Friday, December 28, 2007

Podcasts, ipods, Jeopardy and Test Prep

I'm sure that just about every teacher has to endure a horrible phase of 'test prep' at some stage during her/his teaching year. However, this doesn't have to be a completely mundane and decontextualized experience.

Why not exercise a little creativity? For instance, to prepare for the listening sections of the New York State ELA test, why not make use of podcasts? At the moment, good podcasts for the likes of fables and narrative nonfiction are not easy to unearth, but worth looking for, or making yourself (to be shared with colleagues). You could take a look at the Biography Podcast though. Using podcasts for read alouds enables you to model notetaking for the students, or observe the students' listening behaviors.

Similarly, companies like Kaplan have jumped on to the potential of ipods as tools for SAT preparation. Would it be entirely silly for students to create their own revision audio files for playback on ipods and the like?

And many teachers have employed Jeopardy as a fun revision method, made even more colorful and interactive by the use of SMART Notebook files to hide and reveal answers. The benefit of this type of revision might lie more in students making a graphic organizer or mind map to explain a concept or event, and using this as the basis for an interactive game. allows easy design of mind maps, which would be great for this type of thing.

Test prep is a necessary unpleasantry (notice I shied away from 'evil'), but I don't like encouraging a focus on learning devoid of enjoyment. So why not exercise your creative streak and share some of your own ideas with colleagues.

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