Time for a pop quiz!

A little while ago, my students’ knowledge of morphology was frustrating me, even though we might drill it daily in class. This practice takes time away from practicing how to translate, which is really what they want and need more experience with. So, I decided to inject more uncertainty into my students’ lives.

I like transparency, so I liked to tell my students exactly how and when they would be assessed. When I saw this was not working as well, I was up front with them and explained that I wanted them to learn it better and retain longer-term memories of morphology rather than cramming the night before or hour before class. Therefore, I made these changes and want to maintain them where possible:

  • For my upper school Latin 2 class, they would know exactly what their morphology quizzes would look like, but they would not know when they are coming.
  • For my seventh grade, introductory class, they knew when their quiz was and I made two forms of the quiz with two slightly different focuses. At the beginning of class, I flipped a coin and that chose the form of the quiz for that section. A quiz with the over focus might come later, or it might not–a coin toss would choose between two more forms.
  • I have indicated that I could do a pop quiz on any old material that I want to assess. While they have not received one of these quizzes, it does seem like the time for it may be due.
  • Vocabulary quizzes are still straightforward with a known date and format.
  • Students’ quiz scores have generally improved, and I feel more confident in their knowledge of these forms. This strategy does seem to be encouraging what I hope students are doing: regular review of their forms at home.
  • Student reaction to this change has been mixed. A few have attempted to game the system, but I reassured my seventh graders that I have enough forms of the quiz that they cannot game it. A few like that their quiz is chosen by a coin, a few find it odd. Most upper schoolers have predicted the day of the pop quizzes. When I explained that I would continue my experiment with pop quizzes, a few students’ faces showed their disappointment, but I can tell they understand why I’m making this change.

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