Polski3's View from Here

Quote of some personal revelence: "Is a dream a lie, that don't come true, or is it something worse?"

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Assessment/Test/Quiz Design

As many of you know, I currently have a student teacher "interning" in my classroom. He is discovering the challenge of working with middle/junior high students, but so far, he says he prefers junior high students to those he experienced in his first section of student teaching at one of our local high schools. I did gently remind him that I have seventh graders, NOT eighth graders, many of whom are a completely different species....anyhow......

I wrote up a short piece regarding aspects of developing assessments/tests and quizzes. Here it is:

Tips for creating Quizzes, Tests and other assessment activities....

1. Stick to the standards you are expected to teach and students are
expected to know/learn.

2. For multiple choice questions
* try to keep the question short......
* do not use conflicting letters to represent answer choices......
have letters like c and e , i and j, m and n, u and v , x and y
etc. in the same set of answer choices.
This can cut down on the number of challenges in grading these
questions and in students questioning a question being marked
as wrong or not correct.

* it is ok to include a (none of these answer choices) or (all of these
answer choices) answer choice.

3. For True and False questions:
* I suggest using ( + ) for True and ( O ) for False statements.
This eliminates the mutant variations on the letters T and F.

4. For Fill-in-the-blank questions, I often put a few answer spaces at
the beginning of the statement to help remind students to capitalize
the first word of a sentence. Hold students accountable to
capitalize proper nouns.

Example of some fill-in-the-blank quiz questions:
1. Egyptian rulers were called _______________.
2. The river that flows through Egypt is the __________ River.
3. ________pharaoh_________ was the boy pharaoh whose treasure
laden tomb was discovered by Harold Carter in 1921.

5. Skills:
* include questions in which students must use a map, graph,
chart, timeline or other graphic material provided by the
* I often include a chronological ordering activity to evaluate
the students grasp of the order the events we study took place.

6. Provide multiple parts of the assessment activity, for example, a
quiz that contains true and false questions, multiple choice
questions, fill-in-the-blank, and perhaps an activity asking the
student to draw something and explain the drawing (such as a 4+4
type of activity.

7. Use at least 12 point type size. Leave at least one line of space
between each question.

8. To modify a test or quiz for ELL or Special Education students, you
can offer fewer answer choices on multiple choice questions, by
providing a choice of answers for fill-in-the-blank questions, by
reading aloud each question and its answer choices......
You may also test students orally, either as a small group or

9. Keep in mind the purpose of the quiz, test or assessment.....to
monitor and evaluate student learning and intergration of the presented

10. OF COURSE, you can just use whatever assessment, quiz and test
materials come with the bundle of stuff from the text book
publisher; but I find that these are often lacking in supplementaluse
many other supplemental teaching materials that may contain data
or skills not included in the publishers bundle of stuff for their
textbook, etc.

What do you experienced teachers out there think of this ? Too much to bite off and chew at once? Anything you would add or change? Please let me know. I have been doing this for a long time and find that it is an ongoing learning process for me in designing and developing assessment, test and quiz materials. Anyhow, please feel free to share your personal expertise in this matter (or anything else about classroom life and survival!)

Thanks for reading my blog! As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Nasty letter from a Parent.....

Friday, at the end of my teaching day, I was served with a letter from an "irate" parent that ended with these words: "We have fretted and worried for 2/3 of the school year. We are not going to let (our student) give up and quit and we will continue to help him no matter how hard you try to keep (our child) from succeeding. We hope (our student) makes you proud when (our child) repeats (current school grade).

This parent wrote the same letter to four of her child's teachers. And provided a copy to the principal. She noted that she and her husband feel it was a big mistake to talk to her child's teachers right after Thanksgiving, and that the problems for their child would only get worse if they chose to meet with us now or in the future.

She specifically cited my failure to respond to questions in her child's daily planner and is baffled as to why her child's teachers cannot write down exactly what assignments are missing in the child's daily planner.

She goes on to say how her child gets home from school and tells "us" how much four of his teachers HATE (the student).

Anyhow, if you have taught for awhile, letters like this crop up from time to time. Parents get frustrated with their child's lack of performance in school, and sometimes there are other things going on within the family that lead to a lashing out at the teachers.

I personally have a major problem with this letter, in that I have only had this child in my classroom for about the past five or six weeks. This child entered my class in February, transferred out of his previous History class and into my class. These parents have NEVER spoken to me, regarding this child (I have had other children of their pass through my classroom, and there were no problems). This child has been absent from my class about 20% of the time. IF there were any notes or questions from the parents in this child's daily planner for me, the child failed to show them to me. I have no idea what I may have done to this child to lead this child to use the word HATE about me or my class. Maybe telling him he could do better or that he needs to make up missing work led to this ?

At this time, I am not going to respond to this letter. IF there is a meeting, which I will not attend unless the principal is present, I will show the evidence in my grade and attendance books to justify the child's current grade. He is not a behavior issue for me, other than he often drums on the desk.

Thanks for reading my blog! As always, I welcome your comments!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Left Behind......

I had a "parent conference" this afternoon. The "parent" in attendance was not the students 'parent', it was his half-sister. She explained to us that they have the same Mom. However, "Mom is a drug abuser." His "Father" is currently "incarcerated" and will probably get out sometime this year. He lives at the house of his father's mother (his grandmother), who has several other grandchildren living with her. He has a bed and chest of drawers set up in the utility room, ("but there are no washers and dryers in there," we were told.) He has to keep the door to this utility room locked to keep his aunt (Fathers sister) from stealing what little bit of stuff he has to help support her drug habit. This being said.......

Half Sister has been having him go to her apartment after school to do his homework. This is a start. But this kid is so far behind. He failed his core classes for the first semester and is currently failing most of his classes this semester. The number one reason is failure to turn in work. From the sound of it, this kid has been Left Behind from the time he was conceived.
I wonder how many more like him we have at our school? I can think of several students in my classes who are probably living like this. Is that living ? They say we are supposed to "relate" to our students. I cannot relate to this. Such a life was no where to be seen in my environment while I was growing up. So, U.S. Secretary of Education Spellings, what would you suggest the schools do to advance kids like this ?

Thanks for reading my blog! Your comments are welcome!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Teaching Ideas.....

I am still in a funk about my grades. I assigned an assessment project that was due last Thursday, for the end of our Islam Unit. The project was to complete a 6+6, 10+10, poster or booklet about the "Contributions of Islamic Culture and Civilization", which is one of our California State Social Studies Standards. And, just like THESE students have been over the past several months, not many of them bothered to do this project. So, I had an alternative assessment lined up for them. Those that did not turn in a project received a regular test to take in class. It is worth less than the project was worth. But, at least there will be something to go in the grade book and they have the opportunity to demonstrate to me that they learned SOMETHING. This alternative assessment will be put in the gradebook as an alternative assessment, and should an parent conferences be held, I can point out to the parents that their child did not do their project. And the students at least get some points. What about those who did turn in their project? They have the opportunity to earn more points (aka a higher grade) than those who took the alternative assessment. Those that turned in their project also got class time to either quietly work on their biography project (due next Friday), or read their AR book.

What do you other teachers do when students do not turn in projects ? I'd be very interested in hearing how you deal with this.

Thanks for reading my blog ! As always, I welcome your comments !