Sing with me: Which one of these words is not like the others… Some students had difficulty because they did not know all four words. It probably would be like me trying to decide what three words are synonyms in German and which is different.
What the students and I learned:
1. Working with friends is fun, but not always productive. (I will be choosing partners in the future.)
2. If a student lets others do their work, the others do better on the quiz. (Some people are lazy.)
3. Besides knowing meanings of words, students need to know how they are used in a sentence. (This is taught, but not always learned or applied by the student.)
4. When asked if they studied for the quiz, about 60% said they did not. The others studied about 15-30 minutes the night before or in lunch. (Students need to take ownership of their learning.)
5. Quizzes on Mondays are not a great idea. (I will avoid them whenever possible.)
I did allow students the opportunity to earn up to 15 points extra credit by taking a Personification Vocabulary Test. Students would personify one of the vocabulary words from the unit. The exactly 50 word writing assignment would show the meaning of the personified vocabulary word with context clues. Students could write three personifications. It would take effort, but so did preparing for the quiz. Of course, about 40% of the students chose to do the assignment. I have to admit that I am disappointed in the lack of effort or care shown.
In the next few weeks, parents will be able to view grades on-line. I think I can predict how parents will react when they learn Johnny or Janie made a choice to not improve the grade. I know how I reacted with my own children.
- Professor Word – Identify SAT & ACT Vocabulary Words on Any Webpage (freetech4teachers.com)
- Starting a Vocabulary Box / Wordbag (teflgeek.net)