It is that time of year again when teachers all over the country are preparing for final exams. Although many teachers have their testing strategy down to a science, I know many others (myself included) that have mixed feelings when it comes to balancing the forces involved in finals. Personally, I am at a crossroads with this summative test. For the last decade, I have administered exam books with literally hundreds of multiple choice questions covering all the major strands of my class. I've almost always incorporated an essay section a few weeks before the end of the term, which counted toward the test score, but on the actual test day, I have watched bubble after bubble after bubble. It has always felt like a strange ritual that served many purposes, but did not really incapsulate exactly what I really wanted students to learn or honor the best practices that I try to use consistently all semester. In the big picture of the semester, regardless of grade level, I most value critical reading and articulate, argumentative analysis of literature. Given my values, I think it is time for me (and maybe you?) to rethink the traditional final exam. Below is the process I am going through. I'd love to hear your questions, comments, or suggestions in the comment section below! I've learned and grown so much as a teacher through the comments here on the blog as well as on our social media and I'm willing to bet others have read your comments with some of the same enthusiasm for new ideas!
During this time of year, students across the country feel anxiety levels begin to creep up due to the onslaught of high stakes testing. Some take it all in stride, while others reach panic mode before the first bubble is even filled in. Whether they are taking the SAT, ACT, State Proficiency Test, Common Core Assessment, Advanced Placement Test, finals, or any other high stakes test, the pressure on students can be very real. For some, test results will go a long way toward high school graduation or college acceptance. So how do we help them deal with the anxiety associated with these tests? I'm sharing some ideas below, and I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section following this post.
As we enter December, most high school teachers are preparing to end the semester, which means entering grades, contacting parents, wrapping up major units, and creating a final exam (among 100 other last minute tasks). Making a final exam can be a daunting process, so this week I want to share some tips that I've picked up over the years and I would love to hear your questions, comments, and suggestions in the comment section below!