Friday, March 25, 2011

Spring Break week

This past week we've been on spring break, so the kids got a break from their regular school work and completed their standardized testing for the year instead. Here's what I learned from looking over their tests...


Jessie soared through the language arts section with only 2 mistakes that I noticed.  One was a simple mistake.  The other was a questions from an advertisement that asks which of the following portions from the ad sounds the most pleasing.  Jessie picked the one that caught her interest.  I'm reasonably sure that the correct answer was the choice with alliteration, but it wasn't something that I had taught yet.  On the math section, I could only find one incorrect.  It turns out we haven't done any multiplying or dividing with two decimal numbers.  This actually caught me off guard, since I thought we should have already covered it.  I checked through the level 5 and level 6 books only to realize that we had indeed not covered that particular topic yet.  Looking at the table of contents for NEM1, which would be the next book in the series, I noticed the first four topics work with decimals, fractions, prime numbers, integers, etc.  The Foerster's Algebra I book that I had purchased for next year lines up more closely with NEM2's table of contents, so I guess we'll be going through NEM1 at least the sections that don't deal with geometry before switching to Foerster's next year.  (This is exactly why I check these tests myself.  If I'd just looked at the grade sheet returned from the tests, I would have assumed it was a careless mistake and not learned anything.)


Violet and I spent part of our testing time battling about the need to double check your work and use your time wisely.  She would do a language arts section in about half the allotted time and then disappear.  (You would think I could keep an eye on her and wash dishes at the same time but apparently not.)  I would stop the timer when I noticed that she was gone, look over the section, call her back, and tell her to find her mistake or mistakes in the remaining x minutes of time.  She would correct her mistakes and disappear again.  We did this for three out of the four sections of language arts before she decided that it was quite possible that double checking one's work might just possibly not be a complete waste of time, and she checked the sections in the remainder of the test without being called back.  All in all, I found one mistake in the comprehension section where I thought the question was poorly worded.  The remainder of her mistakes, she found and corrected in self-checking.  In math, she ran out of time in both sections and was unable to completely recheck her work.  I found two mistakes and asked her to work those problems on the dry erase board so I would know if the error was from computation or misunderstanding.  (It ended up being the former.)  I think we really need to take the summer to work on her speed of computation before she moves on to level 5 of Singapore next year.


Benny had the hardest time with the language arts section of the test.  It wasn't so much that he didn't understand the material, but the process of actually getting through all of the reading necessary bordered on torture as far as he was concerned.  The print was smaller than he's used to and there was a lot more reading than I remembered.  He came close to mutiny when he saw the comprehension section with the paragraphs, but he struggled through and disappeared outside for the remainder of the morning.  Needless to say I dropped my plans of having him read an additional library book to me during the week.  In the math section, he breezed through easily and made no mistakes that I could find.  In hindsight, it would have been better for Benny to have waited another month or two to get some more phonics under his belt before tackling the test; but I am proud of the way he plodded through the section and finished with me just sitting there listening to him read aloud and nodded my head to encourage him.  I may reevaluate when we schedule our testing for next year.  For Benny the test just reaffirmed what I already knew.  His phonics is coming along, but a little slower than average.  His math is excellent.  We'll just keep reading library books over the summer and pray that somewhere along the way reading goes from something he has to do to something that he enjoys.  We haven't quite reached that lift-off point yet.

No comments: