Posts Tagged 'Final'

Using Technology to Prepare Student to Do Well on Finals

We want our students to do well on the class final, department final, school district final, state final or national final.  However, often it is not what our  students know but how they will be tested that determines their grade.

Here are some techniques to use technology to help prepare students for finals so that they can perform well.

1) Give them self-correcting online assessments that mimic  parts of the final.  For example, students can do  several reading comprehension passages  in a program like Quia.  The program instantly tells them whether they are right or wrong. You can build in hints/strategies so that the students can learn  how to get the answer correct such as “Answer the question word ‘Where’ with a place.”

2) Have a wiki where students can post comments on their strategies for doing well in  each section of the test. One student might write “(For the reading passage) I underline the question word in the question and then I underline the answer in the passage.”

3) Have a texting-based program for the class where anyone can text questions as they do  final practice activities. Other students can explain how to get the answer.  For example, one student texts  “Can’t figure out the answer to ‘When do they go to the movies?”‘ since no time is given. and another student responds, “After eating supper tells when something happens; after is a time word.”

4) Use a Power-Point like program that not only quizzes students but then sends them to appropriate online resources if they have incorrect answers.  For example, if students incorrectly identify a math problem, the PowerPoint shows them to a math video explaining that concept.

5) Identify the most common errors that students will make on the learning goals in the final and have the students, in groups, prepare a short one to two minute video explaining those concepts.  They can make these videos not as full explanations but as cheat-sheet videos in which they emphasize the most critical parts.  For example,  Spanish students may review how to ask questions in the preterite tense in the “you” form and how to answer them in the “yo” form and they may review the most common verbs such as “to go” to get ready for a speaking final. They can post these on the school server so that other can access the videos whenever they want.

6)  Use a QR code to send them to a Google Form short 5-10 item quiz based on a final test section.  As soon as the students finish the mini-quiz, show them the class (not individual) results and go over, in class, strategies to overcome  the common mistakes that students made.

Do you know now how your students will do on the final?  Use technology to assess them and help them improve.

I have 20 Spanish spontaneous speaking/fluency activities at Teacherspayteachers:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle

My formative assessment books:   http://is.gd/tbook   Formative Assessment Responding to Your Students,   Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment  Successful, and  Student Writing Through Formative Assessment

Final In the Course What is it really?

We are within a few weeks of  finals.  Some good questions to ask are   What is a final?  What learning do we want the students to  show on the final?

A history teacher  tells his students that the final is on  Chapters 1-15 and all they have to do is know that information. Obviously, the students become overwhelmed because they do not know what is really important in the chapters.  They do not know the format of the final – multiple guess or essay writing? They have no idea of how to study for the final.

Teachers give paper and pencil finals, scantron finals or online computer scored.

Let’s look at some possible types of  written final (not project based):

Wikipedia  defines a final as a big unit test.  The final covers the same material that has been previously covered and in the same way but covers more of it in one exam.  An American History final is just  parts of previous tests;  instead of 50 questions, the students have 200 questions.

– Some teachers give a put-it-all-together test in which students have to integrate what they have learned during the course.  For example, an 8th grade  Science final involves students reading and critiquing an experiment on the health of a local stream.  They have covered everything previously in individual sections such as  the biological or physical aspects but they have not had to go to the big picture of the whole stream.

– Some teachers create a final that consists of  the final improvement on previous work.  For example, students have revised a Contrast essay previously in English class and they do a final revision as  their final.

– Some teaches create  a final that goes  far beyond what the students  have learned in class. The final  includes brand-new material such as many vocabulary words  the students have never seen and it may ask  them to do tasks that they have never done before in class. For example, in class students have only answered literal questions on  reading passages  but the final has mostly inference reading questions.   The final generally does not test the regular forms but focuses on all the irregular forms or exceptions.  Only the A+++ students might pass this final.

Some questions about a final:

Do the  students know what precise learning goals will be on the final? Do they know which learning goals are the most important for success in the final?
Do they know how these learning  goals  will be tested such as multiple guess or try to fill in the blank?
Does the final reflect the same level of learning as  done during the course?
Do the students have a sample final that mimics the final  both in content and format?  Do they have an online practice that explains the wrong answers?
Is the final an opportunity for the students to show how much they have learned?

What type final do you give?

