Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Week 12 Writing Prompt Response
I would like to teach 5th grade so I have chosen the 5th grade language arts blueprint and the English/Language arts for 3rd through 5th grade item samples.  In the 5th grade students are beginning to take there education from the elementary level and towards what they will be learning through middle school and high school.  The standards that are meant for the 5th grade classroom look into more application, analysis and critical thinking.  The purpose of the exam I would create to help prepare my students would be to see how there skills have moved from memorization into a practical application.  In order to evaluate my students ability to think deeply I would use matching exercises in order to see how they are able to connect certain items.  The book discusses how matching exercises help evaluate student's ability to "make associations or see relationships". These are both skills that are needed for 5th grade level formal assessments.  Fifth grade also has a focus on comprehension.  In order to test comprehension I could use multiple choice or fill in the blank.  These are both typically used for memorization but in this case the student's would have never seen what they are being tested on before.  It would simply show if they understood what they read or not.   Also, writing is a major component for the standards of the testing and there are a lot of questions in the item sampler about writing.  In the item sampler there are quite a few questions focusing on sentence structure and writing with a short prompt.  In order to prepare my students for this part of the test I would have questions that have incorrect sentences grammatically and ask them to fix the sentences and explain what was wrong.  In order to prepare them for writing prompt questions I would give them open-ended writing prompts with a time limit preparing them to pace themselves and be able to finish the writing in the time given.  This can also give me a chance to see there writing and how they work under pressure. I think that each of these would help prepare students in that it would give me an ability to see where my students are and what they are needing help with.  I would be able to change my teaching to what their needs are. It would also give the students a sense of the pressure that is accompanied by any standardized test.  Based on the criteria of fairness in the book, the item samplers seem quite fair. The only thing I have always thought was not fair about standardized testing is the pressure that goes along with it. I have always done worse because of the pressure, which leads me into the next topic.  I think that standardized tests provide a conflicting motivation for students.  Because of the pressure that is placed on the students to do well, I think that students would be intrinsically motivated to learn because of the upcoming test.  At the same time because of this pressure students will a low self-efficacy may not do as well or be as motivated for the test because they may never believe they will do a good job.

Extra Credit: 

My main unanswered question about motivation (because it is so important) is if these methods truly work that we are learning about. And what works for different people.  I have been trying to resolve this by talking to my teacher. She has so much experience and is reassuring that learning what motivates each student will is not hard to find.  

1 comment:

  1. Rachel, I responded to Mariah's question about motivation in a later comment. Here are two quick things that I will add about the topic.

    I agree that different things work for different people, which is why the focus of the course is for us to design specific activities based on theories of motivation/learning/ and other evidence-based research (higher order thinking, equity, assessment, etc). I firmly believe that a good activity, or even assessment, based on learning principles has the potential to motivate most students.

    Assessments are not just about standardized tests (we'll cover more next week), even though it is unfortunate that the current trend in education seems to move us in this direction. Regardless, while students are aware that while a test may have a significant impact in their lives, there are other measures of a person's worth. After all, we have many individuals who have succeeded without going through the traditional school route (e.g. Bill Gates, Isaac Newton, J.K Rowling). Our role as teachers is to support a student's life-long development and not just to prepare for exams. These ideas may seem to be conflicting and takes an enormous amount of dedication from teachers - but most of us are where we are because of very good teachers that we have met in our lives.


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