Pizza, pop and some good-natured ribbing around a game board stretched well into the evening March 5 at the Teachers College. No, the students weren't challenging the education faculty over a game of Scrabble or Parcheesi. The game was called "Color Me Praxised," and the big prize for the players will come as the students successfully take the exams for their teaching license.
The board game, shaped like a little red schoolhouse, was developed and designed by College of Education research associate Carol Rauch as a review for students taking the PRAXIS II and PRAXIS III exams.
The game is patterned after Trivial Pursuit, but has multiple-choice questions used to review for PRAXIS tests. The game pieces reflect the teaching profession. Students who correctly answer a question get a crayon matching the color of the category: blue for teaching and learning, middle school assessment and instruction; pink for questions relating to physical and emotional environment; green for the teaching area of assessment; brown for professional issues such as unions and relationships with peers; orange for content; and yellow for "potpourri," the questions that may not fall into a particular category.
In Ohio, college students preparing to become teachers must first pass the PRAXIS II exam before they can get their teaching license. It's a test that measures the future teachers teaching skills and knowledge in their content area of expertise. Here are some examples from the testing guide: It is easiest to dismiss a tenured teacher if the teacher:
a. Is proven to be incompetent
b. Is excessively absent
c. Is continuously insubordinate
d. Is convicted of a criminal act
e. Has an unsatisfactory observation report
Approximately 30 states use the PRAXIS II tests. The qualifying scores in Ohio are among the toughest in the nation, ranking first and second on measuring teacher skills. Nearly all of Ohio's cutoff scores on content knowledge are higher than the other states' cutoff scores.
Students who pass PRAXIS II earn a two-year provisional teaching license. There's also something new in Ohio about teacher testing in 2002. New Ohio teachers for kindergarten through 12th grade must now pass the PRAXIS III in order to get a five-year license to teach, so most college students taking the PRAXIS II this year will eventually be taking the PRAXIS III as well.
Rauch taught in the Milford school district for 19 years and says she's hoping the game nights will help students review their programs in a fun, relaxed atmosphere. One of Rauch's former students from Milford, Becca Long, did the artwork for the game board.
Rauch says the tests would be a challenge for veteran teachers who've worked in the classroom for years. "Testing comes up every two months, but if students do not pass by June, they will not get certification this year," Rauch says.
Students at this game night were reviewing for the last round of testing that was held March 9. A faculty member sat in on each table: Ron Sterling, associate professor of teacher education, Piyush Swami, professor of teacher education, and David Naylor, professor of teacher education. Shana Burg, an elementary education major, also joined the group, but passed both parts of the test earlier this year. Before the exams, Burg attended one of the game nights.
"There was a question that came up in a game and I had no idea what it was, and then it came up word-for-word on the test," said Burg, who found the game a great review of her UC education.
Naylor says some UC faculty will also be taking the PRAXIS exams for their own review in teacher preparation. "The game puts the studying into an enjoyable format," said Naylor. "It puts questions into discussion. You can call the answer and give your reasons for it, and if you're not clear on something, then other people at your table can clarify it for you. It fosters a little study group, which is great."
UC students Matt George and Rob Malling are friends and teaching interns at Cincinnati Public's Chase School. George is currently teaching third grade math and social studies and Malling is teaching reading. Joined by Rina Dizon, an eighth grade science and seventh grade math teaching intern at Harrison Junior High, they took on Associate Professor Ron Sterling. Cheers went up for the correct answers as everyone competed for crayons, and for the stumpers, students took last-minute notes as part of their final review.
"When I came here tonight, I was wondering if we were going to sit and listen to a lecture. This was really cool," said Malling.
Here are the answers to the review questions above. For the first question, the answer is selection a, and for the second, the answer is d.
The next game night is planned for April 16, preceding the next testing day April 20.