I have 20 Spanish spontaneous speaking activities at Teacherspayteachers:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle

My formative assessment books:   http://is.gd/tbook

Class increase of 12 points over last semester

I give a pre-test and a post test in my Spanish course.  From the pre-test I can measure the students incoming knowledge.  From the post-test I measure their departing knowledge.   More importantly, I analyze the results of each unit test by the various categories on the test. If many students do poorly on a certain section, I reteach it.  The next semester I start out that particular point with  the reteaching material.  I also do many formative assessments so that I can give students new strategies to do better.  This semester my students did an average of 12 points better than last semester’s students.  I have analyzed the final to see the area in which they lost the most points – writing mini-compositions and have begun to figure out ways to help them. We will do more writing in class and on our class wiki. I will focus on the verb forms to tell a story such  as what I did last weekend. I will have them write out their weekend in a chronological order and make sure that they use a different verb in each sentence. We will do mini-writings over several class periods. For the final they do not need complicated sentences; they just need simple sentences that communicate different ideas.  My goal is to increase this coming semester’s average by 10 points over last semester.

By how much will you increase your class average  this coming year?

My book, Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students, is available through Eye on Education.

Also, my  book,  Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, is available through Eye on Education.

Why do students’ final grades not reflect their highest achievements?

Many teachers calculate the students’ final  grade by having a grading program or spreadsheet average the four quarters and the final.

However, this averaged grade does not represent the students’ highest learning.

For example, if a student had a 70, 75, 80, 85 for each of the four quarters and 90 on the final,  that average (with equal weighting) is 80. This grade does not represent the students’ achievement which was a 90.

Why do we not award students’ their highest grade as their final grade as in formative assessment?

A future lawyer can take the bar exam as many times as possible.  When the future lawyer  passes, the law association accepts that passing; it does not average in previous failures.

Think of the number of young people who take their drivers’ test several times.  When they pass, they pass. The Department of Motor Vehicles does not average in the past failures. If they did, many young people would never pass the drivers’ test.

A writer  submits a manuscript to a publishing house and  the publishing house rejects it (gives it an F).  Does the next publishing house refuse it since the manuscript had  already been rejected somewhere else?

When will educators not penalize students for previous efforts?   When will educators reward student achievement instead of minimizing the achievement?

How do you grade students for their final grade?

My book, Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students, is available through Eye on Education.

Also, my  book,  Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, is available through Eye on Education.

Web 2.0, Audience and Draft or Best? (Glogster example)

Educators state that Glogster is a great Web 2.0 tool since it makes the students’ work visible to the world.  I assume that the educators mean that the audience will be other students, teachers, and parents. Do students publish their drafts or   final products?  Usually the idea of audience implies that what a student offers to his/her audience is a final product just as musicians practice in private and then perform their best in a concert.   However, in looking at several random Glogster projects in Spanish, I discovered many basic  student errors.  Are educators having their students put their best work up on the web or just putting up rough drafts? Do we want the audience to see the many errors or do we want the audience to see the students’ best work?

The other reason to publish something is for the reaction of others to improve the work.  However, it seems that most Glogster posters are “final” posters. They do not get reviewed by others and then modified. The students simply do the e-poster.

If we believe in the power of audience as an essential element of Web 2.0, then we need to help our students give their best performances and not just their practice. Let’s improve the quality of our students’ work on the Web and therefore, help others to learn from our students.

My book, Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students, is available through Eye on Education.

Also, my  book,  Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, is available through Eye on Education.

What Did I Learn From Giving the Final? What do I Do Differently?

I recently gave my Spanish final. After correcting each part, I put the grades for each part onto the final sheet and totaled up the score to get their final exam score.  However, the process for me was far from done. I then opened a spreadsheet, created a column for each category of the test and a column of student names.  I then entered the students’ grades for each part of the final and had the computer calculated the class average and the percent of that average out of a perfect score such as (class average of 22.4 out of a perfect score of 25 for a 90%).  I found out that   my students achieved a class average of  85% for speaking, 90% for listening, 76% for reading,  and 77% for culture, and a 62% for writing.  I instantly thought of  what I could do differently next semester to help the students do better. I focused in on their writing which was their lowest score.  I have decided that each week that they will write at least five sentences. I will correct their sentences more frequently (at least once a week). I realized that I have to help them understand the critical difference between the preterite and the imperfect tense since most students mixed up the two tenses in the each tense specific writing on the final.   I also thought of several strategies to improve their reading such as writing more questions for them to answer about the book “conversations”; have them practice answering questions words in class so that they are sure of the type answer. For example, the Spanish question word,  Donde,  has to be answered with a place; and have them find similar words in the question and the answer.  My goal is to increase each  of these two lowest scores so that they both are in the 85% for the next time.   I realize that I have to give my students different strategies than I gave this semester’s students. I will give formative assessments frequently to measure their growth. I look forward to the challenge and their success.

So what does your final tell you about the different strategies you might need to give your students of next year?

