Posts Tagged ‘high school’
I hestitated including sample questions just in case students happened upon this site, but I sucked it up and got over it. As per request, here are three representative questions from the harder parts of my Bill of Rights test.
Assume justices on the Supreme Court determined that Americans possess a right to privacy. Which Amendment could not have implied that right?
According to the precise wording of the Eighth Amendment, which of the following actions is prohibited to government agents?
a. Forcing self-incrimination.
b. Torture of potential terrorists.
c. Every type of execution ever.
d. Cruel and unusual punishment.
Soldiers enter your home to stay the night without permission of its owner. They find a gun that is illegal to own under federal law. Which amendment’s protections would not be debated?
That’s what I’m talking about.
These questions require students to piece together what they know about all amendments in question, and then go through the process of elimination.
Keeping with common practice, all the questions are complete sentences, and all answers are generally about the same length.
Your test was too hard.
No, it wasn’t.
The average percentage was failing.
No, it wasn’t.
Confused readers: Let’s do the math. There were 30 multiple-choice questions on this test, each worth two points. The maximum possible score, obviously — he said wryly — is 50 points. Think about it. She saw that most students scored between 14 and 21, and kept 30 as the denominator rather than 25.
To her credit, my master teacher had not heard about my scoring, and had applied her favored conclusion to the issue of test difficutly: Another Student Teacher Mistake.
The 50 points will later be combined with their grades from their two essay questions — 25 points each — to create a psychologically ideal 100-point test.
It was too hard.
No, it wasn’t.
Sure, the questions are hard, but on purpose. Sure, many were just barely beyond the grasp of most of our students. On purpose.
The highest score in either class on the multiple choice was a 24 correct out of 30, and that was from a pretty bright student, and exactly as planned.
Perfect scores mean that it’s possible that the test was too easy, and that, for at least one student, the test did not require thinking. Thinking, by design, is difficult. It is often frustrating. Getting students to think is my goal. Therefore, I would be remiss if I did not make all students think: especially the highest achievers.
Easy tests bore the smart students, lower the depth and breadth of preparation among the middle students and panders to the lowest achievers.
I told my master teacher, when I knew how to phrase it, that I would assess the test results, and I would make adjustments as necessary. That is, I would score the test as intended, which would appear to her as last-minute changes.
Make adjustments as necessary. I like it.
She then abruptly turned and went back to work, as if her intervention had goaded me into this decision. She gets like this frequently, and I’ve learned to deal with it. Generally, I like to delude myself into believing that I know what I’m doing.
Part Four of Four in my series on my two master teachers.
My master teacher consoled a fellow student teacher, and I overheard him:
Never live too close to where you teach, especially when you start out. You sometimes need that drive back home to decompress.
I need the drive home, too. Teaching his classes is regularly frustrating. It’s an uphill battle against some students who never show up. Against some who do, rarely. Against those who are there every day, and immediately enter their 55-minute coma. Against those who are awake, but insist on avoiding work at any cost.
Against some of the rest, who know I’m nothing like my beloved master teacher.
He writes his lessons on the fly, and without much preparation. He knows which copies to make for which week, and he doesn’t usually put together handouts. He believes: Keep It Simple, Stupid; work smarter, not harder.
Students might do a textbook inventory, looking for people, events or vocabluary in the book and placing it in the appropriate spot on a timeline. Students might read from his copies of the TCI curriculum, and do the TCI activities. Students, given their parents’ permission, might watch Schindler’s List as half of the Holocaust unit.
These plans are easy to write, and they’re effective.
I don’t know if his compliments have any perspective: He hasn’t had a student teacher before. He did tell me me that I’m ahead of where he was as a student teacher, at least in terms of knowledge of the material.
Hanging out with the kids was the easy part for me. It was the subject that gave me trouble.
My skills are inverted from him, and so I have a long way to go.