School classroom test days are as precious as manna in the desert.
Although I love giving a good lecture more than anything, that single day is a great time to catch up on grading. In a typical week, I lecture for four days and saved Fridays for tests (I usually called them quizzes because it’s less threatening). With this schedule, I rarely had to bring anything home, since I graded the previous week’s quizzes as my students took the current week.
Always design a test to take the entire class period.
You don’t want to be left with fifteen empty minutes on a Friday (dear God, no). For most teenagers, that’s about twelve short answer questions and a paragraph in English class. If you teach any of the Humanities, there’s no need for multiple-choice tests, which I consider a bane in modern education.
Typically, I give students five minutes for review of their notes at the beginning of class and then collect homework assignments. My tests are usually open book, but that doesn’t mean the tests are easy. I found students usually produce better answers if a test is open book. After all, most college exams are open book. If you failed to read the material, there’s no possible way you can finish the test in the allotted time and the same goes for high school. Unless they have an IEP (Individualized Educational Plan), there’s no reason to give them extra time on the quiz. If you do, you’ll have a quarter of the kids doing it.
A Miraculous Testing Strategy
I used to have students bring their tests to my desk as they finished, then ask them to sit quietly while others finished. I stopped doing that.
Now, when they finish their quiz, they sit there and wait for others to finish. They KEEP their tests. I let students know if they are talking I will assume they are cheating, and they get an F. That stapled test before them becomes a TEST, and a TEST carries weight of authority, helping you keep the class quiet. Believe me, when your room is dead silent five minutes before the bell rings on the day before Christmas break…you’ll know what I am talking about.