Multiple choice practice is a staple of any AP class but can quickly become routine and dull and thus less effective for students. As teachers strive to provide opportunities for low-pressure practice, we should also dedicate ourselves to being creative in our approach in an effort to keep students engaged in learning and building skill. The result – students who are confident and prepared for the exam but more importantly mature readers and thinkers. Below are seven ideas to shake up multiple choice practice:
Activity 1 – Stations around the Room
Students work through a passage individually.
Have letters A, B, C, D, and E posted around the room. Students move to the letter they believe is the correct answer when reviewing the questions. Students can defend their answer and others have the opportunity to change their mind and move to another letter or stay and defend their answer.
Benefits – Students are able to hear each other’s reasoning and defense of an answer, students are able to change their mind, offers the teacher and students a visual of what percentage are with each answer, students are up and out of their seats.
Activity 2 – Pyramid
Students read and answer a passage individually.
Students divide into pairs and work through the questions concluding with one correct answer they each agree on. Repeat this process in quads, then octaves, and so on until the entire class can agree on a correct answer for each question.
Classes can compete with each other to see which class scores the highest. (Side note – students love competing for cookies, candy, or simply bragging rights. Last week my class competed girls against boys (ending in a tie), and we sometimes compete the class against the teacher (I take the fifth on sharing these results).
Benefits – everyone has a chance to use his or her voice, employs competition when going against other classes, students are able to hear and consider other positions
Activity 3 – Kick Me Multiple Choice
Students are given a passage and questions but no answers. Students read the passage and the questions. Students then hypothesize what the question is asking in small groups.
Working with a few questions at a time (determined by the number of students per class), tape answer choices on a student’s back. Students must not only determine which answer goes with which question but what the correct answer is.
Benefit – students focus on the stem of the question, students are up and out of their seats, fun
Activity 4 – Assigned Answers
Divide students into groups and assign each group a letter which their group will determine if their answer is correct. After groups have had time to work through the passage evaluating their answers, the teacher will lead the whole group through the passage asking each group if their group has the correct or incorrect answer giving the group time to explain their reasoning. If two or more groups believe they have a correct answer for a question, they will argue their reasons. If no one believes they have the correct answer, groups are asked to go back to the passage and find the correct answer.
Benefit – students are forced to justify why some answers are correct but also why some answers are not correct and consider other points of view
Activity 5 – Write Multiple Choice Questions
Working in small groups, students will take a prompt from either the poetry or prose essay prompt and write multiple choice questions for it. Students must include a variety of types of questions (big picture, sentence level, theme, tone, etc.). Distractors should be viable options.
Benefit – allows students to consider different types of questions and distractors
Activity 6 – Written Explanation of Multiple Choice Passage
Students will take the correct answers of a multiple choice passage and write an explicative of the passage as a whole. Students should introduce the passage giving an overall context then work their way through the questions explaining terms, answers, and providing text support for each answer.
Benefit – students are focused on the correct answer and forced to provide text support and reasoning for each correct answer
Two other suggestions:
Mondays are Multiple Choice Mondays in Room 128 where we dedicate time to MC practice. While we vary activities weekly, students record individual answers through Socrative (directions explained in the link). This allows student and me to keep track of individual progress.
Students break down their data even further with this sheet which allows students to look for patterns in their work and will help them know where to focus for exam prep.
Thanks to my APLit Voxer community for sharing ideas in a conversation this week. Please join us every Sunday evening at 9 EST for a Twitter chat for AP Lit teachers with the hashtag #aplitchat.