Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Finals Week

Tuesday we'll be into the 2nd day of finals. That's one of the (many) things to love about Texas. We consistently get 2 weeks off for Christmas break. Thursday is our last day with the kids, and Friday is just a minimal "check grade print out" sort of morning.

This year, I did something different for my precalculus final. In the past, at this school, it's been all multiple choice. Mostly because that's what the tradition had been and also because we are in such a rush to finish grades and turn them in. For example, our last test ends on Thursday at 1:10, and ALL grades are due by 3pm that day. Whew. Also, the finals are worth 25% of the semester grade, for however THAT fits into the equation.

Anyway, it never sat right with me, this multiple choice test, and this year, I made it a "fill in the box with your answer and show your work on a separate sheet" sort of test. This way, the kids are not overtly guessing at answers, and I can see more of what they know (or don't know as the case may be). I guess a time comsuming part of tests in general is hunting through all their work to find their answer, and even if they box it on regular tests, the boxes are all over the place. On my final, I placed the boxes, and there were only answers to dig through, and the grading went very fast. I finished up one set (33 tests) while I was monitoring another final ... and by monitoring I mean I was walking around and looking up every 10 seconds and answering questions and such.

Anyway, I'm REALLY looking forward to this break. It's been a stressful semester, and I've had to work with people I don't respect and whose focus is the ever-dreaded TAKS test at the expense of lots of other important issues. It's so bad, I'm wavering about coming back next year. Stress, stress, stress. Come ONNNNNNNNNNN holidays.


  1. One trick I learned a while back when grading open ended tests was to have a separate sheet for the answers. Then align five or six answer sheets next to each other on the desk and grade one question at a time on all of those tests. Part of what always slowed me down was mentally shifting gears as I went from question to question. This was I can just zip though, mark them correct and then go back to the wrong ones to look for partial credit if I am feeling generous. I owe the coworker who showed me this trick A LOT.

  2. Anonymous6:06 PM

    I like your thinking. I generally do 1 question at a time if I'm looking at work (during the year). And on this final, I did 1-2-3 questions depending on what I could keep in my head. It DOES speed things up.

    I like your "fanning them out" idea, though. I'll have to test that out some time.

    Ms. Cookie

  3. Anonymous11:39 PM

    Thanks Mike - I'm gonna try that too!

  4. Yep...good idea, I'll be trying that as well.

  5. Anonymous8:33 AM

    But no partial credit, right?

    Do you try to keep it to one or two ideas per question?

    (I far prefer giving partial, but it is a pain in the you know what to grade. But then there's no other way to give a big multi-step problem...)

    Enjoy the rest of your (longer than mine) holiday!