Tests, Grades, and Revisions

We’re in a time of trying new things out, so I would like to share how I give tests, how I grade, and how I do revisions, in hopes that this will help a teacher or two out there:

How I Give Tests

I’m a big fan of Google Slides. I make a template that consists of…

  • Title slide
  • Directions and Purpose
  • Honor Code
  • Question #1 slide
  • 2 response slides
  • (Repeat Question and 2 response slides as needed)
  • Reflection slide

Then I share the slides with my students by changing “edit” to “copy” in the url so it would automatically make a copy for them. (If you are using Google Classroom, you have this option when creating an assignment). I purposely have 2 response slides per question so students won’t need to cram explanations/pictures in one slide. And purpose? I try my best to state the purpose of each assignment to show students that there’s a reason behind why we do what we do. Assignments need to be intentional. I also add a Reflection slide asking them what the biggest takeaway was in this last unit. I added this to see what resonated with students.

I gave my students over 2 days to work on this test (ex: gave Monday early afternoon, due Wednesday night) and I told them they can have access to the class notes, their own notes, and my recorded sessions. The honor code that I included in my tests is just to promise that they didn’t consult with anyone. 

How do students feel about this?

I asked my students in a weekly reflection how they felt about the test and what can be improved for the next test, and reflection after reflection mentioned the word “relaxed.” That was so wonderful to hear because my goal isn’t to make students stressed out even more (after all, we are in a pandemic). Here is a portion of one student’s reflection:

“I really loved that we were able to have so much time to take the test. We were able to go back and check our answers and I feel like that is very important when taking tests. You don’t want students to feel pressured because that may cause them to have lower tests scores due to anxiety.”

Math anxiety and test anxiety are issues we need to address. We are different people depending on our situation, so when we test in a pressured environment, we are testing what they know under pressure rather than testing what they actually know.

How I Grade

I will look at the student’s work and give feedback on the side, not as vague as “Look at #2 again” and not so specific that I’m doing all the work. After they turn in their revised work and I think it is good enough, they earn an A. I believe that the traditional style of grading is wildly inconsistent between different teachers and sometimes it’s dependent on our mood, so this is my favorite way of grading now. I don’t want to stress about whether this question’s response was a 5/10 or 6/10, I’ll just tell them what to fix, they fix it, and we’re all happy. After all, it’s about the learning. 

How I do Revisions

I strongly believe in reflecting on our mistakes and I strongly believe in normalizing changing our minds, so I tell students…

  1. Read this article on the 4 types of mistakes by Eduardo Briceño: https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/42874/why-understanding-these-four-types-of-mistakes-can-help-us-learn
  2. Do not erase any of your old work. If we erase our mistakes, we don’t learn from them.
  3. Add a new slide and use the sentence frame “At first I thought…But now I know…”, state the type of mistake they made, then do the exercise again.
  4. Do this for each exercise that they need to fix.

People might say that this is too lenient or that this is an easy A. I would argue that the point is that they learned, and that they earned an A through revisions. If something needs to be fixed, I’ll tell them to fix it, and this assignment won’t be done until it’s good. We arbitrarily set test dates but sometimes it takes longer for students to grasp a concept and that’s okay, and that is what I love about doing revisions.

I’m not sharing this as if this is the best way to give out tests/grade/do revisions, but as always, I just share in hopes that other teachers will, so we can all learn from each other. Let me know if any of this resonated with you. I would greatly appreciate it.

Thank you for reading.