Monday, November 2, 2009


So far it seems like the only form of assessment are tests & quizes. My CT gives points each day for class work and homework, but I wouldn't really count these grades as a form of assessment. Points for both are awarded on whether or not you completed the assignment. Doing an assignment doesn't necessarily mean understanding it. An efficient approach can be to copy the assignment from someone who understands it best. It seems though that waiting until a test or quiz to find out info about students' progress is too late. I will sometimes go around and ask students what they learned from a particular activity or exercise. Students rarely seem to understand what the meaning is behind what they are doing and/or they don't have the words to explain what they do understand. I'm wondering how one teaches students to explain their reasoning other than modeling it for them and requiring them to do it over and over.

Students don't seem particularly accountable for their work either. A class typically goes like this: The CT checks for homework completion as students check their answers/finish up their work. Then the CT lectures or leads an activity. Then there are book problems. It is usually unclear to me whether these problems are considered class work or homework. Many students opt not to do the work in class and instead say that they're just going to do it for homework. It is unclear however if the CT checks that the classwork got completed. Also, I'm not sure what the mechanism is for assessing understanding through class work. Whether or not there's assessment or accountability, it seems like an extraordinary amount of class time is wasted by students choosing not to work. I can understand that students might need some time to disengage, but class time does seem like the best time to do the work so that they can get ideas/feedback from the teacher and classmates. It also seems to breed a culture of slacking in the classroom. This is the part that troubles me most.

As I think about taking over these classrooms in January, I have to say that I am quite nervous to see how students respond to my accountability measures. How do I keep kids working for the entire 50 minute period if they are used to checking out for the last half?

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