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7 Tips for Improving Communication and Collaboration with Online Test Reviews

John Leighton, high school social studies teacher

John Leighton’s high school social studies students no longer have to worry about sports or other extracurricular activities getting in the way of their after-school test reviews.


Because instead of staying after school to prepare for tomorrow’s test, they have the option to join an online evening test review from the comfort of their own sofas.

John Leighton, high school social studies teacher at Franklin High School in Franklin, Mass., uses online test reviews to help him connect with more students.

“I decided to try out an online text conference to accommodate those who could not attend a live session,” says John.

Using his district's learning platform, he set up an online text conference for 50 students to log in. The sessions allow students to ask review questions by entering text into the conference window, and “talk” about the upcoming test with both the teacher and other students.

John notes that the reviews “evolved very quickly,” have become quite popular with his students, and have encouraged collaboration and communication amongst his students.

Think you might want to try holding your own online test review to encourage student-directed learning?

Follow John’s Seven Tips for Success

  1. Keep it simple: “Make your first one a very safe, very positive experience. Don’t try to do the same as someone who has been doing this for a long time.”

  2. Keep it small: “One group of students is ideal. Do it small scale and let it grow on its own.”

  3. Make it peer directed: “The first time I held the review, I answered everything. It was still teacher-directed learning, but online,” says John.

    “The second time, I had to leave the conference for a while because my daughter was sick. When I came back online, I found that the kids were starting to answer each other’s questions, engaging in peer collaboration – that is really what it’s all about. It has organically grown that way.”

  4. Make it optional: “At first, I made it mandatory, and then realized that is not something I wanted to do. So I decided to make it optional.”

    John says that his online reviews are now very well attended, ranging from 100 percent attendance in his AP college course, to no less than 50 percent in his other courses.

  5. Give students a choice: John notes that one of the challenges with the online review is that not all students have access, whether it be computer or internet. Because of this, he still makes himself available after school so that those kids don’t miss out.

    And, for students who are unable to make either the online or after-school classroom session, he provides an additional option, and credits the idea to one of his students. John simply copies the text of the conference and pastes it into a note in his learning platform, which he can then easily communicate to his students, parents and administrators, if necessary, all within the same system.

  6. Have it replace or simplify something that you already do: “Don’t create more work for yourself. Don’t make the session an addition to what you already do. I’ve put my review sheets online in the discussion board. The sessions are there to help the students, but you need to make it functional for teachers, as well.”

  7. Involve parents: Finally, John stresses the importance of the home-school connection.

    “Make sure parents are aware of it,” says John. “This helps the review grow on its own.”

The Online Test Review in Action

Want More Tips on Improving Communication and Collaboration?

1. Sign up for a personalized demonstration of How to Improve Classroom Interactions using the itslearning platform.

Click here to sign up for a personalized demo

2. Read the article: How to Strengthen Interactions Between Teachers, Students and Parents


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