Day 89: What I Learned from Grading Exams This Year

Here's what I learned from grading exams this year:

  • When asking students to design an experiment, someone in every class will try to use every piece of equipment you offer to them to use.
  • The better the student is at mathematics, the more likely the student will overcomplicate an experiment.
  • Nobody seems to know what a motion detector is.
  • We used motion detectors on at least eight labs. I called them motion detectors every time.
  • I told my students they didn't HAVE TO simplify their answers. So they didn't. And that meant future questions got harder to do. Also, it meant that they couldn't tell how the answer to part (b) and to part (c) looked oddly the same...
  • My students really understand velocity-time graphs. I feel like they must have learned that in math class or something.
  • My students really don't like solving problems with variables. I feel like this is 100% my fault.
  • Simply restating what is in the problem is not justification.
  • In the last ten minutes of class, when students are hoping for inspiration to strike, it's fun to watch what they're doing on their papers. I saw at least two students writing and rewriting the µ's on their papers so that the descending bit was just so.
  • As a whole, my students are learning more than my students did last year, but they're not where I want them yet. I can't ask for anything more as a teacher.

Day 87: Grading the Reassessment Storm

Yesterday, I finished grading the reassessment storm. It was a storm of the century.

OK, this is only my second year of using standards-based grading. I'm happy with it, but I feel I still have a few major changes to make until it works well for my students, allowing me to spend future years making endless tweaks to the system to polish it or try new things. But this year's SBG had a fatal flaw. The calendar.

We had just one week of classes after winter break before exams started. Last year, we had two weeks. When we had two weeks of classes after break before exams, I told my classes right when we got back that they only had one week to schedule their last reassessments, which all had to be finished before exams started. 

Perhaps you can see where this is going. This year, I told them the week before break that they had to schedule before break to take reassessments after break.

I just counted. I had 208 standards reassessed. I only have 64 students on my roster. (Admittedly, 19 of those students have me for a double period every day, so I'm responsible for 83 credits being earned this year.) Most of them studied over break for the assessments. But since break seems long before you go on break but ends up being much more Netflix and Mario than you thought, many students weren't prepared for the 12 or 14 standards they thought they'd reassess in a week. Many of the reassessments just confirmed their previous ranking on that standard. 

And, on the bright side, I have a lot of good assessments, and a few that I know that aren't that great.