Saturday, August 29, 2009

History Week, Day 7: The Best, Easiest Study Guide of All

During my years teaching history, I was forced to give my students a lot of awful tests for each and every unit we covered. These tests were made entirely of multiple choice questions drawn from released TAKS tests, and usually covered a wide range of unrelated topics or included the most obscure reference you could have imagined. Sometimes I wouldn't get these tests until a day or two before I was supposed to give them!

I did not have the clout or guts to change the tests or throw them out yet, so in addition to fun review games, I would give my students study guides that would give them everything they needed to pass the lousy tests.

My favorite study guide was a foldable commonly known as a mini-book. It's fairly easy to make (you can find directions here), and when you're done you have eight wallet-sized pages (if you use the back and front). All you need is paper and scissors. Unlined copy paper works best.

Each page is small, but you should structure it to have a title (a key vocabulary word), some kind of illustration, and a one-sentence main idea. For an example, see my rough draft of a U.S. Constitution foldable.

Kids like this even in high school, because it's different, it's fun to make, and it's easy to take with them. You might even let them use it on the quiz or test you're giving if they are responsible enough to have it with them on the big day. As with any good idea, you can't use it every time there's an assessment, but you can use other foldables and study guide formats to keep things fresh.

Here's my example mini-book and two resources you can use for other foldable ideas: