Melissa commented on the Setting Up Student Jobs post about the job of Quiz Writer. This is the person who helps you by writing a true/false quiz during PQA or a story so that you can be ready in the last five minutes of class to give them a quiz with little to no prep of your own.

Melissa wrote:

I’m having trouble with the quizzes coming from the quiz writer. Either they are asking questions that are not in the story or are tricky. I’ve been doing the quizzes lately because of this, but I would like to get the quiz writer back to work! What suggestions do you have for this? Do you give them guidelines to ensure the quizzes test what the kids know rather than trying to trick them? Thanks!

In the comments below, add how you might deal with this. Here is my response:

Hi Melissa! Great news! We’ve all struggled with this very thing. Any student job that is worth having is also worth your time to train them how to do according to your expectations. We can’t neglect that part or we won’t get anything but a headache. Flowers need water to bloom.

So, here’s how I deal with the quiz writer job. My quiz writer is instructed to write a quiz based on what is discussed during a specific time during class. If it’s story time or PQA time or whatever, they start recording when I say so. That’s only fair to the students so they know that what they’re hearing NOW may be asked about on the quiz.

I give them these guidelines:
1. Write 15 or more statements in Spanish about the facts of today’s class.
2. Use today’s target vocabulary in each statement.
3. Write about half of the statements true and half false.
4. Write Verdad (V) o Mentira (M) depending on the correct answer.
5. Listen carefully to what is said to help you write in correct Spanish, but don’t worry too much. Write what sounds right then move on.
6. Please write 1-2 statements that can be inferred from what is said: something that is not said directly but can be said indirectly, supported by knowing the facts.
7. Please know I am not likely going to use your questions exactly as written. I will tweak them as I need to. That’s my job.

When I have a new quiz writer, I will begin PQA with a statement containing a target phrase. I’ll get a response from the class, like “Ohhhh!” Let’s say the target structure is “wants to have” and my statement is “Jayden wants to have a new iPhone.” I’ll actually stop, turn to the QW and say, “Ok, so, that was a super interesting statement that the class needs to know. So write down 1 true and one false statement using that language now.” Then I’ll pause until they’re ready for me to continue.

Since I’d be saying that in English, I would first walk over to my Spanish/English sign and flip it to English (or whatever you use to make clear to kids that it’s Spanish time).

After I stop to tell the QW to write 1 T and 1F statement once or three times, I usually can just make eye contact with the QW and get a nod from her or him to make sure they’re tracking subsequent statements.

When it’s time for the quiz, I almost always tweak the questions myself on the fly, even if they’re good, just to reinforce to the quiz writer that she/he is not trying to play gotcha with her/his classmates, that ultimately I’m the one responsible for choosing the quiz questions. That’s my job.

On occasion, I have quickly gone over some statements with the QW at the end of class and given quick pointers as well: That’s a great question there! This one’s good because the students need to infer the right answer. This one doesn’t contain any target vocab, etc.

I understand your frustration with bad quiz writers. I’ve had them. But it’s such an important job for me – it saves me SO much time and effort – I am willing to train them to give me exactly what I’m looking for.

I hope that helps, Melissa! LMK if you have more questions!

Training Your Quiz Writer

2 thoughts on “Training Your Quiz Writer

  • September 16, 2015 at 11:44 am


    I have two quiz writers and ask for half as many questions from each student. When it comes time to give the quiz, I ask two questions from each paper so both students have to listen. I also train them to write down exactly what they hear, or change a detail when we do our “oooOOOooohhh,” or whichever statement indicator we’re using at the time. This is helpful when they just start to write quizzes and aren’t quite sure what to put down.


  • September 17, 2015 at 10:20 pm

    Thank you for laying out such clear instruction! I have never implemented this job in my class due to the special characteristics of Chinese.
    But, now, I think I’m going to give it a try.


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