Saturday, September 13, 2008

Life's Surprise Pop Quizzes

We are being judged and evaluated all the time, and we may not realize it. In fact sometimes we may think we're getting away with things when really we're not. This past week seemed to be full of those "pop quizzes", and now my outlook on a variety of people has altered.

test1: I gave my first test in precalculus this week. As I walked around the room, I noticed the continuously wandering eye of one boy. I stood near him after that and asked him to keep his knees forward (instead of turned towards a "smart" student). Then he turns in his test early indicating he had troubles with one problem (he left blank). Trying to promote his perseverence, I said, "you're a smart kid, keep looking at it and maybe you can work something out". I realized my mistake once he picked his test off the pile of "done" tests, when he walked back to his desk and I saw him erase another problem's answer immediately and put down what I'm guessing he saw on the pile. Now none of this was provable, so I didn't snatch his test up, but this was the 1st "life quiz" he failed. Even though he thinks he got away with things, I will no longer see him in the same way, and he will forever more be the "cheater" to me.

test2: For the nth and (n+1)st time one of our math teachers was basically bad-mouthing other people. In the first instance she was talking about a new teacher that was struggling, and after she recounted the struggles, she mentioned that this person was ONLY hired because we were desperate, and the new teacher must not have had strong interviews because she was not snatched up by other schools in the district. Her second mouthing incident was about a teacher at another school that our new AP wants to hire. She recounted 2 or 3 bad things about her personality and her teaching ability. I wasn't part of the 1st conversation (came in on the tail end), and for the second, I tried to say something nice about the other teacher, and basically I didn't say anything to this lady. BUT now I think of her as the bad-mouther. I wonder what she may say about me or about other people even though she's nice to me/others to their face.

test3: I park a ways away from the grocery store entrance in order to get some free exercise. I was walking back to my car and it looked like someone else with a cart had the same idea. After she was finished unloading into her trunk, I wondered if she would make the uphill trek to return the cart to the right place or just leave it willy nilly to bang into other cars. I was betting on the latter, but she surprised me and restored a bit of my faith in people by conscientiously walking it back to the "right" place.

test4: I walked my (cute little puppies) algebra 1 9th graders over to get textbooks this past week ... after I discussed hallway behavior and such. I also walked my precal and calculus classes over (older kiddies). When we got to the book room, the "manager" seemed surprised I was trusting the 9th graders with textbooks since apparently they don't have good reputations of caring for them and returning them. He even added an extra spiel that he didn't for my older kids about the cost of the books and such. Well, after they went through the checking out process, he told them all they were the best behaved 9th graders he'd ever seen. And I have to agree since out of my 6 classes, they were the best behaved through the whole process. Go Them!


  1. Dear Ms Cookie,

    I also have 6 classes and my 9th graders are the best. I LOVE them.

    Test 2 sounds lame. I try to stay away from this kind of people as much as possible.


  2. Anonymous9:00 PM

    I know. I'm a wee bit wary of her now, but then I have to see her weekly, and she has many other good qualities, so I'm trying to meld my bad and good feelings for her.

    I'm glad you're having great freshman.

    Ms. Cookie

  3. For your precalc tests, do you give different versions of the same test?

    I try to come up with "4 versions" of the same test (sometimes the same test in different colors) and although this does not stop some kids from cheating it does stop others.

    Someone I know just changes the question order while I would just rather change the numbers. I also use 4 different colors of paper and pass out tests according to seating.

    So the colors would look like this:

    Row 1: pink, yellow, pink, yellow, ...

    Row 2: green, blue, green, blue, ...

    Row 3: pink, yellow, pink, yellow, ...


    This prevents people from sitting too close to someone who has the same test. I even give 2 versions of quizzes so "no one will cheat off of you and make it seem like you were involved in cheating" when really the problem is not a cheating ring per se, but individual cheaters.

    I just think back to my own experiences of being the "smart kid" sometimes and think about how many people might have tried to cheat off of me and how it would make me feel to be called into a teacher's office and being called a cheater.

    I hope this kid doesn't think that is how they will get through their life :(.

  4. Anonymous9:49 PM

    Thanks for your creative tips. I do sit them in rows (only on test days) USUALLY way spaced apart. This year with so many students, it's a bit more cramped.

    I like your color test ideas ... I don't know if I have it in me to create 4 versions per class for a total of 12 versions. Mine are usually hand written because of time constraints, so they wouldn't be easy to change.

    Ms. Cookie

  5. Anonymous6:07 PM

    Six classes? Ouch. In NYC we are protected from that. For now, at least.

    I've had my share of (cute puppy) 9th grade algebra classes... when they are cute, they are really cute.

    I think you have a typo. You typed nth and (n+1)st, but I know this poem...

    She tried and tried, a hundred times
    To find a rhyme for month.
    The hundredth time she failed again,
    But not the hundred and oneth.

    Jonathan (not the author of those lines. Probably not Ogden Nash, either)