Tests make you stupid…

I know that is a weird title but its true! Last night I was creating a test for my students. I have to have 400-600 points a nine weeks from tests. My tests have to reflect the knowledge of content standards. Ok so this makes total sense – a typical standard in education. Here is my problem, its crap. I’m writing this question and stop: “Which of the following is NOT a gas found in the ocean?” I just looked at it and thought, “WHO CARES?!” I mean do you? Will this somehow help you in the future? Will this get you a job? ? Well maybe at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, but I mean really? Why on Earth would I ask a bunch of 12 year old kids this?

This whole concept is also bumping into another issue I have had this week. How to get the students to answer higher-level thinking questions. I would rather ask “Describe a way water from an upwelling differs from the water around it.” or “What might cause a current to change direction?” If I put that question on a test I would get answers like “it came up” or “the density” or nothing at all.  If I asked it a loud to my class I would get beautiful answers probably some arguing over who is right (except 2nd block, can’t figure out them out, but I do know they hate to think).

That leads me to my next problem. These kids can use google earth to find the continental shelf, but they cannot tell me the chemicals in the ocean. I’m sorry but I would rather them know how to view a satellite image. But how to I record this, grade this, etc?

I can keep a check list, but my parents are so funny about me proving why they go their grades. I use a lot of rubrics, mostly because it is easy for me to keep up with – I use forms in google docs – but how can I get these kids to show me their thinking? How can I get them to share what is on their minds?

My idea is to start putting one or two questions online a week and allowing them to answer using the anonymity of the internet (I would know who answers). The question now is to decide what to use. The suggestions I have received are: voice thread, wikis, blogs, or edmodo. My students are not to “techy” beyond BeBo and text messages. So I don’t want this to be about the technology. I want it to be about the work.  I have not decided on what to do yet, but I’m in the process. Just wanted to share what’s on my mind with this, if you have suggestions or success stories on this please share…

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