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Improve Reading Retention

Updated on August 8, 2014

Reading Improved By Utilizing the Pop Quiz

Learn the power of the pop quiz. Used correctly, your student will be retaining what he/she reads in no time. Simply the mention of a pop quiz in relation to school work elicits moans and groans of dread from students and parents alike. Done right, it is an amazing reading tool. It costs nothing, yet gives wonderful results.

The pop quiz entered my son’s reading program when he was in second grade. My first thought was “for Pete’s sake, we’re talking second graders here”. I remembered how I hated pop quizzes when I was in school. From the comments I heard from other parents of children in the class, most of them had the same reaction.

As parents, my husband and I tried to put a positive spin on it to our son, even in the face of the big fat “F” received on the first pop quiz. The graded paper only showed the answers, so I had to pry the questions asked out of my son while he whined about the unfairness of it all and how hard pop quizzes are. The quiz consisted of four questions and one bonus question. There would be a pop quiz each week over the reading assignment for that week. Once I figured out the type questions being asked, I made it my mission in life to help my boy do well on the quizzes. He was a good reader for his age, but didn’t retain much of what he read.



Our plan of action began with my son reading the story aloud. Then I read the story aloud, emphasizing points throughout the story that might be on the pop quiz. It went like this, “John rode his RED bike to the store. Mom wanted EGGS for his baby sister’s BIRTHDAY CAKE. Mary was FIVE years old today.” After reading the story, my son would read it once more. Next we had a question/answer session and I would ask, “What color was the bike?” “Why did John’s mom need the eggs? “ If he didn’t remember, I would tell him, “Remember, the bike is red,” and move on to the next. The grin on his face when he showed me his graded pop quiz paper the following week said it all. He got all four questions correct, plus the bonus question. This became our ritual each week and he rarely got one wrong. Soon, I noticed that no matter what he was reading, his attention to detail was excellent.

That was the year I remember as the beginning of my son’s love for books. My daughter was in fourth grade that year and she asked if I would help her in the same way with her reading. Her class was doing the accelerated reading program where children tested on the computer over books they selected from the library. Her scores also improved.

What my children learned about reading that year carried them through their high school years as well. When they had trouble with a subject and thought they just weren’t “getting it”, my advice was always the same. "Read the material. Read it again. Having learned early on how to retain what you read, some of it will stick with you, even if you aren’t sure exactly what to study."

Regardless of whether you are a teacher, are homeschooling, or simply a parent helping your child learn to retain what they read, consider using the pop quiz to power up your child’s reading retention.


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