I saw the moon for the first time!

It’s been a long week. A week of struggles in my head concerning happenings in my classroom. All started this week when to comply with RTI I had to make a list of my Fs and Ds. My list was freakishly long. Reason was the first test I gave. Well not only reason, those with Fs missed at least 2 more assignments in addition to bombing the test.

So that’s where I’m torn. I tell the kids so many times a day we have one goal: “to learn something new every day not make an A! If you learn what you need to learn, you will make that grade.” So did they learn?! If they did, they should make the grade according to this.

So I had an “ah ha” moment during 1st period. A student started waving her hands like crazy while I was explain a penumbra. Annoyed I called on her and asked if she had a question. She blurted out “I saw the moon for the first time. Like really looked at it. I had never done that before.” Seriously? She had never looked at the moon? They are doing a project on moon phases where they have to sketch & comment on the moon every night. She not only did that but did it and took something away from it. That’s the stuff that is important. Not that stupid test.

So I’m dropping the test (except for the As). I have to. My class is about learning not testing. They will retake the test on Wednesday, but they now know the importance of it. I have to be careful and make sure they know I will not ever do this again but it’s just as important they know WHY I am doing it.

My most frusterating part of this is they knew that stuff but couldn’t connect it to the test. I’m still looking for ways to teach this (suggestions welcome lol). I want them to take what they know and apply it to everything, including simple test. I now have a new goal with this group.


(written on phone so if a number of typos let me know 🙂

12 Comments Add yours

  1. dunsiger says:

    Wow! This group of students is very lucky to have you as their teacher.

    Last year, I started adding this signature to my e-mail: “If they don’t learn the way you teach, teach the way they learn.” I don’t know who said this, but I do know that I really believe in these words, and I can tell that you do too. Here you are willing to change your teaching to make sure that all students are successful. And with you as their teacher, I have no doubt that they will be!

    Awesome post, Amanda!

  2. I think you did the right thing. You may want to look into standards-based grading if you have not already. Philosophically, it seems that you are similar in thinking to the general tenets. Here is a great into by @mctownsley: http://jasontbedell.com/tenets-of-assessmentgrading-reform. Basically, students can retake tests or demonstrate standard/objective mastery in another way. We differentiate assessment as we differentiate instruction and allow the students different chances, opportunities, and ways to demonstrate their mastery without punishment.

  3. If more teachers taught like you and allowed students to get creative and think outside the box to connect teaching with learning, our school system would be a better place for our children.

  4. That was a great move! When it comes to long term learning, creativity and application takes the lead ahead of tests.
    From your post, I can get a fair idea of the degree of creativity of your students. For such students, I feel that the they can be made to frame the questions during the class sessions. The students can be allowed to frame questions and they can be put up for the others to solve. I feel that such a method might prepare them to face the testing scenario in a better manner.
    Would love to hear yours and others’ view on this.

  5. Ed says:

    I wish more teaching was about learning rather than tests. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Carol Wilcox says:

    My son, a high school junior, struggles mightily in school. He knows he doesn’t test well and has a hard time memorizing. At this point, he has pretty much given up on studying for tests because he doesn’t believe it will do any good. His frustration and discouragement and frustration is heartbreaking to me, both as a mom and a teacher.

    About six months ago, he decided he wanted to get his driver’s permit. He took a five day class, studied the book, and still failed the test. We went to the drivers’ bureau and he took the test again, failed it, studied, and then finally passed on the third try. I keep wishing teachers would let him take school tests the same way. I don’t see why it would make any difference if he passed on the first try or the third, as long as he eventually passed.

  7. Josh says:

    Too often we (as educators) forget that students don’t always get the same experiences as we do. I’ve been lucky to not have lived in a large city for most of my life. I’ve seen the night sky without light pollution. So many of our kids have no idea what the sky really looks like. Way to give your students the opportunity to stop and see what’s around them. Keep up the great work!

  8. ktenkely says:

    The title of this post is awesome. We all need to give our students time to look at the moon for the first time. They all need those moments when true learning has occurred. They are beautiful moments and there aren’t nearly enough of them in school. I think you did the right thing by dropping this test. It wasn’t a true reflection. Give them time, I hope they dazzle you on the next test.

  9. Andrew Forgrave says:

    You got one! “Seeing the moon for the first time” is a student’s “aha” moment.  And that gave you yours. So that experience was positive for both of you. Truly a moment to celebrate!

    Perception >> Attitude >> Behaviour. 

    Seeing (in a new way) is the first step in the cycle. In this case, connecting with the concrete made an impact for one student.  Perhaps we all need to remember that, regardless of the age of our learners.

    A great story!

  10. amandacdykes says:

    Thank you all for your kind words. The students took the test again. To my dismay the majority had failed again. Seven questions and they refused to take the time to look over it. I even changed the format to be simple and students who just looked at the info once could pass. I asked the kids “who studied?” and of course the ones who did made A’s. I know that assessments in this form are not the best practices but they are the method I must use. I have to give tests. When ask why they did not, most said because they did not care. I am defeated. They apparently do not care enough about this class to show what they know. They do not care enough about me to thank me for giving them this opportunity to improve and relearn materials. Yes some are learning. Some are striving to do their best. Others, are not. I gave them an opportunity to bring home progress reports next week with a dramatically different grade and they declined the favor. I feel as though I have been punched in the gut.

  11. Amanda:

    What format was the test? Multiple choice? Short answer? Fill-in-the-blank? Some kids are not good at tests like these. Some are. Can you provide multiple assessment options for your students? They can choose which one to show you what they know and are able to do.

    I was a test-taker. Tests were always very easy for me. My own children are NOT good test-takers, and they have major text anxiety. Give them a project or a diagram, and they’ll ace it… but not a typical test with the formats I asked about above.

    What if, instead of the test, you asked them to design a project that showed you that they knew and understood the answers you needed from them on the test… but instead, it was something they designed themselves? Some of those who didn’t care about studying for the test might be more motivated to demonstrate their understanding in a different way. Maybe they write a song. Maybe they create a podcast. You give them the information that must be included, but let them decide. I think you might find some motivation in these kids that you didn’t see before.

  12. amandacdykes says:

    Michelle, I gave the test 3 different ways, even gave them a 3rd option. Seriously I was to tell me the steps of the Scientific method. They were given the steps out of order. Some were given a word bank. I told a lot of time to make sure they had test that fit them best. They had things like “report results” at the top and “Formulate hypothesis” at bottom. The ones who made an F I talked to each personally. Each told me they didn’t study, forgot, or did not want to. My favorite was “Its not math or reading” Not one looked at the material until that second before the assessment.

    They did have a project on this. About 2/3 did OK on it. That project goes into their grading as well. Unfortunately the ones who failed mostly have more than 2 zeros on other projects as well. I try to make it where tests and quizzes don’t kill a grade, but they do when the other grades are Fs as well.

    I understand test anxiety, I have it too. That’s why I did so well in grad school, no tests. But I make sure all tests are less intimidating. Seriously, my last quiz was with a pie pan, flour, and a rock. I give them many other opportunities.

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