I haven't blogged in so long I've almost forgotten how. I had all kinds of ideas I wanted to blog and no time to do it in- now the situation is reversed. I'm going to blog my most recent calamity in hopes that that will jog my memory...
I wrote really good final exams.
I worked really hard and am really proud of what I accomplished.
Then the students took them.
In the past two years, I wrote terrible finals. Things we never really talked about, missing graphs and diagrams, questions with no answers, etc. It was bad. I cried.
This year, they cried. Okay, only one actually cried.
I created the tests. Then I broke the material up into three different days of review in order to cover everything. We did worksheets, whole class reviews, group game reviews, working one problem at a time, and so on. After each concept we've learned, we stop and write an index card on how to do it and an example problem. The students were allowed to use these index cards on the final.
Each test was 35 questions. 30 multiple choice, 5 open-ended, and all of them required thinking. It took the majority of the students the entire hour and twenty minutes to finish. It was hard and they told me about it. But only one person said they felt like it was things we had never done before. That's a huge improvement for me personally. The grades were not very good. About half failed. Out of all of my classes I had one A. One. Wow. I think I surprised even myself. I felt compassion for them but not guilt like in previous years.
But in a lot of cases, I felt like the grade truly represented their knowledge And in some it clearly didn't.
I honestly feel like the content of the tests was within their reach. They're just not used to stretchig.
This single event has taught me the importance of backward design more than everything I have read, heard, and discussed with others. I'm all excited to plan my unit tests ahead of time during the next semester. I know I should have done this from the beginning so I don't need a lecture on that.
My dilemma is, what do I do with the students' grades? Do I let them stand in hopes that students will take things more seriously and try harder? Do I cushion them because my unit tests didn't line up with the final exam and that's my fault? Do I give them a chance to make corrections when it is supposed to be a summary of everything they've learned? Do I just get over feeling bad when it's only the first semester and I let them use index cards as well? Will I get in trouble when my principal sees such terrible grades?
I need help from all you final exam fairies.
P.S. I started teaching things in December that I was teaching last year in February. I beat myself by two months. That is the power of a pacing guide people!