Explain and Justify Questions

Test Strategy: Explain and Justify Questions

The Problem

So, this is the second year that my state has been using the ACT Aspire test as the End of Year summative assessment that replaced our state tests. It is supposed to help the students prepare to take the ACT test. However, I am not finding the formats to be that aligned at all. First, the students are assessed on a computer. I understand why, but we are not a 1:1 school, and students do most/all of their geometry learning without a computer. There are also “Explain and Justify” questions, which the ACT does not have. I will only address the second point as I get kind of whiny and tend to complain when I get going about assessing our students on computers when the class is not taught on a computer.

So, how am I preparing my students to be assessed on the “Explain and Justify” questions on the ACT Aspire test? Well, our district brought in a specialist on Depth of Knowledge (DoK) questions. The idea was to teach us how to formulate DoK questions, so that we incorporate more into our formative assessments. So, my team and I have worked to give the students more questions like this. But, naturally, they were not doing well on these questions just because we were exposing them to more of them. They needed to be taught how to approach the questions, answer them completely and thoroughly enough to earn all points possible.

The Solution

Well, I looked around for some strategies with no luck. So, I came up with my own and tried to make it culturally relevant. And with that, JuJu on the Beat was born. See the picture of the anchor chart below.

Of course, this strategy requires some practice with efficiency because the test is timed and difficult for students to complete in the given time restraints. But, with practice, it does help. Students tend to do better on open response prompts when they have worked the problem on paper before going straight to typing in the box.
If you really want to make it stick though, you should actually do the popular dance! My high school students equally loved it and were embarrassed for me! It was great!
In the end, have fun and do what you think is best for your students. If that is being goofy and dancing with them to help them remember a strategy…DO IT! :)
Would you like to read more about fun classroom strategies which lead to student success? Here is how I teach integer fluency…with a Boot Camp!
Explain and Justify Questions



Leave a Reply