Thursday, January 13, 2011

Final Exam Time!

As much as I hate giving semester exams after Christmas, I love the fact that Wed-Fri of this week consists of half-days. I've been cleaning my room, working on new posters for my word wall, printing out work for our systems unit coming up, and trying to get to the bottom of all my piles. I've also gone to lunch with my coworkers each day and did not have to gulp down my food!

In other good news, I am enjoying teaching in a school where I don't have to curve the hell out of my Algebra I final just to keep 60% of the class from failing the first semester. In fact, I didn't curve them at all. Our final exams are made at the district level, but overall I was happy with this one. The exam grades came out fairly close to their average in the class.

The only thing that frustrated me was the fact that there are some kids who can look at a multiple choice question like "write the equation of the line that passes through the points (0, 4) and (1, 2)" and get the wrong answer even after they plot the two points on a grid and notice that the line is "falling" and therefore must have a negative slope. Or they could notice that the y-intercept was 4 and mark out two of the bad answers. Two popular answers for this question: y = 2x + 4 and
y = -2x + 6. I guess I shouldn't be too upset, 80% of my students got that question correct, but it still bugs me that 20% still don't have enough reasoning skills to eliminate the bad answer choices!

Here is another one that really bothered me. Only 54% of my students got this one correct. John goes to the barbershop for a haircut. His haircut is $15 and he leaves a 15% tip. How much change should John get if he pays with a $20 bill? Oh and by the way, this question was not multiple choice. It was what we call a "griddable" item. I looked through their booklets and saw some pretty interesting methods being used to solve this problem, but not many were correct. I think in middle school, they get so hung up on formulas and the percent ratio that they just don't learn to think a problem through logically.

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