The English Teacher

Oral Quiz

Oral quizzes serve a number of purposes. When students are not reading their reading assignments, the teacher may give them written quizzes to motivate the class to do their homework. Depending on the class, the students may not be motivated by low grades to do their reading. If that is the case, sometimes an oral quiz will create the motivation.

The quiz consists of three parts. In part one, the instructor calls upon students in some pre-determined fashion such as alphabetically, reverse order, or working from the middle of the class list to the beginning and the end, etc. Each student who is called upon tells part of the narrative, in chronological order. That is, they have to know the story sufficiently well to state what event comes next in the story. The teacher allows each student only enough answer time to determine their familiarity with the story. [In this way, each has a 'first' chance.] If the order of students is changed each time, the class will not read just the first part of the story, or that section they may be called upon to know.

When they have all been called upon the 'first time,' then anyone who knew enough to answer in the first round can volunteer a detail from the story not mentioned in the first round. [NOTE: If anyone can participate in the second round whether they knew the story well or not, students will only scan the story for a few specific details.] In the 'second' round these details do not need to be in chronological order. The first who answer may not be too challenged but eventually as details are 'used,' the oral quiz becomes more challenging. No one should be allowed a third turn until all have had a chance to answer in the second round.

Then when all students have had a second turn, a third round is started. Students who successfully answered the second round, can volunteer an answer for the third round. The third round usually tests everyone's memory and the students who can answer those 'questions' feel satisfied with their work.

They receive a 'C' for a successful first round question, a 'B' for the second round, and an 'A' for the third round. After you give the first quiz of this type some students may feel that it was unfair since they didn't know what to study for, etc. Tell them the first quiz was mainly practice, but you will be doing it again and now they know how the procedure works.

There are two factors to consider when giving this type of quiz. First, it does work better than written ones because the whole class knows who has studied and those students who haven't, and many don't want everyone to know that they haven't studied day after day. Also those who complain about the teachers' unfairness or bias for their low grades don't have that excuse because everyone can see for themselves how prepared the 'complainer' is. The second factor is that the teacher has to know the story very well to conduct this type of quiz. The teacher can not go to the book or notes to check details that students are expected to know without them.

In summary then, this oral quiz works quite well in motivating a class to read their daily homework assignments.

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