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