I have written in the past about the power of asynchronous online student discussion forums to facilitate knowledge sharing and higher order thinking. In this model, teachers post prompts connected to documents, links, or pictures and ask students to comment on the prompt and then comment on each other. I have been experimenting with another use for the discussion forum model, to facilitate student created review sheets.
The idea is rather simple. I posted the following prompt:
In addition to the requirement for all students to do this as a homework assignment, I also added a tangible reward as an extra incentive for students to work hard composing questions. Any student whose essay question appeared on the test would get 3 points extra credit. Then I waited for the questions to arrive.
This activity accomplishes a number of things.
- It requires students to use higher order thinking in their review because they have to evaluate all the possible essay questions that might be given and judge which ones to use.
- It creates an extra review sheet for students who need one. Usually my review sheet only contains important people, places, and phrases. This review sheet contains sample essay questions which can be very valuable especially for the more concrete thinkers who have difficulty coming up with essays on their own.
- It helps students practice metacognition. They have to "think like the teacher" about the learning process.
A few caveats,
- I would not give this assignment early in the year. Students need to take at least 2 tests with me to get used to my testing style and understand what constitutes a good essay question in Nach before they can start writing their own.
- Students can be very scared of this type of activity. I did receive some push back with students asking why they had to write essays since this is the job of the teacher. Therefore, one should give lots of hand holding, explanation in class of the assignment, and be flexible on due dates.
The test is Friday so I will see how this experiment goes. I am looking forward to reading the students answers to the essays, and their questions!