FINALS!

Discussion in 'Secondary Education Archives' started by historybuff91, Jun 1, 2007.

  1. historybuff91

    historybuff91 Companion

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    Jun 1, 2007

    I teach U.S. History to Grades 7 and 8 and this is my first year teaching 8th grade and my school breaks my grade up into four teams; so four history teachers. Well they've been using the same final since the 2000, which is fine but I was able to teach my students from Reconstruction to present times (like the curriculum guide calls for) but they ran short of time and were only able to teach up until the Clinton Adminstration. We all have to give the same final but I don't think it's fair to give my students the same final as theirs. Yes it would be easier on mine but I feel they should be tested on what they learned. Not to mention the final they use is a tad different from what I'd like mine to be. My ideal final would be 100 multiple choice, 10-20 CRQ's and one essay on American History. There's is 50 multiple choice, 45 CRQ's and two essays. I was thinking about giving my students an alternate test (a final that would be given in class) and it would follow my format, but they'd still complete the regular eighth grade final, and I would keep whichever one they scored higher on. Both tests would equal the same total points. Any ideas?? I don't wish to insult my fellow coworkers but I don't agree with their final and they basically told me "you're new, you didn't spend hours making it, so deal." :confused:
     
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  3. ChangeAgent

    ChangeAgent Comrade

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    Jun 1, 2007

    I generally like your idea, and completely idea with your reasoning of the situation.

    However, it all depends on how the administration and other teachers will receive your approach.

    I would be weary of allowing them to take TWO finals and keeping the higher one--I think the other teachers, and the other students, would be upset at this perceived "advantage." Indeed, some kids may take yours and just ignore the other one, assuming they did fine on your exam.

    Here's a suggestion, based off what you provided:
    - Create a test from the Clinton Administration to the present to give in your class; use this as a "final test" for the quarter/semester
    - have your students take the prescribed final as the final test grade

    For the in-class test, you could even have an essay that asked them to compare/contrast the current material with something from earlier in history, thus tying it together. Have it worth a regular test grade, or more if you'd like.

    I, of course, don't know how your school grades, but by placing more points on this in-class test on the last portion of content, it would have a greater impact on the overall grade (if the quarters/semesters are averaged with the final) by raising the last quarter/semester grade (or at least making it worth more points).

    By having your students still take the prescribed test, you wouldn't butt heads with your peers, and the final test would appear more "standardized," since that, I assume, is the point of the final--so all kids can be compared (which, we know, cannot be done as the tests aren't actually normalized and standardized, but that's American education practice).

    I hope these suggestions help you consider what to do! I love being able to bounce ideas!
     
  4. Lyquidphyre

    Lyquidphyre Comrade

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    Jun 1, 2007

    Do you know what the final looks like? Is it possible to "omit" questions that you did not cover and then provide additional questions in the same format over what you did cover? So, if you ommited 10 multiple choice questions and on CRQ (not sure what that is).. you would add 10 of your multiple choice questions and one CRQ.
    I don't think it is fair at all the students have to take a test over material they didn't learn but at the same time you don't want to step on too many toes.
     
  5. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jun 2, 2007

    Is it possible to add in an extra essay on the more recent material, and to give your kids a choice? That way the extra knowledge they have would be to their benefit, not a choice.

    For what it's worth, it would NOT fly in my school. Everyone taking the same course takes the same final exam. The differences are worked about before the test is given.

    Is it possible (or advisable) to go to the AP and ask for advice?
     
  6. historybuff91

    historybuff91 Companion

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    Jun 2, 2007

    I went to my AP and he said basically "oh it's only 10 years of history that they wont be tested on....." and he's right it is around 10 years of history, but it took up over a month to teach. Had it been a smaller unit it wouldn't make me as uptight about giving the same final exam. Basically since I've moved up from seventh to eighth my fellow teachers have been great but for some reason they will not change the final. They stated it cannot be changed because it is saved as a PDF. Which is true. The test really isn't bad but basically my kids will only be tested on some material that they learned and not everything. I've decided that I'm going with an in class essay. I will most likely use NYS format and give them 4 CRQ (Constructed Response Questions) documents and have them write an essay using those documents. I mean my students learned above and beyond what they were supposed to learn (we were supposed to stop at 2000 but I had time left so I discussed current times). I just don't think it's fair to have those three teachers make the final. I offered to retype the entire final but they said no. The worst part is though is that their final counts as much as ONE WHOLE quarter. It's used to make recommendations for Honors Global History. So I decided that the in class essay will count as their final test in class, but will count three times since it's going to have three sections to it (CRQ section, 2 short paragraph section, and an essay). Do you think that's fair?
     
