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Extra tests and infrastructure

November 6, 2011

I’ve been wrestling with two main things lately in my teaching. Parent reactions, and managing extra test paperwork. My bosses (bless them) are keeping the brunt of the former off of me for now, and I’m making progress on the latter. In the interest of staying positive, I’ll talk about that a bit.

As I’ve mentioned earlier I give extra tests on Wednesdays after a student has filled out my google form to take an extra test. Bringing the webform online was a huge help in reducing the stress/workload and making things run more smoothly. Step 2 has started taking shape. I have set up a Word document on my computer for each standard. Each document has as many good quiz questions on it as I have come up with. My own personal test bank. When Tuesday night rolls around and I need to crank out between twelve and twenty extra tests, it should largely be a matter of copy and paste, rather than a matter of reinvention.

I went through a little Q and A with myself on this process; went something like this:

Me: “Why a test bank? Are you that lazy?”

Self: “To streamline the process and improve the results. Reinventing the wheel isn’t totally devoid of merit, but there’s something to be said for saving some intellectual energy. Creating the same test question over and over again just adds to burnout without improving a darn thing for the kids. I don’t mind spending sanity, but I want to spend it on something worthwhile. A test bank will allow me to ”

Me: “Surely you can pull decent physics questions out of the air on the spot in a matter of minutes?”

Self: “Well, yes, sure, I can. Decent questions. Good questions? That’s somewhat up in the air. I don’t know how many of the off the cuff questions end up being all that great. And don’t forget that a matter of minutes adds up quickly when you’ve got over a dozen tiny stressed out people chomping at the metaphorical bit to demonstrate some mastery.”

Me: “…I still think that any attempt to avoid effort is a sign of weakness and you should be shunned.”

Self: “Yeah man, we really need to get over that.

So far there hasn’t been much of an upside to this. Indeed it’s been more work in the short term. I think and hope that it will pay dividends in the long term.

Full disclosure: I was inspired to write this up by Kelly O’Shea’s recent post on the subject. More often than not I’m inspired to write by something Kelly has done. She’s darn handy like that.

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