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Slay the Dragon: Morning Minutes, March 2, 2016

There’s a part of me that loves tests not. They create anxiety for kids, and they also create some tension between teacher and student, especially if a student does not do well.  Unfortunately, yesterday’s test on Night thrust us down this path. Yesterday, kids were anxious.  Today, there will be tension from some as I hand tests back.  And while, I do not love what tests do to kids, they are necessary experiences in education, dragons that must be fought.

To begin, the test was tough.  It was, as I will call it today, “a big-kid test,” a test that not only required mastery of content, but also some mastery of test taking.  My intent here is to prep the kids for what’s to come.  Most of my honors kids will go on to take Advanced Placement courses, and most of them will be seeking to produce high SAT or ACT scores for college entrance and scholarship awards.  They have to have experiences with “tough tests.”  It’s a necessary evil.  But despite my trying to explain that to them today, I will be the enemy for causing them stress.  And that is when I will remind them of what I did to make the necessary a little less evil, the dragon a little less scary. This will be on my board when the kids walk in today.

What I did.

  1. Gave two-and-a-half weeks to read a 115 page book.
  2. Gave a list of people, places, and terms that would be on the test.
  3. Facilitated three discussions about the nine segments of the book.
  4. Provided summaries of all nine segments and allowed use on the test.
  5. Allowed you to have the book during the test.
  6. Allowed you to use any and all notes you took for the test.
  7. Gave you class time to take notes, and encouraged you to collaborate with peers to create your notes.
  8. Told you in advance that there would be an opportunity for post-test corrections (up to 80% with resources).
  9. Told you in advance that there would be an opportunity for retake (up to 100%, new test, open book, no notes).
  10. Reminded you repeatedly that it was not an easy test.

What did you do?

Though answers will vary, there’s a degree of predictability here in terms of what kids did and how they performed.  Many kids did very well, earning A’s and B’s.  And, no surprise, for they are the ones who actually read the book, heeded my warning, and took numerous notes.  Some did not do very well.  Some did not read the book.  No coincidence. I just hope they are willing to own it and learn from it.

Today will be bitter-sweet.  On one hand, it will not be fun to break the news to some of the kids, but on the other hand, it will be exhilarating to celebrate with those who slayed it, those who vanquished the foe.  I just hope that some of my kids learned a lesson.  I hope they learn that one can slay the dragon if one is prepared.  Can’t go into the cave without a sword and shield.  Fortunately, in 219 they always get another shot at the terrible lizard.

Happy Wednesday, all.


2 Replies to “Slay the Dragon: Morning Minutes, March 2, 2016”

  • I love the idea of the list! I remind my kids of all the things I do to prep them, but a visual reminder is a great idea. While I am explaining to my students how I practically gift-wrapped and hand-delivered their test to them (on a silver platter? ) allowing notes, giving practice tests, accepting late assignments, allowing re-takes, etc., I’m sure I come across as a nagging old bitty. I would probably tune me out. And, I don’t want to come across as if I’m being hostile either. They are kids. But this puts the non-emotional ball squarely in their court. Nice.

  • Today I’ll do you a favor and give these same kiddos a test over the industrial revolution and colonialism. If they need to vent their wrath, I’ll share that with you. They must learn how to take tests in order to “play the game”, but I share your feelings about testing.

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