How Quizzes made me a Better Teacher by Enlivening and Enriching my Lessons!

*Quizzes may be used with any age group and for any subject*

It all began with my introductory talk on our unit ‘Dinosaurs’.
I told my class to pay attention because I’d be asking questions at the end.
At the front of the classroom was a wide blackboard, with chalks of different colours and a duster on hand.
(It could just as easily have been a whiteboard, marking pens and cleaning cloth).
I spoke about carnivores, herbivores and omnivores.
When did dinosaurs live and what is a popularly accepted theory of how they went extinct?
The talk went for 20 minutes.
When I’d covered all the points I’d prepared it was time to see how attentive my students had been.

I’m going to put you in teams. Remember your number.

I gave each student a number: 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4 …… and I was careful to ensure that each group (the
1s, the 2s, the 3s and the 4s) had equal representation of both the academically gifted and academically challenged.
(this would ensure the upcoming quiz wouldn’t be lopsided in favour of any one group).

Do you all remember your number? Hands up number 3s? Number 1s. Number 4s. Number 2s.
Number 1s, your team is called the Dolphins. 2s, Tigers; 3s, Gazelles; 4s, Rabbits.

Time for some rules!
For the quiz at the end you must obey these rules.
Rule #1: Only if you’re sure you know the answer, raise your hand above your head as quickly as you can.
Rule # 2: I will ask the person whose hand I see went up first. If that’s you, you must answer as soon as I say your name (if you don’t answer straight away …if you pause to think ….the question is over and you lose a point for your team).
Rule # 3: You lose a point if I say your name, you answer straight away but your answer is incorrect.
Rule # 4: If your hand goes above your head before anyone else but then you quickly lower your hand because you realise you were too quick to raise it (and you don’t know the answer) I will require you to provide an answer. So… be sure to raise your hand above your head only if you’re sure you know the correct answer!
Rule # 5: Each question gets asked just once, whether or not the answer I get is correct or incorrect. (If incorrect, I’ll ask if anyone knows the answer).
Rule # 6: Never ever call out the answer. You MUST raise your hand and wait for me to ask you. If you do call out, you’ll lose a point ….even if your answer is correct!
Rule # 7: Sometimes I will give a special point if I see someone is trying hard to do everything right. For example I might see on someone’s face that they are really concentrating. Maybe I’ll notice them politely applaud when another person gives the correct answer.
Rule # 8: If you are mean or disrespectful to another student, or if you don’t participate with a spirit of fair play, you risk losing one or more points for your team.

Now, is everybody ready for the Dinosaurs quiz? The first team to reach a score of 5 is the winner and each person in that team will receive a 5-minute early mark
at home time.

So, the ground rules had been laid.

But just to make sure they wouldn’t be forgotten I went over them again.
What are two ways you can get a point for your team?
What happens if you quickly put your hand up before thinking properly?
How can you lose a point for your team?

What followed was the best, most rewarding lesson I’d given in a long time.
All students were highly attentive -I could sense them thinking, “I’m sure he’ll to ask about that in the quiz!”

Important Hint *
Rule # 7 is the secret to successful group quizzing! It allows me as teacher to reward any child I so choose with a point. This can mean that a shy but earnest student who’s lacking in confidence to answer questions for fear of being wrong can gain a point for their group …how good to know you’ve contributed to your team’s score …and won’t your team mates be pleased with you! * AND ….What an excellent way to keep the scores close! *

Teacher may do the scoring or, instead, choose a responsible child to ‘sit out’ the quiz and be the scorer.

Sample Progress Score on blackboard or whiteboard.

Close, tight quizzes (between teams) are always more exciting than if they’re one-sided.

How to Keep the Quiz Exciting
It’s always better if the teams’ scores are close while the quiz is in progress. This calls for the teacher to be ….shall we say …‘creative’. Suppose, using the above table, a child in the Tigers team (Rosie) is sitting up nice and straight and is participating eagerly. Teacher could say, “I’ve just noticed Rosie is concentrating extremely hard. One point to the Tigers!” (there are many other strategies the astute teacher can use to keep quizzing close and interesting, with all students on the edge of their seats!)

10 Benefits of Quizzing

  1. Reinforces what has been taught (let’s say by 20-30%)
  2. Makes the lesson more enjoyable, stimulating and fun (maybe by 30-50%)
  3. Practise in self-discipline
  4. Focus on concentration and mental alertness
  5. Feeling of belonging (team-player)
  6. Can build confidence and self-esteem
  7. Can instil a feeling of responsibility (to your team)
  8. Quizzes are interactive …..whole-class participation.
  9. Creates an exciting class atmosphere
  10. Builds positive teacher-class rapport

Every student I’ve ever taught (~1000) enjoys a good quiz!
© Ron Shaw (Perth, Australia) 8 February, 2021