Quick Quizzes – How Often?

I weigh Quick Quizzes at 65% of the overall grade and jGR at 35% – those numbers work for me. I would like to share in this post how often I enter grades on Quick Quizzes:

My take is to do as many as I can. Two per week minimum. But I see the wisdom of being aggressive with more, up to four per week, in the first half of each grading period. Just to keep them in line.

The pattern in my school – and we in this group all are in vastly different settings – is that the kids slack off early in each six week grading period. It is urban class cutting madness in my school. Many kids work until 1:00 a.m. so I can’t blame them.

My classes, since I am half time, are usually in the afternoon. The kids don’t come to school much in the afternoon. They have learned to game the system. So if I start out in that early part of the grading period by giving up to four daily quizzes per week I can establish a grade that reflects how slack most have been.

I hope I am being clear here. I need to use grades to keep control of my program. We all do. Then when the kids show up half way through the grading period ready to fix their grade like they do in their other classes, with a smile and asking if they can write a paper or do some other extra credit work to “bring up their grade” I say no and they have to then show up for class the last three weeks and work hard at the CI process.

But we all teach in different schools so that may not apply to you. But that’s what I do, four a week early, one or two a week toward the end of the grading period. My work load goes down at the end of each grading period where for most teachers it goes up.

No projects, no homework, no big tests. Ever. Unless they want to do homework by listening to a French song on YouTube, which many do because I don’t make them. Projects, homework and big tests are crazy and make teachers crazy and are unnecessary in CI classes. They are next to useless in terms of language gains.

The kids have to be in class to learn the language and so I grade based entirely on their being in class. Simple, effective, low maintenance.

But I do have to do the Quick Quizzes. Hey I don’t have to write them – the Quiz Writer does that during class, and the scantron machine in the teachers lounge has become my friend. Quick Quizzes are low maintenance. And, ironically, they are the best indicators next to jGR of what a kid is actually doing in class.

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6 thoughts on “Quick Quizzes – How Often?”

  1. I haven’t had access to scantron machines so I’ve always just done trade-n-grade. I now have access to scantron but I’d rather not waste all of that paper, I always re-use and recycle scrap paper so that’s probably what I’ll continue doing.

    We also have something called GradeCam now.

  2. Hey,
    Hope this is the right place for a question. So, with the quick quiz, I read from Ben that he wants it to be easy, nothing motivates like success. (I agree) I am anticipating that my “hard-work”/Rigor mentor will not like the word “easy”. Any language I can use that will make it sound “hard”? They also love the word “comprehensive”. My mentor told me that 10 t/f statements is not comprehensive and I kind of felt as if I was being judged as someone looking for the easy way out. I want teaching to be relaxing and connecting. Does it have to be so hard to be comprehensive?

    From your post: “No projects, no homework, no big tests. Ever. Unless they want to do homework by listening to a French song on YouTube, which many do because I don’t make them. Projects, homework and big tests are crazy and make teachers crazy and are unnecessary in CI classes. They are next to useless in terms of language gains.”

    I agree!! Where can I find research that supports the uselessness of those things in language gains? I need a good offense.

    Thanks!!

  3. I’ve said before: “There is one simple test to determine if an English class is effective: if students say that English class is difficult, then the class is ineffective.” But someone who doesn’t understand how acquisition works won’t ever understand this. Acquisition is not hard and everyone can acquire.

    The language you use to talk about the quizzes and jGR can make them sound “rigorous.”

    The quizzes are an excellent way to keep kids accountable for class time. They are comprehensive in that the questions reflect all of what was done that day. You can count dictations and speedwrites as quizzes.
    The jGR requires kids to respond verbally or gesture constantly to everything the teacher says. We assess every moment. We focus on the process in order to best take advantage of instruction time.

    We waste little time on output-oriented assessments, which won’t lead to development of more language (only +/- confidence).

    Reminding students we don’t have homework and tests can refocus them on in-class time. If we give homework, then it should be input-based and/or else increase confidence. Last semester, I didn’t give any homework or tests. This semester, students have to read TPRS readers of their choice and they just rate each book and explain why, a la Hedstrom “Light Book Report.”
    4 books for an A, 3 books for a B, etc. I’d really like students to re-read class stories/movietalks at home. To promote this, I’m contemplating next semester giving “big tests” – just reading comprehension tests based on all the readings we have done until that point. Or I could assign POV rewrites or essential sentences, which get the kids reading.

