Switch: Fun Review Activity
Activity Objective: Students will review facts and concepts learned during a unit in preparation for a test.
Grade Level or Age Group: I have used this activity with students from grades 7 through 12. I have no doubt it can be used with younger students as well. I have found that this activity works equally well with the older students as it does with the younger ones. One very nice thing about it is that students really get into it and focus on the task at hand. It has never failed to quieten down even the rowdiest of my groups. The activity takes between 15 and 20 minutes - a bit longer the first time you do it because the process needs to be explained.
- A worksheet with from 25 to 50 items - questions and answers, fill in the blanks...
Prepare a review exercise on a single page requiring straightforward short factual answers. Any format will do as long as the answers required are fact based rather than subjective. There should be at least 25-40 answers to provide on one side of a sheet.
Divide the class into fairly equal rows of students, but these need not all have the same number of students.
Explain to the students the following directives and rules:
1. They will be handed an exercise sheet. It will be handed to them face down. They are not to turn it over until told to do so. They must not write their names on it, but a row number that the teacher will assign for each row before the sheet is turned over.
2. They will be "competing"* against all the other rows.
3. They must provide as many answers to the questions on the sheet they have in front of them.
4. They should write with a pencil.
5. They are allowed to work on any of the questions on the sheet in any given order.
6. They are allowed to correct answers already on the sheet if they believe that these are incorrect.
7. Every 1 minute** the teacher will say "switch" and the last student in the row will get up and bring his or her sheet to the first student in the row. Everyone else in the row will pass their sheet to the student behind them.
8. After 10 switches the teacher will give one last lap of time to complete answers.
9. On the signal "stop" students are to put down their pencils.
To mark the papers as quickly as possible and to give the students immediate feedback I used the following approach:
1. To mark the worksheets, students in one row exchange their sheets with students in the row beside them. If you have an odd number of rows, this process will have to be done twice for at least one row. In rows with fewer students there will be at least one student with 2 worksheets to mark.
2. Go over the answers with the students. They place a check beside correct answers and nothing beside wrong answers.
3. When marking is done, each student tallies the number of correct answer on the sheet(s) they have received.
4. For each row, the teacher or a student then writes all of the totals obtained by each student in that row.
5. Add the total number of correct answers in each row and divide by the number of students in that row (students with calculators can quickly come up with these). Jot down on the blackboard the averages of the scores obtained by the students in each row. The row that obtains the highest average is the winner.
You can obviously then provide the students with fresh copies of the worksheets to complete on their own in class or at home in preparation for the upcoming test.
* There is an element of competition here, but because the students work as a group rather than individually, I found that this approach was less threatening for students, even the weaker ones. They were not put on the spot in front of the whole class nor expected to produce beyond their own abilities. Each contributed what they could to the task at hand. I found that even the weak students were motivated because of this.
** If the worksheet were almost completed before the allotted time, I would shorten the intervals between "switches". I indicated on the blackboard how many switches had been completed. This helped to maintain a sense of urgency in the students.
©Gilles Côté, 2001. If you use this activity, please acknowledge your source.