Thursday, October 4, 2012

Day 22: Measurement & Assessment

My students' philosophy in regards to quizzes and tests really needs an adjustment. I know their 9th grade math teacher gave "homework quizzes" probably 2-3x per week in lieu of grading actual homework, so it's really surprising that they are so unprepared for regular assessments. I allotted 15-20 mins for an 8 question quiz which looked *very* similar to the worksheet we've been dealing with all week on angles & proportions, and a lot of the students wanted extra time. 

Two issues at stake here: 

1) If you need more than 20 mins to answer 8 questions, you don't know the material. Extra time is not going to change all that. 

But this attitude is quite prevalent and something I've been thinking a lot about recently. My theory is that students are so trained to work recipes as procedures for doing problems in math & science that they honestly have no idea *what* they're doing. So they look at assessments as random - maybe their recipe will yield something fruitful, maybe it won't. If you offer a retake, they won't study, they'll just hope for "better" questions the second time around. 

In short, more time = maybe it will come to me.

2) "If I fail this quiz taken on the 4th day of new material, I'm going to fail the class." 

Both of these problems are related to mindset. Again, students are trained to think about assessments as worth points and if they fail, the just lost a bunch of points, never to be heard from again. That's why I love SBG so much - I could care less about points. Show me what you know. Do you think I expectation on Day 4 of a new unit? That's ridiculous. What's important is that we get it worked out before the end of the unit. 

I tried to explain to my classes my thoughts on the matter, but as per usual, they don't listen to much I say (hence modeling - have them experience what it's like to be ignored by people you're trying to help). I could see some heads nodding in agreement, but there is a vocal minority that hates the new system. They don't care about learning, progress, or growth. They just want a grade. 

But what is a grade if it doesn't reflect what you can (and can't) do?

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