After reading a novel or chapter, I used to assess my students’ understanding with a quick, multiple-choice test. It was an easy way to quickly assess (and quickly grade) student learning, but it didn’t really engage my students in active learning.
Then I tried something new.
I still assigned the same multiple-choice test to my students, but I had my students complete the test in small groups. In addition to answering each question, I also required them to cite textual evidence that supported the answer they selected, so it was an open-book task. I told them that they were not allowed to guess on the assignment; they had to work together to complete the assignment.
The results were amazing!
The prep work was minimal (if anything).
The students had fun, were engaged, and learned to work together.
Not only did the students collaborate to complete the task, the discussion that this activity generated was amazing. My freshmen were debating which answer was the correct one, and they did so by providing textual evidence to back up their answers. It was real, authentic learning.
The best part of the activity is that every single group scored very well. In fact, most of the groups earned 100% on the tests.
So dig through your old filing cabinets. Dig through your friend's old filing cabinets. Find any old multiple-choice tests you can, and assign them to groups to complete. The results will wow you, and this will become an activity that your students look forward to!