Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Who wants a "do over"?!

Over the long weekend, I managed to get caught up on grading tests.  After looking at all the careless mistakes or lack of understanding on the Calculus tests, coupled with all the thinking I've been doing about how to get  students to actually LEARN, not just beg for points, I came up with this idea. Thank you to my friend and colleague +Kathleen Diver for throwing the idea around with me!

Here is how I explained it to my students:
For the rest of the semester, if you have a test score that you are not particularly happy with, you may have a "get out of a bad test score for free" card to use.  BUT, you can only have TWO of them, no more, so choose wisely.  Here is how that "card" works: for every problem you got wrong, you are to create another question similar to it (you cannot use a question from any material I have given you, it must be YOUR creation) and then proceed to make a video of YOU explaining it to me. Since I give video notes that I have created, they know what theirs should look like.  I gave them some options of how they might do the recording (Touchcast, Educreations, or use an IPhone or IPad and have it record you working on some surface). For correct explanations of similar problems, they can earn back 75% of the points they lost on the test (for those questions). It must be submitted before the next test date, and using the excuse of "my (whatever) wasn't working" because they waited until the last minute would result in my telling them NMP (not my problem)!!  The whole point is that they are figuring out the concepts well before the next test so that the new material we are currently learning makes sense (something about math being sequential leads to this concept being obvious).  

The best part about this: not one complaint! No whining about "my grade". AND, they really seemed to "get it". They even answered the question when I asked "what is it that I want?" Their answer: "us learning!" Yay! we are all on the same page! So all I have to do now is create a google form for their video links and get the cameras rolling (on their time, not class time)!  Can't wait to watch some really good video lessons!

How many kids are dumber than me?
Me:  Isn't that really what you want to know when you look at your tests?  Don't you justify your grade to your parents with "I didn't do so great, but neither did anybody else"? 
Students: heads nodding affirmation to my questions.
Me:  So how do we figure it out?  And what information should you be asking your teacher when they return tests?
Students: What is the mean and standard deviation?  Wait, do you figure that out Torres?
Me:  Of course!  I teach statistics! That's the information I want to know too!

We had a great time figuring out z-scores and percentiles! And all I had to do was tie it to something they already know about--test scores, SAT scores and ACT scores.  Who knew that Statistics was all around us already!? Who knew it was so easy to apply?! 

I cannot tell a lie!  I did!


  1. That seems like a lot of work for you. Do you think it might be better to give more, shorter assessments that don't count for a grade?

  2. Considering all things this year...and probably next to. I need to figure out how to keep track of their progress while they are in class showing work on whiteboards as well.