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Giant Bull's-Eye

This idea is based on this strategy from the fabulous Kristina Smekens.  Be sure to explore her site for more great ideas!

Regardless of how we feel about standardized testing, the reality is we owe our students exposure, practice with, and strategies for the question formats they're likely to see.  This activity gets students up and moving to narrow answer choices and select the "bull's-eye answer."  

And this strategy certainly isn't limited to test prep!  Use it for any multiple choice or select all question!


The Gist

The outer-most ring is for answer choices that are FAR from correct.  They may be factually incorrect, untrue, or otherwise obviously not correct.

The next ring is for answer choices that are true, factually correct, but don't answer the question being asked.

Then the next ring is for answers that seem correct, both factually and in the context of the question.  I call this the "shopping cart."  You know how when you're shopping, you see a shirt you THINK you like, but you're not sure?  What do you do?  Well, I carry it around with me through the rest of the store.  Put it in my shopping cart!  Then I decide if I really want it or not as I see the rest of the merchandise and take time to weigh this option.  So this ring is the answer choice shopping cart.  We gather answers we THINK may be right.

Then we compare those options in our shopping cart and isolate the one (or more in select all situations) that are the BEST FIT for the question.


To Make

The first time I did this, I used floor tape.  It's a wonderful invention and one of my favorite teaching materials.  Our PE teacher has tons of it and readily gave me a roll.  This tape sticks to the floor but leaves no adhesive residue behind.  Perfectly safe!  This is the same tape used to mark gym floors.  I labeled each ring using masking tape on the floor tape.

But then I realized I'd have to make it AGAIN the next time I wanted to use it, or I'd just have to live with a giant bull's-eye in the middle of my floor.  And if you've seen the rest of this site, you know I use my floor a lot, so that's just not going to work.

Thus the introduction of one of my other favorite teaching materials: painter's plastic.  Using a 10 ft x 10 ft sheet of plastic drop cloth (as seen in Giant Grid and Candy Land), I marked the rings.  A piece of string tied to a dry-erase marker and taped in the center of the bull's-eye made my circles rounder than I could have managed free-hand.

This plastic version allows this strategy to be reusable and easily deployed.  I keep it folded up in my cabinet.  I can even bring it out on a whim when I realize it might help students.



I partnered students and gave each partnership a set of index cards labeled A, B, C, and D.  I also numbered each set, so one partnership had set 1, another set 2, etc.  This made it easier to keep track of how each partnership was doing, award points as desired, and gather up the correct cards at the end of each "round."  Although not necessary, I also used a different color highlighter for as many sets as possible to make it easier to find their cards, and the highlighter doesn't show through the back to conceal their answer choices.

After explicit instruction on the bull's-eye strategy itself, we used traditional multiple choice questions.  Partners discussed, then placed their answer choice cards, face down, wherever they felt they belonged on the target.  I reminded them they don't have to have a card in each ring and can have multiple cards in the same ring.

Then, when every group was ready, we had a "big reveal" a la "MOVE THAT BUS!" to see what each group chose.  This gave us a great opportunity to discuss distractors, WHY choices were right or wrong, etc.  And I had immediate feedback how each group was doing, what concepts needed further reteaching, etc.  

Getting students up and moving this way made our test prep experience fun, interactive, engaging, and deeper.  We covered the same content as other teachers but in a way that didn't feel like a worksheet.  One class had 34 students, and we had 100% engagement.  You know how hard that is!  This strategy is definitely a winner.


The bull's-eye can also be used to sort text evidence and other concepts as well.  Students have trouble selecting evidence from the text that isn't just a fact from the text but instead directly supports the concept in question.  The bull's-eye is great for that!  You can even put individual statements from the text on the index cards (print, cut, paste!) and physically sort them.

You can bring the target out and lay it down during independent testing.  It serves as a visual reminder of how to think through these problems!  But PLEASE clear this with your testing coordinator before using it for any standardized test--you know how stingy those rules are!

This target can also be used to sort student answers to assignment questions.  Each student writes their answer on an index card.  You collect them.  Group students.  Shuffle the cards up and then distribute some to each group.  Then the groups consider each answer and place them on the bull's-eye accordingly.  The whole class gets a visual, interactive way to consider the content and nail down the "best" answers.  By not writing names on the cards, students get to evaluate other students' answers, realize where their own falls, etc while respecting their privacy.

Check out the Worksheet Buster use of the bull's-eye, Shuffleboard!  This fun activity uses the plastic bull's-eye, balls from Hungry Hippos, and any worksheet or assignment (not just multiple choice)!

And the target makes a great check for understanding!  See the Lecture Buster/exit ticket adaptation here.


I imagine I'll find other uses for the bull's-eye the longer I use it.  Feel free to contact me with your own variations!

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