Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Take the Test!

If you're preparing students for a test, take it first.  Sounds so simple, but how many of us neglect to sit down and take the test.

I just took a combination elementary-middle school-high school standardized math test.  I've completed problems before, but I never sat down and took the whole test.  I can't even believe that this is true.

As I took the test, I realized the following.
  • The necessary neatness and organization requires stamina.  I found myself doing exactly what the students do: messy cross-outs, hasty answers and an unwillingness to clearly explain my thinking.  That's not easy.
  • I was happy that I could use the computer to look up forgotten theorems, vocabulary and examples.  It would be nice if students could use their computers in that way.
  • Repetition helps as once I figured out and mastered a problem type, I could easily replicate that process.
As far as I know Common Core versions of standardized tests are not ready for our review and practice yet, but a worthy collaborative exercise for any team of teachers is to take the test first, prior to teaching.   If you've got a Common Core version available, please send me the link.  Past Massachusetts' MCAS tests can offer tests that will probably be somewhat similar to the new tests, but not exactly the same as our tests are changing too.