Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Review - or lack thereof

In the past, I have given "unit" tests. Taught the concepts that (loosely) fit together, did a couple of days of review at the end of the "unit," and then gave a test (which was about every 2-3 weeks). Last year, I started doing feedback only quizzes, which I ended up abandoning - I have *never* done quizzes well. I wasn't completely happy with how things went testing wise last year. Here are my previous posts on the revisions I made from last year.

So, at the moment I am teaching 3 concepts and then quizzing 6 concepts - the most recent 3 are being given feedback only, the 3 before that are being graded. For example, most of my classes are getting graded on Learning Targets 4-6 this week and being given feedback on Learning Targets 7-9. I'm not really sure I'm liking this at the moment. My main beefs at the moment are -

1) I feel like I am constantly assessing my students. At the moment (especially since these are easier concepts that are mostly review for my students), I am quizzing about every 5 days (or once a week). Multiply that times 3 preps and you get the picture...

2) I am not reviewing with students in class. There is a part of me that says that my students - especially the ones in Algebra 2 and Advanced Algebra 2 who want to be heading to college - need to learn to do some outside preparation. I think the reality is that my students have no idea how to prepare for a math test. Without doing some sort of review in class, I don't think they do anything to prep for a test. For the upcoming Advanced Algebra 2 and Algebra 2 quizzes (Thursday and Friday respectively), I put together a short review sheet just over the Learning Targets that are being graded (4-6) along with answers. I'm intending to give some time to answering any questions from it, but I don't want to devote a whole period to it. If I do that, I will end up losing a lot more time in the classroom and I don't think that's the answer either.

3) Writing feedback on quizzes certainly takes a long time. I can't honestly say I'm "being less helpful" in them. I am really making an effort to not use the second person pronoun unless I am saying something positive - and sometimes, that is really hard. (Thanks @RobertTalbert for the suggestion.) But I think it is less critical to students and I am hoping they are more receptive to the comments.

Any comments or suggestions from my readers? I'm especially struggling with #2. I am not sure how to best accommodate review for my students (who I think probably need it). Do I just bite the bullet and review in front of every quiz? Do I restructure and go back to giving tests at the end of each "unit" and throw in feedback only quizzes in the meantime? Does someone else have some other brilliant suggestion? Please help! Thanks in advance. - hope to see you in the comments.


Amy Gruen said...

I assess my students in the more traditional way, so I am actually commenting to tell you that I have a lot of the same questions. I love the philosophy behind what you're doing -- I want learning to be continuous and ongoing. I don't want it to end abruptly with a test at the end of the unit. But I cannot wrap my brain around the logistics involved. So, I am watching you and cheering for you! Maybe some day I will jump in an try, too. :)

meandthedoor said...

I think you're on the right track with the no review - when you're continually doing assessments like this it would totally take over your class! Maybe you do want to spend a couple perioods explicitly modeling different review strategies and sharing some different resrouces they have available to them for review?

For me, I find it takes a little while for the natural consequences of not doing any review themselves to kick in... Natural consequences and maybe a phone call home :P


Albie said...

Do you think that if you were teaching a younger grade, maybe middle school, you would do more reviewing?

Lisa said...

@Amy - thanks for the encouragement.

@park_star - I'd like to think I'm on the right track, but I have serious concerns that my students will pick up the slack. The constant assessment is already wearing on me though.

@Albie - I would probably take a slightly different approach if I were teaching middle school. Not totally sure what that is at the moment though.


John said...

I really like @park_star's idea about being meta with review. Get them developing ways to review and adapting for themselves. Maybe an occasional review day where it's really choice for them to work on something in class?

Would it make your feedback more efficient if you wrote the feedback note separately and then distributed it (copies, internet) to the whole class?

Also wondering if you could semi-SBAR, and grade all 6, but replace lower grades with higher later grades. If they get a high mark the first time, don't need to reassess, which cuts down on your work.

T. Banks said...

1) I go over every quiz, even with me putting tons of feedback on it.

2) I plan a big review game once every 2 weeks. So that works out approx. in 11 days 7 days of teaching, 3 quizzes and 1 review.

3) Bellringers have to be geared towards missed quiz questions, IMO.