Let’s be honest. Tests are never fun, but they are necessary to check for understanding. Teachers typically have a wide variety of resources when it comes to finding tests. Some districts provide them based on standards and expectations. You can even find them readily available to copy from whatever curriculum you use. Many times, teachers generate their own assessments for their students. Now, all these resources are definitely beneficial, generally well-written, and are expected to cover various standards. Have you ever thought to have your STUDENTS create the test? How does this even work? Will their questions be acceptable? How do they know what standards to cover? Is this even beneficial to the students?
During my first year of teaching, this is what I decided to do. With just a little preparation on my part, my students were excited to get started! I was teaching third grade and at the time, was just a few weeks away from our state test. Since the beginning of the school year, we went over test-taking strategies so they would be confident and prepared for the actual test. One day, we were discussing different types of questions that they may stumble upon and generated an anchor chart with various types of questions – multiple choice – true/false – fill in the blank – short answer – extended response, etc. Well, what better way to apply that knowledge to making a test of their own. We were nearing the end of our Earth Systems unit and I decided that the students would contribute the questions.
So, one afternoon, I dug out all of the sentence strips I had that contained all the standards for the unit that I typically had displayed on the board during my lessons. As a class, we went through each standard and briefly summarized what they meant. Then, I put up our anchor chart of the question types for the students to reference. I let the students know that we were going to create a test as a class and everyone will contribute 3 questions. Form those 3 questions, I chose one from each student to include on the test.
I then passed out 3 notecards to each student and instructed them to write their name on one side. On the other side, I asked them to choose 3 different standards to create a test question for. In addition to coming up with 3 different questions, I wanted them to use a different question type on each notecard. Students were able to use their textbook and notes as a reference. Once they finished writing the question and possible answer choices on one side of the card, I had them write the answer on the back. Let me just tell you that they were SO excited to create a test themselves! They worked so hard to come up with good questions that wouldn’t be too easy to answer.
Now, I collected everyone’s notecards and looked through them at home to find a variety of different questions, while making sure I chose one from each student. After I selected the notecards I was using, I just organized them and typed it up. A few days later, I gave the students the test and let me tell you – you should have seen the faces they were making when they found their specific question.