Day 24: The One With the Unit Test

So strange to think that we are 5 weeks into the school year, one week away from the end of the first marking period and thus almost 1/6 of the way through the year.

After much anticipation, we gave our first unit test yesterday. The problems were all similar in structure to the problems from the group test on Wednesday, but with different patterns and different numbers. The hope is that students understand the structures and concepts, but still have to show what they know (rather than regurgitating the group test).

Preliminary results look good. Most students wrote something for every problem (as opposed to many of our tests last year, which often had blank answers if students didn’t understand). As to the overall structure, I think we’re going to focus on the reflection day (which happens after the group test, but before the individual test) to see how feedback and conversation can help improve comprehension. Ideas include having groups of students explain problems to other students (a structure which has worked well before) and having students reflect on each problem.

Photo #1: The Student Work

Fix the MistakeThis student work is from the problem that I think students had the most trouble with. We gave them a problem with several mistakes, asked them to find the mistake and then draw the pattern correctly. (This structure was altered slightly from the group test and threw at least one class into a panic of “Wait, what do we do?”) This student saw the mistake with Figure 0 (which should have 2 squares instead of 4), but didn’t fix the (incorrect) equation.

Photo #2: The Useless Teacher

The Unhelpful Teacher Because the test does involve some level of English and explanation, I tried to support students with less English. One student asked me how to spell “should”. Since the goal of this assessment is not correct grammar, I wrote it on their paper (in green, so that I would remember I helped them). Unfortunately, my penmanship is so atrocious, I think I only confused them more.

Photo 3: The Messy Desk

All the papers on my desk

Whenever we assess students summatively, I try to spread them out. (We also make 2 versions of the test) As a result, I had to pick up all the papers lying around the room and put them in the one place where I couldn’t seat students: at my desk. Please don’t judge.

Photo #4: The (Cleaned Up) Turn In Area

Clean papersMany students finished their test early. One student took it upon herself to clean and organize the area where I put finished papers.

1. Compare and contrast my desk (photo 3) with the student’s organization of my papers.

2. Can you spot all the mistakes in photo 3?

3. I’m happy to share copies of the assessment structure so far. I’d be curious to see how other people use group tests to prepare students for individual tests.


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