So, I’ve been thinking about tests and assessments in general. In particular, I have been thinking about students having choice around these tests.
I try to have a mix of assessments in my class. We write, we talk, we test. For our current book, Logicomix, we had a test. And, there were two field trips on different days, taking a few students from my class each day, and about half of my class gets extra time. What’s a thoughtful teacher to do?
I gave up having a single day for the test. We have a test and some short writing that needs doing, so this is what I put on my assignment sheet:
Due Tuesday, November 10th and Wednesday, November 11th
Over the course of these 2 days we will do the following:
- In class you will pick one of the forum posts to expand to 400-500 words. You should have chosen what you will write and have made a plan before coming to class.
- Test on Logicomix
- I think the best plan, for those not on trips etc, is to do the expanded forum post on Tuesday so that there is time for review questions as well. Then, the test would be on Wednesday. If you would rather get the test out of the way on Tuesday, as planned, that is fine. I will be ready with it. IF you will be in class both days, and need extended time, plan to do part each day.
That’s a lot of options. And people came in ready to do various things. What I noticed was that each student had a plan upon arrival. Yay! Students were choosing what worked for them. Although I can make a guess at this, since I am not in their heads (and thank goodness for that), I just don’t know.
I had to make a chart to keep track of who was doing and completing what, but ok, I love charts.
- 3 people out
- 3 people doing the expanded forum post
- 1 person starting on part 2 of the test
- 5 people starting on part 1 of the test
- Some of them moved on to Part 2, some will do it tomorrow.
- 2 different people out
- 1 person out for second day
- more tests get finished and started
- some forum posts get expanded upon
Next several days:
- 3 other times students had to schedule to finish bits and pieces
- several extra follow ups required by me
Part of why I could make this work is as an administrator, I don’t have a heavy teaching load. I have the flexibility to chase after people a little more and be available to supervise completing work at odd times. But, I also know that a colleague of mine who has a typical teaching load also does a lot of personal meetings with students for review and retesting. So, it is possible personalize the process.
I still liked that students owned some of the timing and decision-making around the test. It was not a secret test in that it followed a known format and review sheet so sharing information about it was not going to matter. I had already shared it. I didn’t like how much follow-up there was for me.
Would I do it again?
I think I might. However, I think I be either less or much more ambitious. Here’s what I mean. Less ambitious would be: the test was a little shorter (it was a little long, I admit), the other work was not a turn-it-in situation, but rather a work on something that is ongoing (too much for me to keep track of), I would not do this at time when there were lots of absences/trips planned. On other hand, more ambitious would be: here are 4 days and a selection of products that need to come in. Tell me what you plan to do each day, stick to your schedule, come in and work quietly (this is key) at your own pace.
Hmmm. What do you think?