Which Robber Baron Are You? Quizzes to Inspire Writing

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

You might be like me if you scroll through your Facebook news feed clicking “like” but come to a screeching halt when you find a social media quiz like this one, Which Social Networking Site Are You? on Cha Cha.  It turns out that I am Google+. Want to know which Avenger you are from the Marvel series? Take this quiz on The Escapist. According to this quiz, I’m Hawkeye.

Hawkeye
Hawkeye

Take this quiz

These quizzes that focus on the quiz taker and often combine popular culture are a little addictive. But what if they were educational tools, too? I set up a free account on Qzzr to find out.

Standards in this example:

History–Social Science Standards for California Public Schools

8.12 Students analyze the transformation of the American economy and the changing social and political conditions in the United States in response to the Industrial Revolution.

(4) Discuss entrepreneurs, industrialists, and bankers in politics, commerce, and industry (e.g., Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Leland Stanford)  (1998, p. 38).

Common Core State Standard for writing and related substandards.

I created a social media quiz that asks students, “Which Robber Baron are you?” Based on their responses, they are given a prompt for writing based on the popular RAFT technique [click here]. In this example, I gave students the option to choose the topic based on their responses. I controlled or assigned the role, audience, and format. When I learn more about social media quizzes, I will add the R, A, and F into the quiz, as well.  Try out the quiz, below—you know you want to!

Robber Baron

Click the image to take the quiz (opens in a new window)

To set this up, I designed an Excel template with two sheets (see below). One sheet is for the overall profile for each choice; in this case, Leland Stanford, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and J. P. Morgan. For each, I wrote a profile in second person (you are….) which I post as an outcome. If you would like to see the Excel spreadsheet I used, please click here. Each profile is set up according to criteria I determined in advance: Early life, interests, business focus, and so on.  The Qzzr tool allows me to choose an outcome (in this case, one of the Robber Baron profiles along with a format type), and I enter the questions from the Excel sheet into Qzzr. Just copy and paste from Excel into Qzzr and voilà!

Excel

Tabs for each sheet are on the bottom left.

Next, I create a link to a writing prompt based on the students’ responses in Qzzr and place that in the final outcome description (for example, “ You are John D. Rockefeller”).  I linked the prompt to this blog, but you may use a variety of platforms to deliver the prompt to students (e.g., Google Drive, your course management system). The great thing about Qzzr is that if the students don’t like the assigned topic, they can go again.

In this example, I wanted students to compare the assigned Robber Baron with another in the same industry. The prompt, which you may download here, is based on the format of the prompts provided at Achievethecore.org for informative writing.

Other quiz tools you may like:

http://www.proprofs.com/quiz-school/

http://www.playbuzz.com/

Good luck, and have fun, too. Learn more about differentiation on LiteracyBeat here. Also, check out other educational uses of social media quizzes here.

Images:

The images were found using Creative Commons image search, and the photos of the Robber Barons are in the public domain. Background image in Qzzr: https://openclipart.org/image/300px/svg_to_png/178502/robber.png

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