  4. Melissa,
    Part of what I stumbled into over the years–even pre-CI–was that kids generally are way too overloaded either physically / literally or mentally/emotionally. So, when it came to homework, the reality was that kids were just checking it off the list in one of many ways, none of which had a shred of attention or consciousness to it, let alone value to the language acquisition process.

    Some examples: “actually doing the work “(meaning plugging in their headphones and texting friends, watching TV, etc. while filling in the blanks of a worksheet; “working together” on the homework in study hall (ie, one person did it and others copied); filling out the sheet in the 5 mins before class, on the bus, etc. The point is, there was no engagement with the assignment other than to get it done in order not to get penalized. Obviously, the type of work makes a difference, but really, if they have sports and band and play practice after school OR if they are helping to support their families by holding down multiple after school and weekend jobs and/ or childcare for younger siblings, etc. it is all they can do to get their English composition written, math homework done, science lab written up, history project, etc. The picture of “after school” as open free time is seriously warped and I feel like it went extinct in the 80s. I also feel really strongly that too much emphasis on homework penalizes kids who have no home support. Not that kids w/o support don’t git’er done…but the playing field is tilted.

    This does not answer your plea for research-based evidence about homework / projects. But I think these realities are worth considering. Cheating and plagiarism has risen exponentially and one big reason for that is that students are overburdened.

    I would go back and re-read Robert’s stuff on rigor…try to tease out some arguments from that. What we do in our classrooms is so rigorous that most non-CI ppl can’t handle it. It is really tricky to point this out because as a culture of ppl whose glory is found in being busy, multitasking, etc. It’s a difficult mirror to look into. I sometimes point out things like “become aware of what is actually happening in math class, history class, a committee meeting…nobody is practicing rigor in terms of attention and focus. Generally you will see side conversations, texting, online shopping, grading papers or doing other work…etc…in any forum in which people are gathered. I can’t think of another place in a school besides a CI classroom where this type of rigor is being taught.

    So yeah, go back to that State Department stuff from Robert and you should be able to apply some of those statements to the actual acquisition process. You might also check out Stephen Krashen’s website for case studies on some of this.

    BTW…side note…I found the same thing as Ben. When I did not “assign” homework, kids often sought out stuff on their own and would bring it to class because they were excited about it…songs, websites, youtube videos, etc. THAT is legit “homework” because they explored freely, guided by their innate curiosity!

    That said, there is a way to assign homework that makes it their choice. You assign a number of minutes per week of “individual input” or whatever you want to call it. I did this 2 yrs ago when i first started CI. It was a big hit with kids. All they had to do was spend x minutes per week exploring L2 that was interesting to them. We brainstormed in class and came up with a list of suggestions, then if a kid was having a hard time I would help individually. Re-reading any class stories or novels was always an option.

    Then they would share that in a journal entry 1x week…what they did, whether they thought it was helpful to them or just “fun.” The difficult thing is that it is hard to find things at the right level…most is NOT comprehensible so doens’ t really qualify as CI but I let kids have free reign because then when they tried to watch a dubbed movie or something they would realized “whoa I didn’t get anything out of that.” So it also taught them the value of trial and error and understanding where they were on the spectrum.

    Sorry for the ramble / tangents!
    🙂

  5. Ask your mentor to come in for a class and experience one of those Quick Quizzes at the end of class. Your mentor will have to agree that the quizzes are quite rigorous and that they require the student to sit in class and listen hard for 45 minutes before taking the quiz. The reason the quizzes are easy in the ten question yes or no format is because of all the hard work done leading up to them.

    The fact is that your mentor doesn’t understand what rigor is in language acquisition. It goes back to how language acquisition is effortless when the message and not the words is the focus. We went through this in a big way here on the PLC a few years ago here and came up with a bunch of articles/statements about rigor that are now housed in that PLC category.

    You may want to read around in there and forward some of the material to your “mentor” so that she can see how all we do is about rigor, and that what she considers to be rigorous is not:

    https://benslavic.com/blog/category/rigor/

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