As part of my AP Lang multiple choice series, I’d like to dive deep on just ONE synchronous strategy in this post. For this one, we’re looking at team competitions for practice.
Remove the Incentive to Cheat on AP Lang Multiple Choice
Rather than require a sudden moral evolution of our teenagers who are at home with little accountability, give them a reason NOT to cheat. How, you ask? Assign multiple choice practice in teams of two or three students and have those teams in breakout rooms. The teams are competing against one another, so they have an incentive not to cross teams to get answers.
There is some serious power in hearing a stronger reader think aloud. Imagine that your strongest reader—the one who could earn a 5 without you—is paired with that student who is doing pretty well on essays but needs that extra support+challenge push on multiple choice. This student is not weak, but he is not the reader his partner is. He needs to hear how she thinks. Here, iron sharpens iron.
For the teams, if you have students who are MILES ahead of others, keep those travelers together; they need to sharpen each other and take a break from carrying the load in groups. Again, think of your groupings in terms of the think-aloud advantage. What students will benefit from DOING the think-alouds (perhaps those who rush through MC and miss them because they are not taking time to process and eliminate) and which will benefit from HEARING the think-aloud (perhaps those who get stuck on the primary distractor and need to hear someone else’s process of elimination)?
Who gets paired?
Think strong+middle and middle+weak or strong+less strong, middle+middle. One of the students should have a reading edge over the other, but there should not be such a wide gap that both students cannot benefit from the grouping.
If learning is synchronous, drop in randomly to those breakout rooms to listen to the thinking so you can adjust whole-group instruction based on what you’re hearing. Ask the strong readers if you can record their breakout rooms to use later with other students.
What’s the competition?
Group is pitted against group not only for the right answers but for the explanations they write for their answers. (By the way, this is a magic trick. Students who write out their thinking are MUCH more likely to do a better job with elimination of distractors.)
Students do their multiple choice practice on Google Slides. Hypothetically, they work together on ten questions that correspond with one passage. Beside each question, they write the answer and a short paragraph explaining that answer. Students might go in backward and explain how they eliminated four of the answers or forward and explain how they chose the correct one. Either way, their thinking has to be laid out for the teacher, who might award points for the right answer, points for the explanation, and partial credit for good elimination of some answers on questions missed.
“But it’s not fair to the weaker AP Lang students!”
Au contraire! While you have ten breakout rooms going, you also have ten Google Slides presentations up within each team. You’re not only dropping in to the breakout rooms; you’re also live in those Slides and able to see what the teams are writing. You can have as much steering input as you like with the weaker readers. Give them some guiding questions to help in their elimination process. Tell them if an answer is wrong so they can re-think their work. You can leave the strong readers to their own devices, and they’ll be none the wiser.
“Where do I find multiple choice practice on Google Slides?”
So glad you asked. I have eleven multiple choice practice sets on Google Slides, all of which are aligned with the changes to the AP Lang exam as laid out in the most current CED. They are all bundled together here and can be used for this team practice strategy.