My  book,  Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, is available through Eye on Education.

Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment

My book,  Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students, is available through Eye on Education.

Reponding to Your Students

Making Final State Exam Review into Formative Assessment for Higher Scores

I was talking to a teacher who has been reviewing for the  state assessment (New York State Regents) since January. I asked what he has done. He has taken a part of the regents exam and has had students do some practice activities. When I asked how his students were doing, he responded that they seemed to be doing fine. I asked how he knew and he answered that they did all the activities.

I suggested a different approach.  He can  pre-assess each part of the regents to find out  in which parts the students presently do well and in which parts they need improvement. If all students can do a part well, then they do not need to practice it.   Then once the teacher knows which parts are areas of weakness and determines what the actual gap is, the teacher finds  a new strategy or a new way of thinking about that specific learning  goal. The students use the new strategy on practice activities.  One or more  of the practice  activities become a formative assessment to determine well they are doing. The teacher diagnoses whether students have learned the goal to the desired level or whether they need another strategy if the initial strategy has not work.  When the teacher constantly is monitoring, diagnosing, giving feedback, and allowing time for improvement, students move forward.  Students who use formative assessment in their state exams will score much higher!

How do you “review” for the big state test or the final?

Formative Assessment books by Harry Grover Tuttle

Having Students Go from Proficient to Above Proficient Through Improvements

In my Oral presentations (speech) class, I’m grading their final speeches on how much they have improved from when they originally gave the speech. They have to show me their original speech, the rubric in which I indicated their strengths and gaps, and a sheet which explains how they are overcoming their gaps. Their final (two speeches that they select from those they have done) are graded on improvement.  If they show the three  improvements, they get an A. For each learning gap that is not changed into a strength, they loose ten points.  So far students have shown drastic improvements, their speeches have gone from being below proficient or being proficient to being above proficient. They have learned to support their speeches with image-based PowerPoints that drive home their messages. When we raise the bar and prove ways for students to improve, they go over the bar!

How do you have your students improve and become above proficient?

My book, Formative Assessment: Responding to Students, is available through Eye-on-Education.

Reponding to Your Students

Students Create Own Class Final Based on Portfolio

In my speech class, I have given my students a choice of which of the nine speeches that they have already done that they wanted  on their final. I told them that the final had to consist of  three of the speeches that they had given;during the final they would drastically improve on the already given speeches.

I listened as they talked about which speeches they thought would most benefit them. They talked about the portfolio that they have to create as a requirement of the college.  They thought of which speeches would most impress a future employer. They all agreed that the “Tell Me About Yourself” interview question speech was absolutely critical.  They next agreed on the Persuasion speech since it shows how they can convince others of their ideas. Finally, they decided that they would do an Information speech since often in work, they give information to others.  Most of them had already done these speeches on areas in their future career.

Their discussion revealed much about their understanding of their future careers,  their showcasing themselves during an interview, and their analyzing the various speeches we had done.

Do you have your students have input into their final? What criteria is used to select material for the final?  Does it serve a “greater purpose”?

Finals Do Not Reflect Standards

How well does your final match up with your standards and particularly those standards which you identified as being critical for the course?

A colleague shared with me  a  course final which focuses on a topic not mentioned in the course proficiencies (standards).   Since it was her first time in teaching the course, she had not studied the final.  When she did, she wondered where it came from.  She went back through the course proficiencies again and still could not find the topic.  Then she went to the textbook and searched it for the topic; it was not there. Someone had decided that the final had to be a certain topic which was neither in the standards nor the textbook.

How well does your final match up with the specified standards and the high level of thinking in those standards?  Does your final measure all the standards and all of their parts?  Does it measure some of the standards and even just some of those learning goals?

Final Grades = Above Proficiency with many As

I’m going to be in trouble again with final grades and the school. Since my students can redo any assignment and even re-do the final, almost all my students end up with As. My students usually earn As or Fs (little or no work and little or no attendance). However, often administration thinks a teacher is an easy grader when almost all students in the class get As. In one class, students revised over 32 pieces of business writing. In another class, almost all students revised over 8 pieces of writing and their final research paper. I see the As as proof of students changing from being unproficient to being above proficient in their work. Even though students take the time to do the rewrites, they know what and how they have to improve their work; they based their improvement on formative feedback. I am more concerned about them learning to well than on the actual grade.

Do your grades resemble the traditional bell curve? Or do they show a proficiency/above proficiency curve with most grades in the Bs & As? Do your grades really reflect specific standards learning?