  7. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jun 2, 2007


    That's a completely different story.

    If you went above and beyond the syllabus, that's great-- I do it all the time. But that's not a failing of the other three teachers-- that's a decision you made. Of course that material should not be on the comprehensive exam-- it was extra. You can include it on an in class test, but the other kids should not see it on their final exam. They shouldn't feel as though their teachers didn't complete the course when apparently they did.

    As to counting it three times: Did it take you three times as long to cover as what is on a typical test? That's pretty much the gauge I use.
     
  8. historybuff91

    historybuff91 Companion

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    Jun 2, 2007

    Well I wouldn't test on the material I went beyond with but they only taught up unto 1992. We were supposed to teach up until about 2000-2001.
     
  9. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Jun 2, 2007

    I wish I could offer you some help, but at my school each teacher creates their own final. Well except for the math department they are too lazy too make their own tests and quizzes never mind a final.
     
  10. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jun 2, 2007

    OUCH :)
     
  11. historybuff91

    historybuff91 Companion

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    Jun 2, 2007

    I just wish they werent so hostile about changing things. I mean one attacked me yesterday saying I was "liberalizing" the children. First off I would never do that and second I am an extreme independent. Like I had extra time during the 1970's unit so I had my classes put on a court case, like what would have happened had Nixon not resigned? When my director heard of that he was so mad and he wouldn't say why. My students liked pretending to be lawyers, whitenesses, and key people of the scandal. Its just I hate the way they teach (I know I shouldn't judge) but since it affects my class I figure I will speak up about it. They spent 2 MONTHS on industrialization. Now really that shouldn't matter to me but because of that extension of someting that should have taken 2-3 weeks, they couldn't get up to what we were supposed to. I mean I got up to 2006 (which is about where were supposed to be) but they gave the kids a giant packet and told them study that (the packet being the eighties and nineties) so really they didn't even cover the 80s and now thats making me mad because the final isn't going to be fair for my kids. I mean the test is ancient and the questions are terrible; they're set up to trick the students and to me it's ridiculous. Sorry but I really needed to vent. Since the midterm I've been ridiculed of them, and at first I believed it since they were the senior teachers and this was my first year with eighth grade.
     
  12. ChangeAgent

    ChangeAgent Comrade

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    Jun 2, 2007

    Yay for liberalization, haha.

    Social responsibility and social justice issues and perspective-taking and present-day connections are what teaching is all about!

    When you say you would never "liberalize" your students, what do you mean? I would imagine the term liberal in this case means your pedagogy, not political affiliations (especially after how you described the final).

    Just to give voice to your peers, they have been teaching for a while, in the content and grade. They may believe that Industrialization is worth two months. Do they do different activities than you? Focus on different aspects? Assign a project? The concept of Industrialization, of course, is important, but they must see it as something worthwhile. Perhaps it is, if nothing more, a personal favorite. How did their students react to Industrialization? Maybe they enjoyed their teachers' enthusiasm (presupposing the teachers enjoyed that unit, and that is why it took so long).

    I guess I'd suggest falling back on the maxim:

    "Do what you can with what you have while you have it."

    Perhaps after you've established yourself this year, you can try to address the issue of the final at the beginning of next year. Everyone's busy and tired and stressed now--large issues (like the final that is worth a quarter's grade!) may be best tackled well in advance.

    At least you weren't teaching to the test!!! A+ for you right there!
     
