Friday, March 12, 2010

10 Weeks and No Tests Update VII

This is a quick update on my class experiment. I was discussing the student created assessments with my American Literature students and I wanted to know how the projects were going. The majority of them said they were going well and it was a nice change of pace from the regular multiple choice tests they normally receive. One students said they did not like the student created assessment project at all. When asked, they said, "I would rather just take a tests. It's easier to just tell me what is on the test. That way I can study my notes and take the test and get a good grade. You could have just read the cliff notes and do a project." I was a little surprised by this response. This students is one of the best I have this year and they were a little annoyed by he whole process. I told this student that someone could just as easily read the cliff notes and take a MC test or just be really good at guessing having never read the book. I continued to say that at least with a project, the student who didn't read would be forced to work with the information and create something new instead of filling in ovals and moving on.

I'm not sure if this student is convinced, but it did show me something really sad about the educational system as a whole. Even our best students look at testing as just a way to get the grade and move on to the next subject. They don't see assessments as measuring anything substantial. It's that mentality that is hurting the entire educational process. As teachers, we need to stress the importance of varied assessment in the classroom. Think about why you give the test. Is it because it's easier to grade? Is it really the best way to assess the student's learning?

On a slightly different note...

One of the parts of my American Literature class is vocabulary. I give a Word of the Day every day (duh) and have given a test on them after they have received the 25th word. It's not their favorite part of class, but many of the words are later scene on the ACT or the SAT and students always thank me afterward. One of these tests is abut to fall during my No Tests time period and I now have to think of another way to assess their knowledge of these words. This problem has been a blessing. I came up with multiple ways for students to use these words instead of just memorizing them for a test. I could have students visually represent certain words and present them to class. I could have them create crossword puzzles or have them work in groups and come up with some type of Photostory using all of the words. There are so many different possibilities I'm truly excited about revamping a process that has worked fairly well over the past 7 years.

- @TheNerdyTeacher


  1. I continually battle the same attitude from the "A" students. In fact, I have incorporated more technology or as I call it "right brained stuff" into my classes this semester. The only classroom discipline issues I have had have been from the students who perform the best academically. I have several kids who have a very long discipline history. I have not had ONE problem from ANY of them. They have been so plugged in that I finally said "this is why I teach." I have not felt that way for a long time. This just reassures me this is the "right" way and true learning! Thank you for always sharing and updating on your blog. You are one of my "online teachers!"

    Cheers to you for being such an inspiration!


  2. Shaughn,

    Thank you very much for your kind words. I'm glad I can be one of your "online teachers". There are many of other great teachers out there that I have learned from as well. Please check out the #FollowFriday list on the right to see some of the grat educators I share ideas with and vice versa. If you are not on Twitter, hurry up and join the club. We have a great time and might even get t-shirts. ;-)

    Thanks again for reading.

  3. Nick,

    I do have a handful (and growing) of you I follow on Twitter. Just today I had to check out what this #FollowFriday was all about. Oh my! It was like the wealth of knowledge heaven! I have been so excited since I have "found" all of you. I have learned so much in such a short amount of time. In turn, my students have also learned so much in a short amount of time.

    Keep up the great work!

  4. Isn't it amazing how 'institutionalised' students become in terms of their expectations of school and getting good grades? Well done on creatively changing this.

  5. I wondered when a student would admit to this. I remember thinking it at times when I was a student. A test is in many ways easier because it doesn't really require anything lasting of a student. They can cram the night before, fill in the bubbles, and be done with it. Never to revisit it again. But a project that requires something is different, because you keep thinking about it, you keep revisiting it. Even after it is finished you think about it with a sense of accomplishment and pride and think about ways that you could have tweaked it, and so the learning is never really finished.
    Keep shaking things up! I will be interested to hear what that student thinks about the project at the end of the semester and how much better they understand the reading.


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