We spent yesterday doing the maligned whole-group instruction, but I did not see an alternative. We went over the ideas in the bubble test, one by one, along with strategies for multiple choice tests when you don’t even have a clue where to start. A few of them had most of the ideas at the end. We’ll see how it goes.
Eduhonesty: Bubbles here, bubbles there. They probably see bubbles in their sleep. I’m sure they do. I know I test in my sleep.
All I have taught for the last couple of weeks is how to do test problems on the next set of tests. That might be alright, if the problems were the right problems. But these problems are preparing my students for seventh grade PARCC exams when the average academic level in one class is third grade. The students in this class need to learn fundamentals. They need more time for fundamentals than I am able to provide them because I need to keep them from failing these impossible exams. Scratch that. They are going to fail. I need to provide them with some successes, an occasional right answer.
Personally, I don’t think I am testing math skills. If I were testing math skills, I would be filling in the gaps in their knowledge base and testing them on that material. I would be laying a foundation for future work. I doubt I am doing that because my efforts are too specifically focused on narrow sets of materials needed to pass required proficiency exams written by people who have watched “Field of Dreams” too many times. If you write the test, they will not magically leap the missing four years of mathematics that previous tests have documented.
No, I don’t feel as if I am testing math skills. I feel as if I am testing resiliency. How many times can a given student survive being made to feel stupid? When I regularly hand that student a test filled with questions that are pitched years above that student’s operating level, I make that kid feel stupid. I keep giving pep talks, but those pep talks might as well be bandages on third-degree burns. What are we doing to our students’ self-images when we make this kind of testing a way of life?