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February, 2012

How to Find Questions on HelpTeaching.com

HelpTeaching.com is an online resource that uses member generated content to assist teachers in building quality tests and activities with a little help from their colleagues around the country. You can create your own questions. Or you could cherry pick the best questions created by others. Or you could create a test that is a perfect combination of both!

The vast amount of resources provided by HelpTeaching.com could be overwhelming, which is why this week’s post will focus on the different ways to locate the perfect questions for your upcoming assessment or activity.

Search Method #1: Browse by Category

Every question on HelpTeaching.com is categorized by subject area to make your searching simple and easy. Subjects include English Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies. (The content on Help Teaching isn’t just for those who teach major subjects. You will also find questions categorized by the Arts, Business, Technology and many more.)

Most categories are then further divided by subcategories, which makes locating your specific topic just a few clicks away.

For example: A few months back I was giving a quiz on American expansion.  I simply clicked on “Social Studies”, then “US History”, then “The Frontier” and presto! Pages of user created questions were waiting for me.

Search Method #2: Search by Member

If in your searching you find that one particular user has created a plethora of questions that match your style and curriculum, just click on that member’s name and scroll through their content. Your academic soul mate just may have even more to offer you when you view their entire collection of questions.

For example: I wanted to change up my Economics test on supply and demand. While searching the Economics database, I came across user adriscoll24422, whose questions matched my testing philosophy and vocabulary, and the difficulty level necessary for my students.

Search Method #3: Search Box

Need a very specific question to finish that test? Don’t feel like scrolling through all of questions about the Frontier on HelpTeaching.com? Just type in the term you’re looking for in the Search box at the top of the page. It will return any question in the database with terms in your query.

For example: I knew there was probably a small amount of user created questions about government subsidies. Instead of searching through all of the Economics questions, I searched for the term “subsidy” and located the only question in the HelpTeaching.com database about that topic.

Search Method #4: Advanced Search

Sometimes your needs are just too specific to search by a single term. Luckily, HelpTeaching.com has an advanced search option that can narrow your results down even further than a typical search would. The advanced search allows you to refine results by category, grade, and/or question type.

For example: In searching for questions on “supply” for my Economics test, over 50% of the questions weren’t even about Economics! Categories ranged from Vocabulary to Zoology. By using the advanced search function, I was able to refine my search by keyword (supply), category (Social Studies), sub-category (Economics), grade (9, 10, 11, and 12), and question type (multiple choice). The results of my advanced search left me with 20 questions, all of which fit my needs. The hardest part was picking which one to use!

There are multiple ways to sort through the HelpTeaching.com database of questions. Which method you use depends upon your unique situation.

Next week I’ll discuss ways you can customize your test using the HelpTeaching.com Test Setup feature.

How to Design a Good Test

Putting together a challenging yet fair test for your students is a difficult task for even the most experienced teacher. So many variables go into choosing the format, creating the questions, and locating the appropriate maps, charts, passages, and documents that some very basic, but very important, factors often go forgotten. Until now…

1)    Give the students confidence right away.

The first question of your test should be relatively easy. The students with test anxiety and those who are unsure of their knowledge will feel their confidence buoyed from getting the first question correct.

2)    Mix it up…

Each test can and should have a mixture of question types. Earlier grades should have a mixture of multiple choice, true/false, and others. Upper grades should blend multiple choice questions, questions with documents, and short answer questions.

3)    …But the format within those question types should remain consistent.

For example, all of the multiple choice questions on your test should have the same amount of choices.

4)    Be chrono-logical.

Students will often recall your lessons and classwork while taking the test. Putting your test questions in the order in which you taught the unit will allow them to cycle through the unit in their mind and hopefully jog their memory.

5)    Search to the ends of the earth for a good question.

Whatever your state assessments may be, there are past tests out there for you to peruse and use.  Find similar assessments from around the country and use their questions. Have a skill that you would like to reinforce on your test? Do an image search for the perfect picture, graph, or chart and create a question around the document. Websites such as HelpTeaching.com give you the ability to create tests from user created content from teachers just like you.

6)    Timing is everything.

It’s better to have your weakest student finish early than to have them not finish at all. Don’t try to pack too many questions into one class period. If there is just too much information to limit the amount of questions, spread out your test over two days, or change your assessment to an essay. Written assignments allow you to assess greater amount of content in one overriding question instead of 25 smaller questions. If you are afraid your higher level students will finish too early or will not be sufficiently challenged, prepare a secondary assignment those who finish early can complete in class and those who do not can finish at home.

Test creation can be a difficult task. A poorly created test can make an well prepared unit finish with a crushing thud, forcing you wait a whole year to rectify those mistakes. Follow the tips above for a smoother testing period. Good luck!

My next post will focus on customizing your tests using the features on HelpTeaching.com.

Member Groups Beta Launched

Member Groups beta is a premium feature we have enabled for some members that allows them to invite colleagues to join their group and share content. If a user is a member of a group, they can view, and print tests or worksheets shared by other members of the group, while maintaining their own private tests and worksheets.

Member Groups beta is a premium benefit we are giving for free to our top content contributors for a limited time. There is no way to subscribe to this benefit at this time, but keep an eye on our Facebook page and Twitter feed for an announcement and info on how to get an upgrade for your account.

 

About Help Teaching

Help Teaching is a service of Tribrio, Inc., a company focused on developing web-based solutions for education and training.

Help Teaching offers a powerful and easy to use online tool that can accommodate questions for any topic and any level of difficulty in a variety of formats: multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, true or false, and open-ended questions. By leveraging the site’s free member-generated content, Pre-K through post-graduate educators can quickly and inexpensively create professional tests and worksheets. Help Teaching members can maintain their own database of questions and tests in a desired format that can be used year to year.

About Blog Contributors

William Campione began his career in the New York City public school system before moving to a diverse suburban New York public school district. He teaches high school Social Studies. In his fourteen years in the classroom William has filled a variety of roles, including working with a co-teacher, in a consultant teacher model, and in a self contained classroom. He has taught all four high school grades, dealing with the stress of an impending New York State Regents Exam with freshmen, sophomores, and juniors, and the year-long battle with Senior-itis while teaching twelfth graders.

Lori Leclair is a freelance educational content developer. Using her classroom teaching experience coupled with her obsessive attention to detail, Lori crafts quality math and science materials designed for students and teachers. When not devising and assessing test questions, Lori can be found reading, camping with her family, or playing clawhammer banjo. Connect with Lori on Twitter @greengigs