Final Portfolio Still Formative Feedback

Last week I went over my students’ portfolios before they handed them in. The portfolio served as the final in the course. The review gave me one last chance to give them formative feedback. As we went over each section, I asked the students what they did well and what they can do to improve. Their most common learning gap was that some students forget to relate what they had done back to the standard. For some students I had to give them the phrase “I showed (this part of the standard) by ……” or “When I wrote ……, I demonstrated the essential characteristics of …..”.

For several students, it was hard making the leap from what we did in class to the standard (even though for each part of the standard, I had labeled the essential characteristics as we had done them in the class. Students tend to get caught up in the activity without thinking about its real purpose.

How do you constantly remind your students of the bigger purpose for each activity they do? How do you keep your students focused on the standards?

Portfolio Requirements-Teacher Does It and Improves Standard Demonstration

In my business writing course I’ve assigned a portfolio as the final. The students are to show that they can write each type of business letter. They are to show the changes in their business letters from their first attempts to their arriving at proficiency.

I wrote up the outline of their portfolio. I decided to give them a checklist to guide them through the portfolio process. I made sure that each portfolio requirement had all of its parts listed.

Then I decided to do a model portfolio for them. I deliberately selected a business communication that they had not done. I went through and began doing each part required in the portfolio. As I did, I realized that my wording was vague or did not allow them to focus on the aspects of each business letter. I realized that some parts needed to be moved around. I omitted some aspects that now seem non-productive rather than demonstrating the type of writing. It was not until I did the portfolio that I learned how to make it a better demonstration of the students’ learning. I am sure that when I assess their portfolios, I will look at them different than if I had not done the portfolio myself! I will have to change my rubric to reflect those changes.

Have you actually done your own portfolio? Your own final?

Standards Tagging To Benefit Students or Just an Exercise?

The college where I work wants each activity in the class calendar to be labeled with one of the official course outcomes (standards).

I applaud the effort in asking instructors to think about how what they are doing supports the outcomes. However, I also realize that most instructors just put numbers in so that each activity has a number. They do not change what the activity is; they just put a label on each activity. The instructors do not change what they do in the classroom.

Furthermore, there is no common course assessment so, in fact, each instructor gives whatever type of final covering whatever type of content. Until we give common course assessments there is no real outcomes based (or standards-based) learning.

Students do not benefit from such pseudo-standardizing of courses.

The aha moment in the third revision

I’ve mentioned that my students can revise their final. One student was on her third revision; I asked her how she would react to getting the letter she had just written and she responded that she would not do what the letter asked. I could see the light bulb finally go off. She said, “I changed my whole letter, I really had not followed the persuasion format. To get my manager’s attention, I mentioned how long-valued waiters were leaving due to our lack of a tipping policy..” She went on to describe how she had implemented each part of a persuasion letter; she gave her examples. She finally had gotten it; her letter was one of the best of the whole class. If I had just given her her final grade on her portfolio, she never would have reached her understanding of the outcomes required in the course. Once that light bulb went off, she tackled other letters she had not been proficient in. She finally understood using WIIFM (What’s in it for me- the reader) and the tone of her letters changed from demanding an action to showing the tangible benefits of the action for the reader. She easily modified the other letters and their reflections. Her final score went from a C to an A. More important, she is now proficient in those types of letters.

So how much revision do you permit on your final?

Class Standards and Finals: Mixed Signals

Do Course Proficiencies match up with course final?

A colleague emailed me a bizarre story. Her college is part of multi-college educational system. She teaches a course that is required for all entering students. All of the colleges have the same outcomes for this course. However, they all have different finals; the finals do not resemble each other in any way. One college requires a research paper; another requires a timed proficiency test and another requires certain assignments. How can a class be outcome or proficiency based and not have the same or very similar final? How can the final not be based on the specific outcomes?

How does your course’s tests and final reflect the specific standards/outcomes/proficiencies? Giving a state exam or benchmark should not be a final in your course but simply be a small sampling of evidence of the outcomes. How strong is your standards-based learning signal? Does it reach to the final?

Final test or Improved Learning?

Final or Formative Final

A student questioned the final in one of my courses. He said that he had self-assessed his work, he had made changes, I had assessed it, and he had made more changes, and now he was handing it in as the final. He was confident that he had done a good job; he really had done a great job. He questioned how it was a final if he knew what he was to do and if he and I had helped him to do a good job. He felt that those two things went against all he knew about finals. He never knew a final where he was allowed to improve and improve. He only knew of finals where he took finals where he guessed what was on the finals and then he received a grade. He also admitted this final was harder since he knew what he had to do, he could not fake it, and he knew that he had to show growth each time an assessment was done.

So what type final do you give?


RSS Education with Technology

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