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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

I love the Name Quiz

The Name Quiz is my thing.

I love it.

I have used it for years.

It never fails.

Here is what I do:

I require my students to know each other's first names.

They don't have to spell them correctly.

They don't have to learn last names.

But they do need to know each other's names.

They always ask why.

We talk about respect.

How do you ask someone for help, feedback, a pencil otherwise? "Hey you?"

Um, no, I don't think so.

Not in my classroom. Not on my watch.
Students take for granted that they know each other, even when they don't.

It can be embarrassing for them to realize they feel like they are part of a community, and they can't even name their neighbors.

So, they take a name quiz.

I tell them about it on the first day of school.

We play a ton of name games and get to know you games.

I remind them about the quiz repeatedly.

I give them a blank seating chart a day or two ahead of time to fill out and "study."

I pishaw those who claim they can't do it.

On the day of the quiz, I give them a few minutes to "study" (run around asking people their names).

The quiz itself is just a blank seating chart.

I move around the room calling seat numbers.

As I call the seat number, that student is asked to rise and I instruct them to write that person's name in that spot.

The beautiful thing is watching them take extra care to know one another.

There are those who are too shy to initiate contact, but the extroverts approach them and ask questions.

This week, I saw several students formally introduce themselves (with a handshake and everything!) to a new student and exchange names.

It is probably one of the most welcoming experiences late enrollees have.

I can physically see those students relax.

There are so many benefits to forcing kids to learn each other's name.

It speeds the creation of a real, caring community.

It ensures that everyone is seen and heard.

It is an easy grade.

Seriously, tons of kids tell me they are going to fail the name quiz.

Not so much.

The vast majority score at least an 85%. Many score over a 100% by including the names of absentee students.

And for the few who bomb, mostly because they just need more time, I offer retakes.

So, I love the Name Quiz.

Its my thing because it warms my heart to see the reactions kids have to being known by their classmates.

My neighbor uses an activity where students create name cards.

I am just so not organized enough for that!

It serves the same purpose and fits her the way the quiz suits me.

The goal is for students to be known by their peers.

And being known is essential to writing well, to being vulnerable enough to write your best.

It is the writing teacher's ultimate good thing.

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