Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Reverse Process of Elimination

The following was used in an AP Lit class, but can be used for any class that has a multiple choice test to prepare for.

We all know the best method of answering multiple choice tests is through process of elimination, but we also know that students often skip to trying to jump to the correct answer.    That's great if the correct answer is obvious to them, but not so good if they don't see it right away and often leads to poor decision making.

In AP Lit, the multiple choice questions are quite the bear to get through.  Most prep guides say to shoot for 60% correct.  The kind of kid who is attracted to an AP course does not shoot for 60% and has a hard time dealing with that concept.  We do A LOT of multiple choice practice, so I am always thinking about how to do it differently.

Today I tried reverse process of elimination.  In order to do that, I needed the following items:

  • A multiple choice practice passage (just one passage - not a whole slew of them because this will take too long) - the passage I choose was from the Princeton Review AP English Literature and Composition Prep Guide 2023.  I like this book because the multiple choice are, in my opinion, harder than the College Board ones.  Hopefully, they build up to these and when they see the actual test, they will feel a bit more confident.
  • An answer document formatted to fit the activity.  I used Fireworks to make it.  You can take mine and alter it to fit your needs or make a new one.  I'll put the image below.  It's formatted oddly because you need the hole punch to reach the answer bubbles.
  • Single hole punchers - a week ago, I offered a grammar pass for every hole punch that was donated to the cause.  I now have more than I'll probably ever need.
  • Red and black markers

Here's the process.  I mark my answer sheet by coloring in all the wrong answers with my red marker and all the correct answers with my black marker.  Students get an answer sheet, practice passage, and hole punch and get to work.  After reading the passage, they punch out one answer bubble for each of the questions.  The goal here to to punch out a WRONG answer.  This is an answer they are eliminating.

Then it is brought up to me where I will lay it over my answer key.  When I see red, I make a red mark on that bubble (well, the paper surrounding the now vacant bubble).  When I see black, I mark it and then mark out all remaining answer choices in that question.   The students get the answer sheet back and get to try again for all questions that have not been blacked out.  This process is repeated up to four times (since there are only 5 answer choices).

When it is finished, for these ten questions, I chose to give them a 25 base grade and then 2 points for every red mark.  Top grade for that would be a 105.  It looks like this:

That's my key to the left (rather messy after two periods of marking answers) and a finished answer sheet to the right.  I just count the red marks, times by two, add 25 and voila!  

This takes about an hour to do, with some students finishing earlier than others (they had homework they could get started on).  For slow working students, this does increase the amount of time they use considerably, but not enough to cause any problems for me today.

Afterwards, they said it was much more stressful, but they felt it really drove home the process of elimination.  They also felt that the last two attempts were easier since they had less answer choices to choose from (which is the point of process of elimination anyway).

Do you have an interesting way to shake things up with multiple choice?  Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Indoctrinate Your Students! (With Brave New World and 1984 Propaganda)

 I like to make my classroom as literary immersive as possible.  When we read Brave New World, the seating chart changes by height.  My tall row are my Alphas, and so on down to Epsilons (though I make sure my Epsilon row can handle the joke).  I always praise whatever answer my Alphas give (even I have to do crazy maneuvering to bring them to the actual correct answer and I cut the corners off the papers handed out the Epsilons (so they don't hurt themselves, of course).  I we read 1984, we paper the school with Big Brother Is Watching You posters and we have a secret police in the class to report on other students who aren't loving Big Brother as often as they want to (punishment, wipe down the desks or turn in other classmates).  

All the while this is going on, I have a slideshow of propaganda constantly flashing on the TV screen.  I'll share them with you. Some of the slides I created and some I just found online (more online for 1984 than Brave New World).  In order to play it automatically, I put the tab in its own window, hit SLIDESHOW and then in the bottom left corner, select AUTOPLAY then LOOP then 30 SECS then PLAY.  I cast it to the TV and go about my day.  

Here is the Brave New World one: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1c1Xd0Z0VF9w6BVA71WJsnyRBiO5aqnwQEbiSQ4_mIr0/edit#slide=id.g7f9262ee2f_0_26269

 Here is the 1984 one: https://www.blogger.com/blog/post/edit/2196350756928860595/1634928911302079891

I haven't taught 1984 in a few years, so it could probably stand to be updated a bit.

What about you?  Do you have any cool immersive activities?  Leave a comment!

