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     The last two weeks have caused me to redefine the term busy. It has been action-packed with my graduate classes ramping up and the start of my new student teaching placement. In addition to that, I had two separate, awesome professional development experiences. I went to a workshop for science teachers that Chris blogged about here and an observation of an experienced Chemistry teacher that he blogged about here. I’m not being lazy – at least I don’t think so – by piggy-backing on his posts, but there are other things to ponder and on which I need input.

     I have been thinking a lot lately about assessment.   In my brief classroom experience, I have seen many tests with a format that seems to be standard in test generating software:  a) multiple choice, mostly vocabulary section – usually at least one-third of the total points;   b) constructed response, short answer section – again mostly vocabulary;  and then c) problems both qualitative and quantitative.     I did most of the grading in my first placement over the first five months of school and started grading tests in my new placement on Friday.     This experience is limited but I have already graded too many tests on which the students got every problem, and most of the constructed response questions correct, BUT most of the multiple choice questions wrong.   The result is that students barely pass even when they can do all the problems which is the transfer of skills section.    The students really seem to struggle with vocabulary.

     Vocabulary is an important part of science teaching and learning.  I’m not ready to throw up my hands as I am about math which I blogged about here; I think I have a reasonable expectation that math teachers will teach them arithmetic at some point prior to high school.    Science vocabulary, on the other hand, is my responsibility and important if the students are to have sufficient science knowledge to evaluate new information they encounter throughout their lives.    I need to learn how to effectively teach and encourage them to want to learn science vocabulary.   However, I am also pondering alternative assessment strategies including a) more constructed response – although sadly, in today’s testing environment, they need to learn to do multiple choice;  b) fewer test points allocated to vocabulary; and c) putting the vocabulary portion at the end so the students aren’t so frustrated and were exposed to some of it while working the problems.   The last one I’m going to try on the next quiz or test written by me.

     I would really love to take a course on assessment.   Sadly, I have no electives in this program and it isn’t on the list.   Someday.

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