29 November 2006

Ninety-Five Big Ones

Ah, Wednesday. That magical day when we all benefit from someone's feverish work to bring together the week's Carnival of Education. It's number 95 this time around and is still as fresh as the first one posted nearly two years ago. Head over and have a read.

The two I pulled out this week as favorites have to do with grading, of course, as that topic has been on my mind this school year. Check out perspectives from two right-wingers:

  • Darren is perplexed by students who see grades as a means to an end (like getting into college) and not a measurement of their learning. Tests and quizzes are the opportunities for kids to show what they know.
  • Meanwhile, Right Wing Nation contemplates whether or not "good vs. bad" test-taking abilities exist. A thoughtful piece, indeed.
Like Darren, I wasn't wild about offering extra credit. If a kid couldn't do the regular work, then how would s/he do well with something extra? My guess is that what most kids are really asking for is something differentiated. They want a way to show their learning on something other than a test or quiz for every unit. Many don't realize that there are usually a ton of opportunities built in: homework, in-class work, discussions, etc. I also agree with the other post in that most kids and families will use bad test-taking abilities as an excuse for poor study habits. I must say, however, that I had a senior last year who was the worst test-taker I had ever had in 15 years of teaching. I don't know why---and I truly did try to help her by giving her some strategies. Even take-home tests were a dismal failure when other take-home assignments were not. When you talked with the girl, you could tell that she understood the material. She was able to use the information and apply it in different ways. The whole test thing? Not so much. I do wonder how she will survive college when so many grades are based solely upon exams.

Anyway, get on over to the Carnival and stimulate yourself. Your brain will thank you for it.


Anonymous said...

As far as bad test takers, I do have one student who does around 20 points better if I just let her talk her answers out after school and read her the directions aloud, walking her through it, helping her address the "second type" of questions described in the post. She's in my Spanish class, and she constantly--at home, practice, etc.--peppers her speech with things she's picked up, trying to carry on simple conversations with strangers even. I'd say she's a bad test taker, but I'd probably put it down mainly to ADHD.

PS We had a meeting with a curriculum specialist today and I thought of you!

The Science Goddess said...

I hope it was a good curriculum specialist...and not one you hope a house will fall on. LOL