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

AP Lit (and probably a lot of AP Lang as well) - Multiple Choice

 In 2023, someone on the AP Lit Facebook page asked the question of more experienced teachers, what is their advice to students for answering the super hard multiple choice questions on the AP Exam.  The group responded.  I save them all and put them on a Google Doc that you can access here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1GUzkI_W7xQYddTmVzdbg1NLaLR_4pdvMacuOkX5UNdA/edit

But, if you just want to pursue a bit, here they all are.  These do not come from me, but from the brains of other talented teachers across the country:

Facebook AP Teachers were asked: “What are your best strategies for teaching how to perform better on the multiple choice passages?”

  • Don’t think—find.

  • Read the passage first with emotional engagement and curiosity. Some students feel like they should just skim the passage to work quickly, but reading with interest makes answering the questions easier. Use marginalia to record your emotional reaction as you read-- for example, put a smiley face next to a funny line, or !!! next to a line that is surprising. This may help you answer a question about tone or detail!

  •  If an answer is partly wrong, it is wrong. Learn common types of wrong answers-- for example, some answers would be right for a different part of the passage, while others contain some words that are right but some that are wrong. Some have roughly the right content but the wrong tone.

  • Right answers are often a little disappointing and limited. They won't say EVERYTHING you want them to say. This is because it's HARD to write an answer that is completely right, so right answers can't necessarily contain the kind of debatable claims that you might make and defend in a rhetorical analysis essay!

  • Practice by analyzing your wrong answers and figuring out what made them wrong. Then, once you've practiced enough, TRUST YOUR GUT! Don't overthink questions

  • Fill in an answer to every question. There's no penalty for guessing, which actually means you increase your score by guessing.

  • POE strategy (Process of Elimination)

  • If an option is partially wrong, it's completely wrong.

  • Read ALL the response options before choosing one.

  • Unless you are 100% sure you made an error, do not change your answer once you've selected it.

  • Choose the “best” answer…one or two might look sort of correct, but which one is best?

  • Usually extreme answers are wrong.

  • Close reading means reading the passage AND the potential answers closely.

  • Try to imagine a group of college board employees sitting around a conference table making up wrong answers and trying to trick you into thinking they are correct answers … try to understand those devious minds! This is what gives their existence meaning! Lol…don’t let them outsmart you!

  • If it's hard for you, it's hard for someone else too.

  • If you don't know, guess, move on, and don't change the answer- first guesses are more likely to be correct.

  • Read the questions before the passage

  • When in doubt, go with your gut

  • If the questions refers to a part/line of the passage, go back to that part of the passage and reread it and a line or two before and after

  • I tell my students to read vs skim- most questions are beyond surface level besides the vocab context in meaning ones.

  • I recommend reading the question and seeing if an answer pops in your head and then finding which one matches, while being mindful of lead distractors.

  • Answer line specific questions before reading the poem/passage.

  • I tell them to think about getting as many points as they can. They don't need to worry about what they're getting wrong. Instead, they need to think about what they're getting right. So, on the first pass through, they just need to get to all the questions and not stop and think about any of them for too long. Then, on the second pass through they can go back to the ones that needed a little more thought. "Easy" questions are worth the same amount as "hard." It's all about the number of total points they can get. I also make sure they know that unless they are one of the very, VERY few who get a PERFECT score, they'll never know how many they missed or WHICH questions they missed, so it's different than taking it in a class.

  • Answer broad/theme questions last--after reading the passage/poem.

  • The idea I talk about the most when it comes to narrowing down the last to answers that are both correct, but one is MORE correct, is that if you have seen a theme or an idea in all of the other responses, that that one answer will also connect to that idea.

  • B is the new C

  • One time I asked my students who consistently scored well on MC if they had tips or strategies to share with others. One kid raised his hand and then responded, "Well, first of all, I choose the right answer." He was dead serious.

  • There’s usually a good answer and a better answer. Look carefully at every word in each potential answer.

  • Oftentimes kids don’t do well on MC tests because they don’t know all of the vocabulary in the questions. This is especially true when the answers are quotes from the passage.

  • Read the questions CAREFULLY

  • Other than practice, the MCQ section is difficult to prepare or improve upon.

  • Use the process of elimination and then take a guess!

  • Consider how you would phrase your answer to a question before looking at the possible answers— this helps you avoid trap answers

  • Find the rightest answer.  These questions often rely on nuances and so there may be several answers that are potentially correct.  Don’t look for the “correct” answer.  Look for the one that is more correct than the others.

