My English class finished Friday Night Lights the Wednesday before Thanksgiving break, just enough time to not stretch things out but not enough time to test and start something new. So I decided to try a quick blended experiment. Students would schedule five minute conferences with me in those two or three class days between finishing the book and the test to review for the test. They could come in pairs if they wanted but no more than that. As usual, I used Doodle to schedule the conferences.

I wasn’t expecting much from these conferences, seeing them as a likely unsuccessful experiment but a way to fill the time between finishing the book and the test. I quickly, however, realized how valuable these meetings were, however short they were.

The substance of the meetings ranged from the fairly logistical (format of the test, approach to studying, etc.) to the more substantive and book-related (primary themes, important characters, etc.). After a day or two of the meetings, having realized the usefulness of the meetings, I myself started approaching them more consistently, checking in first about the format and then asking some questions about the book.

In these mini-discussions about the book, it occurred to me that such an approach might even be a viable way to assess, perhaps not as a mandatory assessment but as an option, especially for students with certain accommodations or that don’t test as well in a traditional setting. This approach is obviosuly related to the book group idea, an approach that I have not yet tried (but is on the list…), but this blended experiment was an encouraging first step.