Partner quizzes make me really really happy. Like super happy. I use the protocol written by Christopher Danielson and Michele Luke. It was introduced to me when I used Connected Mathematics when I taught 6th grade last year and that curriculum designed quizzes to be taken with partners that were more difficult than the typical quiz or test. I don’t want to give too much away from their paper since I guess you have to subscribe to that NCTM journal to get it, but the gist is:

- Students have a partner
- They are allowed to ask one question to the teacher
- The teacher grades one from the pair and marks any incomplete or incorrect questions (just a mark, no comments) and leaves one bit of feedback on a post it
- Students get some time the next day to revise together
- Both quizzes get graded at the end

I used partner quizzes in my College Algebra and Calculus class. I don’t know if I’ll be using them next year in Calculus since it will be AP, but I do want to continue/start using them in all my other classes. I just need to make assessments that warrant them.

The reason these are just so so good are that they make the students have the best mathematical discourse ever. I always did random partnering and there was never (no exaggeration) a partnership that I couldn’t get to talk about the math. Granted, these were all juniors and seniors that chose to be in the math class (referenced in this post), but when I taught 6th grade I only had one group ever refuse to talk to each other. It is SMP3 at its finest.

The other best part is the one question. The first partner quiz is the best because it gets all the “Can I get a drink?” and “Can we ask a question?” questions out of the way and they learn to really structure their questions well. Sure, they can ask “What is the answer to question 5?” but that doesn’t ultimately help them with that concept that is probably going to come up again in the quiz. It also tells the teacher what they don’t know so I still get that assessment.

The revision process also brings about great discourse and has proven to me that students can take the least amount of feedback (just a dot next to a problem) and completely fix the problem. Some skeptics will say, well they just look up that problem that night. Maybe I’m naive, but I don’t think most students do this. Sure, maybe one or two will go home and look at the concepts again, but if you wrote problems that required higher level thinking (which is when you’d give a partner quiz), then it probably won’t help the kids. Plus, I’m on an A-B block schedule so they’d have to remember the problem for multiple days and I already have enough trouble just getting them to retain what was taught in the last class.

Overall, the partner quiz is a great process that I’m glad I was introduced to and plan to continue to use. 🙂

J’adore quand les étudiants parlent des maths!