  • Partially wrong answers are completely wrong answers.

  • A simple answer doesn’t make it a wrong answer.

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Avoiding Summary on the FRQ3 Prompt for AP Lit

I recently had a student ask for a lesson on how to avoid summarizing on the FRQ3 prompt.  I've always just said, "Don't summarize, instead imagine you are talking to me about a Star Wars or Marvel movie - you don't have to tell me what is in it, I already know.  Let's talk about what it all means."  I didn't have anything else on it.

So I started looking and everywhere I looked, all I saw were web sites stating, "Do not summarize," but no other practices on how not to.

So now I was faced with having to create it myself, I just didn't have the passion to do it.  Luckily for me, Mandi Morgan posted on the AP Lit Facebook group a lesson she had designed for summarizing and was asking for feedback from teachers.  It's pretty awesome.  She wrote three example paragraphs.  each one has its own slide and animation to reveal what is summary and what is analysis.

I copied and tweaked it to fit with what I needed for my class and added one more example and a handout to go with it.  Mandi did all the hard work on this one. I asked her if it was OK to share it with you fine people, and she said yes.  

Presentation: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1EKA4UwMznRFxmb2ceUbgGCo7r7mx7Av61xBl5u0N_Q8/edit#slide=id.p

For the handout, it is just the examples on the presentation so that they can mark it themselves before revealing what is summary and what is analysis. That, and space to write their own paragraph.

Handout: https://docs.google.com/document/d/15WX1DM4VeQHGv6FgYFrxcU3UFmkiOI3WFAAptOfplbE/edit

Thank you, Mandi!  What about you?  Do you have a good lesson you'd be willing to share on this (or anything FRQ3 related)?  Tell me in the comments!

Friday, March 1, 2024

Friday Fun Day

 A friend of mine shared this on Facebook, credited to Jill Thomas Doyle:

Thanks to Kelly Arnold for being extreme enough to sharing it with me!

  • An Oxford comma walks into a bar, where it spends the evening watching the television, getting drunk, and smoking cigars.

  • A dangling participle walks into a bar. Enjoying a cocktail and chatting with the bartender, the evening passes pleasantly.

  • A bar was walked into by the passive voice.

  • An oxymoron walked into a bar, and the silence was deafening.

  • Two quotation marks walk into a “bar.”

  • A malapropism walks into a bar, looking for all intensive purposes like a wolf in cheap clothing, muttering epitaphs and casting dispersions on his magnificent other, who takes him for granite.

  • Hyperbole totally rips into this insane bar and absolutely destroys everything.

  • A question mark walks into a bar?

  • A non sequitur walks into a bar. In a strong wind, even turkeys can fly.

  • Papyrus and Comic Sans walk into a bar. The bartender says, "Get out -- we don't serve your type."

  • A mixed metaphor walks into a bar, seeing the handwriting on the wall but hoping to nip it in the bud.

  • A comma splice walks into a bar, it has a drink and then leaves.

  • Three intransitive verbs walk into a bar. They sit. They converse. They depart.

  • A synonym strolls into a tavern.

  • At the end of the day, a cliché walks into a bar -- fresh as a daisy, cute as a button, and sharp as a tack.

  • A run-on sentence walks into a bar it starts flirting. With a cute little sentence fragment.

  • Falling slowly, softly falling, the chiasmus collapses to the bar floor.

  • A figure of speech literally walks into a bar and ends up getting figuratively hammered.

  • An allusion walks into a bar, despite the fact that alcohol is its Achilles heel.

  • The subjunctive would have walked into a bar, had it only known.

  • A misplaced modifier walks into a bar owned by a man with a glass eye named Ralph.

  • The past, present, and future walked into a bar. It was tense.

  • A dyslexic walks into a bra.

  • A verb walks into a bar, sees a beautiful noun, and suggests they conjugate. The noun declines.

  • A simile walks into a bar, as parched as a desert.

  • A gerund and an infinitive walk into a bar, drinking to forget.

  • A hyphenated word and a non-hyphenated word walk into a bar and the bartender nearly chokes on the irony.

Bonus points if you knew what a chiasmus was without having to look it up! And even more extra credit points if you know anything about this Jill Thomas Doyle. I've seen this all over the Internet always with a reference to her as the creator, but never anything about who she is.