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Saturday, January 23, 2010

You have GOT to be kidding me

Yesterday, we gave an Objective 1 math test. Objective 1 covers most of the basics of mathematics -- all 4 operations, place value, putting numbers in order, rounding, counting money, and fractions.

There were 21 questions on the test. We did absolutely nothing else during class all day. We started the test as soon as the kids sat down. Some kids even worked on the test outside during our Friday recess time.

Still, I had 7 kids who did not finish the test. 2 of them only completed the first 14 questions.

I certainly do not want my kids to race recklessly through a test, answering without thinking, and trying to get done as quickly as possible. However, 2 and a half hours is more than enough time to complete 21 rather basic math questions. In each class, after 1 hour, I made an announcement that people not on at least question 10 were working too slowly and spending too much time on problems, and that they needed to work a little faster to finish on time. I then went around and cajoled individuals who were still on question 4 or 5. I announced a half hour remaining. I announced 20 minutes and then 10 minutes remaining. Did it speed these kids up? No, of course not.

Now, I find myself very torn on what to do. I am sorely tempted to count the unfinished problems incorrect and move on with Monday's plans. However, in addition to making for extremely low grades for those kids who did not finish, I also don't get a true feel for whether or not they actually CAN answer some of those later questions. But, if I devote class time on Monday to finishing, I have no doubt that the kids who only did 14 questions in 2 and a half hours will take the entire class time on Monday to finish -- if then!!

Anybody ever have this kind of experience? What do you do??

11 comments:

Chris Osborne said...

last week I had a class who took a pretest with the sub the day before. The entire class didn't finish, so I had them finish with me.

Here's where it starts to line up with your situation. After a while enough kids were done that I thought we could go on with that day's plans, which was to play a math game the whole time.

I told all of the kids that hadn't finished yet to go to a table on the side of the room, gave them the test, and told them to finish up and when they were done they could come play with everyone else.

hloy said...

For this situation, I have no advice. My experience, limited though it may be, has taught me that students will take advantage of you until you put your foot down. However, maybe for future tests you could tell students a tip for taking any test is to read through it and answer all of the questions you KNOW how to do, then go back and work the ones you aren't as sure of - that way you know what the students know and see which concepts they may be struggling with.

nicholas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nick James said...

My students take an ungodly amount of time to complete any assignment given them. When I start lightening up and giving them extra time, they take it and an additional twenty minutes.

Personally I'd mark them wrong on the ones incomplete and then MAYBE give them the option of finishing outside of class time. That puts the responsibility on them. As you said, their completion is important data to help you move forward, but you do have to move forward or it's unfair to the students actually working.

Clix said...

I'm with Nick on this; I'd also contact parents, though, to encourage them to have the student come by after school & to keep them informed.

Mrs. H said...

Maybe your students are too young for this, but I teach my kids to read the problem and immediately decide whether or not they know how to do it. If not, circle it and go on. (It takes a lot of training to get HS students to do this) They should go through the entire assessment and do the "easy" ones first. When they are done, they go back to the circled problems. Sometimes their brain will "unfreeze" while working on the other problems. After they try the circled problems again, they should then make their best guess on anything they still don't know how to do. I also try to get them to decide ahead of time which letter they will use for every single "guess". Guessing the same letter every time will increase the odds of getting a few correct.

Again, this might not be a good method for elementary. I'm just throwing out some test taking skills I use with my HS kids. Spending 10-15 minutes on a problem is only going to lead to frustration and will actually decrease their overall score because they are wasting precious brain energy they could be using for the "easy" problems.

kherbert said...

I would mark the unfinished questions wrong. Then I would give them recess (30 min at my school) to redo all wrong problems at 1/2 credit.

I have found that because my district gives all day proficiency tests starting in 1st grade - kids get the idea that they can take all day on any test.

I have started giving 2 minutes per problem on independent work. The first few times there are howls of protest that it isn't fair. even a few phone calls, but a blunt "Do you think it should take longer than 20 minutes to do 10 multipication problems?" Usually gets the parents on my side. Especially when they are told their child had a 2nd chance to finish the problems and refused to work.

Soon they are buckling down and actually working instead of staring into space 90% of the time.

Ginger Snaps said...

I have had a few students like this in the past and it is SOOO frustrating. MOVE ON! They gotta learn sometime. I'm not cool with starin' off into space and wasting my time!

Mister Teacher said...

hloy, and Mrs. H -- I think those are good suggestions, except that I really don't think that the reason these kids were so slow is because they had encountered difficult questions. These questions were not hard at all. They are just slow as mud.

Nick, Clix, and KH -- Actually, what I did on Friday was what you suggested. I kept telling them that I was going to mark every unanswered question incorrect, but that they would still have to finish the test regardless. Didn't speed them up one bit. I'll still be spending just as much class time tomorrow letting them finish, I guess. Unfortunately, many of these kids just don't care one bit about their grade. A 20 means nothing to them.

Also, we don't have recess per se at our school anymore. We sometimes take a half hour on Fridays after lunch, but the kids don't go out M-Th. Though most of these kids DID work on their tests outside on Friday, I still had those who didn't finish.

So frustrating.

Lsquared said...

My son's fourth grade teacher did something that might work, when they were working on timed tests and she wanted to know what they really knew:
1. She gave them a blank page with problem numbers, but no problems
2. She put the problems up one at a time on the overhead projector, and kids wrote the answers next to the appropriate problem number
3. After some number of seconds (in your case, maybe 5-8 minutes? Maybe set a timer, and you have to move on when it dings?) she would take down a problem and put up the next problem. If you weren't done when she switched problems, you left it blank and moved on.

Students don't have enough time to do the problems they don't know how to do, but they have to move on and try the later problems, so they don't just get hung up on a problem and never move on.

It wouldn't solve your problem today, of course, but it might be worth a try next time

lillyjayne said...

If I had a son or daughter who was unable to complete 21 math questions in 2.5 hours, I would want to know about it. What better way to call attention to the problem than to flunk them? I'd give them an F, move on with the next day's lesson, and wait for the parents to contact me. Then I'd work out a way for the student to earn back some of those lost points. The bottom line is, what is really going on for each of them? Why are they not finishing?

I really like Lsquared's scenario! Sounds brilliant. Narrows down which questions are the easy ones for which students right away.