5 Tips for End of Year Review Strategies

It’s May! The end is in sight! But not before our students need to sit for exams and show us what they know. This means many secondary educators are in review mode in May and June. So here’s a brief list of some strategies that help engage students in meaningful review.

1. Discovery Education’s Board Builder

If you have a login to Discovery Education Streaming or Discovery Education’s Social Studies Techbook, you also have access to Board Builder. Think of Board Builder as a digital science fair board. Rather than taping or gluing on pictures and text, students can assemble digital boards, electronically, and include video clips, interactives, text, downloadable pdf’s, etc. For review purposes, students can create their own review boards to synthesize course content, or teachers can create boards themselves as an interactive launch pad for review. No matter who creates the Board, teachers or students can embed Discovery Streaming clips, Techbook interactive texts, or embed all sorts of other relevant content and media. Here are just a few examples of review boards. Click on each image to visit that interactive board.










2. A more inclusive form of Jeopardy

It seems variations of Jeopardy are very popular for classroom review. Many of us have seen and used the PowerPoint template that allows students to play Jeopardy through PowerPoint. Here’s my beef with that method. If one student is selecting a category and question, allllllll the other students are off the hook, zoned out. So I shake up the traditional game structure. The name Jeopardy, the music, the aesthetic are all fine, they’re familiar to kids and they engage them. But I want every kid answering every question. So I have my students use cheap white boards with dry erase markers, have them write the answer, but make sure they don’t show me or a classmate their response before I yell “go!” Then all the students raise up their white boards, and I can quickly formatively assess every student in the room, and adjust my review accordingly. I could do something similar in a more tech savvy way with polleverywhere.com or Socrative or a host of other apps and websites.

Sometimes I spent waaaaaaaaaay too much time lesson planning, and DVR’d Jeopardy every night, scoured YouTube for old episodes, and spliced together all U.S. history related questions in iMovie. I’d then do the white board thing with the real Jeopardy clips, pausing between question and answer to have my students think about the answer before the big reveal. I don’t suggest this, it was massively time consuming, but thought it was worth mentioning. Students LOVED it. Way more engaging than the PowerPoint method. I have 2 of the videos I used here and here.

3. I have, who has

Related to the above strategy, I try to review in ways to engage every student in review and “I have, who has” helps me accomplish that. Create enough cards for every student in your class. Each card should have an “I have” and “who has” section. The “game” begins with a “who has,” like, “Who has program that allowed Mexican workers to enter the U.S. for jobs during World War II?” Every student in the class must be paying attention, or this doesn’t work. Every student must think if their card answers their classmate’s “who has” question. So a student shouts out, “I have Bracero Program, who has a 1945 meeting of Stalin, Truman, Churchill….” and the process continues until all students have participated.

Click here to download sample and use as template.

I have who has

4. Why does it matter?

Review flashcards are a very popular review strategy students use to prepare for tests. But flashcards have a tendency to value rote learning over higher order analysis and application. Discovery Education’s Social Studies Techbook includes review flashcards at the end of every chapter, but the flashcards include a “Why does it matter?” section. This seems to be an easy thing to emphasize with students. If you’re going to make flashcards, include a place on the card for why it matters.

Why Matter

5. Have students brainstorm dialogue in speech bubbles.

If review has a tendency to over-emphasize rote learning, how can we get students to apply content in a multitude of ways? Using images in PowerPoint slides isn’t enough to create engaging, higher-order, student-centered visuals. What are students being asked to do? Are they only passive participants in the lesson as they view visuals? Insert blank speech bubbles into images of people. Ask students to think about the point of view of the people depicted on the slide, possibly with a primary source as a stimulus, then use an equitable calling strategy to have a share out of responses.

After reviewing the Munich Conference in 1938, students can imagine some speech bubbles:

(Click on any slide in this post for a larger view.)


Some more examples:

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If you have the capability to leave the bubbles blank and have students use a digital pen to come up to the board and write some in, even better. Or if students have laptops and can insert text in blank speech bubbles in a Google Slides or PowerPoint file, then upload to your inbox, even better.

What other strategies do you use to help your students review in meaningful ways? Share in the comments section!