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Wednesday, April 1, 2009



This activity is used to assess what students have learned in class during one class period or what they know about a certain topic that has been studied in your classroom. Divide your students into pairs. Have each pair write the topic on the top of a blank sheet of paper and you are now ready to Sponge.
Tell the students to begin and the pairs will now list all the facts they know about the topic they have been asked to respond to. Instruct your students to be very specific; the more specific they are, the more points they can earn. For example, if the topic is George Washington the word “president” is worth (1 pt.), “established the first cabinet” (1 pt.), etc. Grades can be given for reaching a certain pre-established point scale or extra credit for performance can be given on the next homework assignment. This activity works well as a means of closure or as the opener/bell ringer for the next class. It can also be used as a transition to close one activity or to open up another. The Sponge question for closing an activity is, “What did you learn from this activity.” The question for opening an activity is, “What do you know about a certain topic?” Do not forget, after each activity you must have an assessment and a Sponge is an easy assessment that requires little planning on your part.

Sample Sponge with grading

Topic: George Washington

1. 1st president (2pt)
2. Set up the first cabinet (1pt)
3. Secretary of State – Thomas Jefferson (2pt)
4. Secretary of the Treasury – Alexander Hamilton (2pt)
5. Secretary of War – Henry Knox (2pt)
6. Set precedence’s still observed today (1pt)
7. Call me Mr. President (1pt)
8. 2 terms is enough to be president (1pt)
9. Whiskey Rebellion (1pt)
10. Believed in a strong central government (1pt)

Note: It is important too that each fact receive 1 point; this will encourage your students to be more specific. It is also important to give only positive points. This encourages students who know part of the information to write down what they know. If a student writes down something that is incorrect, just mark it out; do not take points away. Also, it is important to note that Sponges are only effective if they are graded and returned the next time you see your students. This provides another time for you to quickly reteach the important facts (and I do mean only the important facts) your students must know for success. Reteaching should only be items that will be tested; enrichment is good for your students but this is not the appropriate time to include it.

Find more Teaching Strategies like this on the Teaching Strategies Page


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