Yesterday, we read "Thank You, M'am" by Langston Hughes and answered some basic comprehension questions. Today, I am going to mess with their expectations of what an assessment is.
I make a big show of having students clear their desks for said test. I give my warnings about cheating and what cheating will do to your grade. I remind them that they are to look nowhere but their "test" paper. I instruct them to turn it over when they are done and wait for everyone else to finish.
I then hand out the multiple-choice test for "Thank You, M'am."
I collect the tests, which they still think I'm going to grade for correct answers as their first "test" of the year.
Then we have a discussion about test-taking. I ask students about their confidence levels. Do they think they got a lot of the questions right? Is there anything else they would have liked to have done before or during the test to ensure success? With any luck, this conversation will segue into a discussion about using resources. I will ask students if they think they would have done better if they could have looked at the story or their notes. We even talk about whether or not using books and notes constitute cheating or not.
Now it's time to blow their minds. I hand the test back and say, "Everyone in this room is going to get 100% on this test." I then hand out the assessment reflection chart. I then lay out the instructions for getting 100%.
For this assignment, students will be reflecting on their thinking. I have students take out their Elements of Fiction Notes and open their books to "Thank You, M'am" by Langston Hughes in their textbook.
Then, we walk through the real assessment. All students must fill in the column titled, "What answer did you choose? Why?" I caution them to avoid answers like, "I knew it was right." However, they can write, "I guessed" (they love this option...momentarily)
If students selected the wrong answer or guessed, they must now complete the next three columns. The fourth column is optional, and students may write a question even if they got the question right.
I do collect and grade this assignment as a summative assessment. However, I do mean what I say when I tell students that everyone will get 100% on this assessment. The one caveat is, I expect thoughtful answers on the reflection chart.
If a student does not explain their thinking or only gives me surface answers ("I knew I was right"), they will find themselves presented with their work back and an Incomplete in the grade book.
This first assessment is a time for my to show my students the high level of work I will be expecting from them this year.