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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Weird Science

Several years ago, I realized that my little third graders just can’t handle free response questions on a science test. So I decided to write my own tests for them, with multiple choice answers—similar to what they would be seeing on benchmarks and TAKS.

In the style of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? there are often a few “silly” answers; choices that I thought nobody would possibly pick. I have used these tests for three years now, and I am continually amazed at my initial cluelessness.

I gave the first such test to my kids this past Friday. The topic was plants and photosynthesis, and the second question was:

Where do plants get the energy to make their own food?
A) Fruit
B) The Sun
C) Gasoline
D) Mister Teacher

Many of the kids, when they saw my name up there, snickered and pointed. But four kids (out of 37) CHOSE ME!!!! And one of them is in the Talented and Gifted program!! Yeah, like I go around the world endowing plants with life force, gently whispering, “Grow…Grow little seedlings!!”

One boy did choose gasoline. Maybe he was thinking of those new John Deere roses…

There are only 5 questions on the test, so some kids finish quickly, while others are more ponderous. So in order not to have a bunch of kids getting into trouble while their classmates finished, I told them that when they finished the test, they could write on the back. Write something they had learned, or write a little story about the topic we had studied. Only a few kids did this, but they were very interesting submissions.

One little girl wrote this:
“Dear piece of paper,
Today we took a sience test and a math test to. This test is very important to me and I do not want to fail so Lord plese help me pass.”

Another girl wove all of the silly answers into a story:
“Ther was a monkey calld Mr. Teacher that like lime juice that he eat a kind of seed then he got sik.”

They blinded me! With… well, whatever the opposite of Science is….


Mrs. T said...

Intelligent Design?

Chris said...

Your class sounds like a hoot ... and good luck with your book!

I would like to suggest a link for you and your students - K12Station:

K12Station Home Page

I am the web developer and content manager for the site, which is a free library of over 20,000 links to educational content for K-12 teachers and students. The library has a lot of links to neat sites for a third-grade classroom.

If you like the site, please "spread the word" - you could even create a link to us on your blog? And I also post a new “Site of the Day” for teachers on my blog … you can check it out at:

Site of the Day

Thanks, and happy blogging!

- Chris

StyleyGeek said...

Maybe they thought it was a trick question. After all, you probably put your pot plants in the sun and feed them plant food from time to time...