Saturday, January 30, 2010

Magic pipette

I get bored during tests, and I tend to get restless. ("Dr. D, you're making too much noise.")

Kids like routines, and here's mine:

1) Pass out the test bunnies, giant cockroach, praying mantis puppet, and a half dozen felt mice. (Talismans in science class, who would've thunk?)

2) Pass out tests.

3) Pass out pencils. ("It will cost you 5 points." Dr. Deeeeeeeee, no fair..... "Have I ever taken a point away?")

4) Get out the magic pipette.

The magic pipette started out as the magic wand ("magic's" a bit redundant, I suppose), then transmogrified into a magic pipette when I misplaced my wand.

During a test, each child gets to use the magic pipette for one question--it will mysteriously land on the right answer.

It started out as a gimmick by a very bored teacher, but I've kept it because it gives me good information. God forbid, it also gives a few kids an extra few points.

What have I learned?
The most confused kids won't even use it--a hard lesson for me to learn. Children feeling defeated will not take help.

If everyone's using it for the same couple of questions, something's likely wrong with the question.

Kids hate it when they already picked the right answer, even if it was chosen completely at random.

My magic pipette won't ever rival Madeline Hunter, but for a few kids, giving away an answer serves as an act of kindness in a world that increasingly frowns on such.

My felt mice and test bunnies are handmade by Jessica Pierce.
If you are easily offended, avoid "Bunnies What Swear" category.


John Spencer said...

You're a genius, Doyle. I'm stealing your magic wand idea.

I have had days when I give tests and tell everyone that they can mark whatever they want - they'll get a hundred percent - but I would prefer they try their hardest so I can learn what to preteach. They tend to do better on these hundred percent tests.

doyle said...

Dear John,

And I'm stealing your idea for the 100% test! Great!

Barry Bachenheimer said...

It not just is formative assessment during a summative assessment. Genius!

Have you thought of doing this as an activity where the test doesn't count? (No points, just a barometer of where kids are?)

Tracy Rosen said...

I love the magic wand and I love what it teaches you about your tests.

I hand out playdough when I am giving a test or performing some other kind of assessment. The kids who need it, take it. Some just squish it around in their opposite hand, like a stress ball. Others create intricate little sculptures. Whatever they do, it makes the 'test' room less stressful and a bit prettier, too.

doyle said...

Dear Barry,

I keep confusing one type of assessment over another--but I like "formative" assessment--gives my wand a certain pizazz.

John above mentioned tests without scores--I may try that.

Dear Tracy,

I hadn't thought about Play-Doh--another great idea!

(My "luck" bunny, alas, was transformed into a "f*ck" bunny today, but not by one of my students.)

Kathryn J said...

I love all these ideas. My students looked at a quiz today and acted as if they had never heard of genetics before - we've been studying it for two weeks. How to get them to engage their brains? Can 7th graders actually listen?

doyle said...

Dear Kathryn,

I'm starting to think that February shuts our brains down.

I hope so, lambs, still engaged in class, seem to be slumbering through some exams.

Charlie Roy said...

I like the "wand" idea. Very clever.