In my 7th grade science class I recently gave an exam on force and motion. We don't get to spend too much time on this concept so I was trying to make sure and hit the teks hard and learn them fast. We had our online test last week. Joe made a 10% on it. Joe is a smart kid. He knows science. I asked him what he thought about the test. He never replies with it is hard or he didn't understand. He said he understood it and thought he did ok. I didn't tell him his grade and told him that we will have a re-teaching lesson and then we will re-take the test. I re-taught the teks and re-visited our ramp lab that we had done. The test was different but had the same teks. Joe then made a 50% on that re-test. I felt better but knew he was still missing something.
Let me stop here.... What good does it do a kid to give them the 10% or a 50% on an exam or any assignment?
I remember the days when I would fail an assignment and feel horrible, embarrassed and mad. I should have done better!!! But, failure happened and I "learned". Not the concept but the lesson...... The days of scaring students into doing their work for fear of a "0" are GONE!
If you tell students today (not all but some) that they will get a "0" on a project or assignment they will shrug and respond with "ok". Who does that help, hurt or teach a lesson to?
There are some that would rather die than get a zero or even a "C" on an assignment. I'm not talking about them, but they are not in the majority.
I believe in due dates. I believe in teaching them that it is important to complete an assignment on time. (If you don't pay your electric bill, they turn it off. You can always pay the bill + extra and have it turned back on- that's a re-do) What good does it do the student, the school or even the teacher to respond with "it's a 0"? Failing has become too easy of an option for kids these days. But if they have to re-do it or do it at all? They (my students at least) will respond to this. Now in the end if they never do it the result will be a "0".
Back to Joe. We sat down a 3rd time. Yes a 3rd time. While the rest of the class was moving on in a transition day on vocabulary for the next unit. I sat with Joe and had him read me the questions that he missed (he didn't know which ones he missed). I had him read me the answers and read what sounded like the answer and asked him "why" he thought so. He really had no idea what he was reading.
A specific question was which of the following is the response of an organism to a stimulus. The answers were tropism, adaptation, yield and some other one. I asked him to read his vocab and find anything that was similar. We had 11 vocab words with one of them being geotropism. He missed it completely. So, I read the question, the answers and his vocab words and he was able to pick the word geotropism. He know it, he just couldn't say it or hear it in his voice. What we discovered is that there was one question on the test that he completely blew and didn't get the concept.
It was an "ah-ha" moment for me as a teacher to witness. I should have realized this sooner. Joe is not the only one and it is not just an ELL problem. It also is not "the teacher doesn't know what she is doing" problem. The problem is we have to care enough to figure out what the issue is and take the time to make it right and fix it as teachers. It is hard. It does take time. Is it worth it? If the student being successful, feeling worthy, and learning a concept? DEFINITELY IT IS WORTH IT!