If you are a regular reader you probably know that my kids and I get involved in some unorthodox projects. We don’t often use the textbook, and we never have had a “quiz.” The unit we are currently on is the famous 8th grade US History unit, “How Democratic was Andrew Jackson?” Before analyzing some primary sources from Jackson’s Presidency I needed the kids to have some background information on events such as his bank veto and Indian removal. Our textbook does a good job of summarizing these so I told the kids to read the chapter and come in the next class and prove to us that you understand what you read using the vocabulary words and the questions at the end of the chapter as a guide. If they did not want to create and present something to us I would just give them a standard quiz. That’s right a quiz (an online quiz that I created, no need to bring anything home to correct because it tells the kids instantly whether they are correct and what the final score is). Honestly, this occurred because I was tired. I just could not find the energy to do something creative myself, and I thought why not give them traditional bookwork for just one class.
They came in today and while some kids in each class presented something creative, most just took the quiz. It was short, simple, and they didn’t have a lot of time to prepare anything else. For one of the last presentations a student walked up with a paper and proceeded to read the following (re-printed with her permission):
I don’t think it is right to make a student read from a textbook and be expected to learn all different terms and vocabulary in 2 days. Especially when no guidance in teaching is present. I believe that is it better to understand lessons in giving a life-long piece of useful knowledge than to scurry and try to memorize things that will soon be forgotten in the course of a month or two.
I cannot perform or make a project based on a concept that I do not understand. In my mind, the words in the textbook connect nothing to me, and don’t have any relevance to anything I can relate to by just reading it.
The way I saw it, there were two ways this task could’ve been:
–receiving a failing grade on a quiz on information I truly don’t know, with the aid of trying to memorize the terms using flashcards.
–being taught a lesson of various useful information, (and different ways to assure comprehension), then in the future being gifted with the knowledge in one way or another.
I don’t expect this speech to get me out of failing the quiz, it’s just what I think.
So my drive to empower my kids came back to bite me. Meg you get an “A” on the quiz. I only wish that everyone else had studied as hard