Are Review Days Worth Anything?

I really questioned it today. I felt like my lowest-skilled kids didn’t try, or just tried to copy down the “right answers” as if that would help them. The bright kids worked ahead or ignored me and it was hard to justify pulling them back in. There was a small group in the middle who asked good questions–but I feel like there are better ways to serve that small, self-motivated, not-quite-there-yet group than a full day of keeping everyone else busy while I can check in with them. And while I’m checking in with them other kids make farting noises or throw balled-up papers into the recycling bin.


5 thoughts on “Are Review Days Worth Anything?

  1. Andrew Knauft

    I felt the exact same way with my review day. I had extremely low engagement from most periods, and half way through I felt myself wishing I had put together more individualized pathways so the bright kids *could* work ahead and not have their time wasted by the students who weren’t interested in trying…
    At least your kids put the papers in the recycle — I’ve found too many pages left on or under tables in recent days!

  2. @JustinAion

    Review days can be tricky for exactly this reason. I’ve started having “practice tests” rather than review days. It’s easy for a kid to say “I know all of that” but harder to show it. If they fail a practice test, it shows them that they don’t actually know it. If they blow through it and do it well, they can work on stuff for other classes without having to worry that they are being rude.

    1. mrdardy

      Justin – Great idea, but I’d add a wrinkle here. I am on a crusade now to try and develop the habit of making the ‘big’ study night happen the day before the day before the test. Big test on Thursday = big review on Tuesday night. Then the practice test should be easier and more meaningful. I also wonder whether there is some ethical way to sort of bribe the kids into wanting to do well on the practice test. Some bonus for the real test grade or some reduction of what they have to do on the test? Maybe even the surprise weapon of canceling the test if kids do well enough on the practice day.

      Thinking, thinking…

      1. dkane47 Post author

        I really like both of your ideas. One possibility I’ve been toying with is this:
        I’m shifting to SBG starting approximately now (this test was the last one of quarter 2, and with a clean slate in quarter 3 I’m able to fully change my gradebook.)
        What if the first assessment is given without review. Students find out where they are. Then, there is built in time in class to re-assess. I’m giving lots of synthesis tasks in addition to SBG quizzes that require students to apply multiple concepts to one problem (i.e. analyzing how reflections across the x- and y-axes and rotations change the slope of a line.) If students mastered all the concepts, they move on to the synthesis tasks. Students who are reassessing will have the tasks assigned for homework (don’t feel awesome about that one).
        Then, review comes before the second assessment. The catch here is that kids with less motivation will struggle. I would want to be prescriptive with the review, and require specific things for students working on specific standards.
        Just brainstorming, still need to flesh this out. Thoughts?

  3. mrdardy

    My main thought is that the synthesis task as HW is not a winning idea – and you sort of know that already from your statement.
    HW, I believe, should be confined to more mechanical practice rather than thinking and analysis tasks. Save those tasks for the time you spend together. Obviously, this is somewhat dependent on the level of your students.


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