To say that students are engaged in Nicole Goepper’s French class at Fauquier High School in Warrenton, Virginia, is an understatement. Her lessons are peppered with games, songs, and even dancing, which keeps students on their toes. Her whiteboard relay strategy is especially captivating—and it can be used to assess any concept that can be assigned as a task that students complete by working together.
In Goepper’s class, she most frequently uses it for verb conjugation. She calls out a verb, counts down from three, “and it’s off to the races!” Each student on the team completes one subject-verb portion of the task and passes to their adjacent teammate, until all subjects are conjugated.
Says Goepper, “If somebody gets stuck, they’ve got their team to help them, but they’re still the one that’s actually writing it. Once the task goes all the way around and is completed, they stick the whiteboard on their head and say, “Fini!” And by sticking it on their head, the other teams can’t see what they wrote. Also, when it’s on their head, they can’t change answers. No cheating in this fast-paced game!
Goepper awards points for each round: “First place, they get three points. Second place gets two points. And then if any team just has it correct, they get a point. If they did get it wrong initially, sorry, no points, but if they fix it and show me, OK, you get a point. They are encouraged to go back and fix mistakes.”
At the end of all the rounds, the team with the most points gets paper euros, which they save up throughout the year and use for prizes.
The benefits of this strategy are hard to number. In addition to being a fun informal assessment, Goepper adds, “it’s an easy prep for the teacher. It can be done impromptu. If you start seeing that something needs to be reviewed, it’s easy to go into. Because they’re in teams, there’s that interaction because they want to win. And by having the pressure from your teammates wanting to win, you get a high level of achievement. It might be messy handwriting, but that’s OK.”