Friday, October 17, 2014

Daily Quizzes - An Easy Way to Start a (kind-of) SBG System & Provide Classroom Incentives

I want to share the biggest change I've made to my classroom this year: Daily Quizzes. 
This is the brain child of one of my amazing colleagues. Last year, he did 6 question exit tickets as a homework replacement. YES. A math teacher that assigned NO HOMEWORK. 

Well, I wasn't quite ready to take that leap. However, I did like the idea of having plenty of skill-based data reports, and tying it to an incentive. So we decided as a PLC to compromise. DQs emerged from that compromise. Here's how it works.

Each day, after notes, students have around 15 minutes to start their homework. (We have 90 minute blocks.) After that initial practice time, I project a 6 question quiz on the board (My PLC creates these together ahead of time). 
Students are allowed to use their notes. Once they're finished, they bring it up to me, and I grade it immediately (It takes less than 15 seconds per quiz. I use open ended questions, and there's no partial credit. Each is right or wrong, and I spend no time at that point looking through work or evaluating mistakes.) I record their score, tell them, and keep the card (which helps keep the answers from traveling around the room). Here's a picture of my recording sheet:

The topics are along the top, and scores range from 0-6. I do give half credit VERY rarely for students that made arithmetic errors, or for answers not in best form (such as answers with negative exponents). I color code the scores at the end of a unit, on the morning of the review day. This helps me remember where our weaknesses were throughout the unit. 

0-1 are red
2 is pink
3 is orange
4 is yellow
5-6 are green
Absent is blue - I don't typically require students to make these up.

You can see the clear difference in my honors classes (above) and my regular class (below).

Another difference between honors and regular classes is the number of questions, and incentive attached. Honors classes get 5 question DQs, and students that score a perfect 5 are permitted to complete every other homework problem that's assigned that day. Regular classes get 6 questions, and students that score a 5 or 6 get to only do half the problems. 

This homework incentive has been FANTASTIC. Students take the notes seriously, because they know they're going to want to reference them during the quiz. They work furiously during that initial practice time, and even my withdrawn/shy kiddos will reach out to their group or to me to ask questions to iron out any issues during that time. 

After they get their score, they resume work on the homework assignment. I typically reserve around 20 minutes for the DQ, which means the early finishers have around 15 minutes to work in addition to the 15 they already spent. As much as they hate getting 4s, they get so competitive about the 5s and 6s. We had to start a class vs. class competition - and I think adding an extra question for my regular class puts them on a level playing field. 

Class DQ Board: 1st Regular, 2nd & 4th Honors
I go back once everyone's finished and look through work. We clarify common issues, and I give cards back so students can post them on the bragging wall (shown below), or look over their mistakes. 

Let's talk about some details on logistics:

Grading: I grade these as a single quiz grade per unit. I drop the lowest one from the unit, then average the rest. The percentage for the average out of 5 is their grade. (For the regular class, this means that they could get a quiz score over a 100 for their 6s. I haven't had an average over 102 yet this year, so I'm not concerned about giving them a few extra points for a 6. I make sure that the questions are difficult enough so that 5s and 6s aren't guaranteed.) These have completely replaced normal quizzes for me, and I'm ok with that even though they're all open note quizzes.

Supplies: I have students bring in index cards to turn in at the beginning of the year. These are in the supply bins for their groups, and most of the time we use them to complete DQs. Occasionally, they prefer using a piece of notebook paper instead, especially for problems that take up a bunch of space. 

Student Data Tracking: Students keep up with their own scores in 2 places. 
They record the score first on a page I created to go beside their Unit TOC page (from Math=Love). 
This score goes right beside their homework assignment page number and homework grade, so I can quickly check their scores as I grade homework. This means I know whether to give a 50% or a 100% for a page that has every other problem completed. They get a stamp on this page and on their punch pass for each 100%. (My blog post on punch passes is here.)

The second place they record these is at the beginning of their Reference & Warmup notebook (post on my new notebook setup is here). They record a daily I Can sentence from the board, with the corresponding page number, their DQ score that matches, and fill in a bar graph beside it. I encourage them to use this right before their test to reflect on what to spend the most time studying.

My regular students have 6 boxes, since they can score up to a 6.
My honors students have only 5 boxes.
As you can see, some students are a bit more colorful with their records, and there are days we run out of time for a DQ.
I have also done "Daily Double Quizzes" where we do a makeup DQ from the day before along with that day's regular DQ.
Also - note the frowny faces. They HATE getting 4s. 

I post the entire week's I Can Statements at once on the front whiteboard.

I'm painfully aware that this system is missing a couple of things: a method for reassessment, make-up DQs for absent kids, and a way to tie this info with their tests. However, it's also been the easiest transition to something close to SBG that I've ever implemented. I've been able to save time grading too, which is always great. 

Enjoy your weekend!


  1. I absolutely positively LOVE this idea. And will likely be stealing it for the second half of the school year!

    1. Thanks! It's really worked well for me - I hope it works just as well for you!