  13. historybuff91

    historybuff91 Companion

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    Jun 2, 2007

    Well any unit can be two months but the fact is we have 9 and 1/2 months to teach Reconstruction to present times AND review ALL seventh grade material. Actually it was meant political wise. They think I'm polluting their brains with liberal thoughts because I taught about Global Warming when we did the current presidency. Also I suggested that U.S. Imperialism wasn't necessarily good thing. I just really wish they'd be a little more accepting of my ideas. I mean I am a teacher too and just because I don't have seniority doesn't mean I shouldn't be able to contribute to things. I mean seventh grade is so different, all my coworkers are so sweet but I love teaching eighth grade I just wish that it was more like my seventh grade environment.
     
  14. ChangeAgent

    ChangeAgent Comrade

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    Jun 2, 2007

    Oh. Well then . . .

    Keep teaching current issues and relevant topics! Introducing Global Warming (which the students have probably heard about!) and differing views on Imperialism is a good thing! If you're pushing one side more than another, I can see their concern--but you're supposed to have your own opinions!

    I just had my tenth grade learning support students (I was student teaching) research the death penalty. I didn't tell them I was against it, and when I had them write their own thoughts on the issue before and after the research, their responses varied--which is what I was hoping to see! I introduced an issue, let them see information (I provided both pro- and anti-death penalty resources, and facts/history), and let them decide.

    I would try to ignore the comments on "liberlizing" your students as best you can. You should be raising these issues--why else would the students learn history??

    Great work, historybuff91!
     
  15. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Jun 2, 2007

    Seems to me a history teacher who's really doing his or her job ought to count on catching heck from all over the political spectrum. If the lessons in history don't make each of us and all of us squirm, we're just not paying enough attention.

    ChangeAgent, do you know Susan Griffin's A Chorus of Stones: The Private Life of War?
     
  16. ChangeAgent

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    Jun 3, 2007

    TeacherGroupie--wonderful words on politics, squirming, and paying attention. However, I would amend you comment to read: "seems to my ANY teacher who's really doing his or her job..."
    - Literature raises endless questions, and writing can be tied to current issues or student concerns
    - Math must be made applicable, and when discussing money, spending and our current American values can easily be looked into (or government or school spending!)
    - Science is full of practical applications, from stem cell research, to medical practices, to (*gasp!*) evolution (this should be a non-issue, but, I guess, so should most things)
    - Art education has wonderful ties to time periods or philosophies, and the lives of the artists themselves
    - Physical education could tie in sports history, athletes are role models, and current issues in sports (sportsmanship, salaries, steriods, etc.)
    - Sexuality education allows for a spectrum of current, relevant and essential issues, from relationships and communication to human anatomy to sexual orientation, sex and gender roles, and gender identity, to sexual intercourse, safer sex, STI's, abortion, and abstinence (for the moment, I'll leave out the argument for a "discourse of erotics")
    - Home Economics/Family Science (or other titles for the course) ties together different ways to live indepedently and interdependently

    We have such wonderful opportunities as teachers to prepare students for a changing world, for job markets that don't yet exist today, and a truly global community.

    And no, I do not know Griffin's work, but I'm headed to Amazon.com now to check it out!
     
  17. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Jun 3, 2007

    "ANY teacher": true. Though teachers outside history have (slightly) better excuses not to provoke a case of the squirmies.

    One is reminded of theologian Frederick Buechner's classic line: "Doubt is the ants in the pants of faith."
     
  18. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Jun 3, 2007

    Historybuff,

    You must remember this your class; not theirs. You may choose, within reason of course, how you want to run you own classroom. If they do not like the way you teach, who cares, as long as your kids are learning. I had to go through the same thing this year teaching Math 7 and being told what to do by more experienced math teachers.
     
  19. historybuff91

    historybuff91 Companion

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    Jun 4, 2007

    I know, I just wish I could have some say in the way the finals are set up. It annoys me greatly that I'm giving my students a test that I did't even create.
     
  20. ChangeAgent

    ChangeAgent Comrade

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    Jun 4, 2007

    Even if things do not work out this year, begin addressing it at the start of next school year--or any team/content/curricula meetings this summer! Don't give up--as much as I hate to say it, change is slow. Take what you can get when you can get it, and keep at it!
     

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