30 November 2011

What's the point?

I gave a Quest to my CP classes yesterday and they were less than stellar.  We did all of the HW in class and, for the most part, the kids understood +90%.  We did a lab and they understood that too.  We did a review sheet and review game and they got it.  But the average on the Quest was under 70% (as an aside, 2 students scored above 100%).

I looked at the Quests and realized that it didn't measure what I wanted it to measure.  I want my students to be able to APPLY what we learn in class.  For the HW, review sheet and game, they were allowed to use their reference sheets, but I told them all along they needed to memorize the information on it.  But, for the Quest, no reference sheets were allowed.  Most of the students made their compounds exactly right, but because they didn't remember the names and formulas, they got the answers entirely wrong.  The Quest grading memorization and not application and that is the exact opposite of what I told them we would be doing in class.

So I asked myself "what's the point of this assignment?"  Well, the point was for the students to demonstrate they knew how to name and form compounds.  I couldn't erase what happened yesterday so I chose to put a band-aid on it.  I created a new, slightly shorter, assignment right before class.  I told the students to use their ion sheets to complete the assignment and that it would be averaged into the grade from the Quest.  They were much happier after completing the new assessment because they knew they would get a boost.

I think the real point here is what I need to do moving forward.  Taking a page from Josh Stumpenhorst's playbook, I try not to give HW unless I find it meaningful.  All HW is completed in class with peer and teacher support to eliminate any confusions from the start.  So the problem is in the Quests.  I have to find a way to make the Quests a meaningful measurement of applied knowledge.  I have about 2 weeks before the next Quest so I would love ideas on how to make this happen.