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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Testing, Testing and more Testing!


Sorry that I have been MIA for so long-- I am back in the US and have finally had some time to sit down and organize the rest of my journals from my practicum experience! The next few posts were written during my student teaching days but they were not in blog-worthy form.... now they are! This post is from one of the very full testing days I had the chance to partake in at Northcote-- enjoy!

When my CT said that I would be spending a good portion of today administering individual End-of Year Numeracy Assessments, I didn’t think she meant ALL DAY! The other student intern, Kellie, and myself spent basically from 9am to 3:30pm testing students. Surprising, I really enjoyed the one-on-one testing situation but I am absolutely exhausted. Although administering tests is not necessarily “teaching”, it is a critical aspect of being a teacher so I personally think it was a very valuable experience. After giving a little background on the test, I thought that I would pass along a few pieces of insight I gained from my experience today.

The test that I administered is called the Nelson Benchmark and used in schools all around Australia. The students take the Numeracy Assessment at the beginning and end of the school year—these students took the Second Year and Third Year of School forms of the assessment. I will scan and post some of the test questions from both forms of the test so that you can get an idea what is expected of the students. Northcote Primary School chose to use the Nelson Benchmark because the standards match up with the VELS [Victorian Education Learning Standards].

Today and tomorrow are the days that my class is scheduled for testing. This means that other teachers and/or substitutes were/are brought in throughout the day to take over the class while Dane, Linda, Kellie and myself administered tests. Each of us would take one student at a time and work with that student for as long as the student needed.

I spent the majority of my day testing the Year 1 students [I only made it through 4 ½ students to be exact]. This experience made me realize how fortunate the school is to have the ability to give teachers the time to work one-on-one with students—I cannot imagine having to try to administer this test while also teaching and keeping the rest of my students on task. Both the other Kellie and myself learned a lot from our testing experience—here are a few of the major takeaways I had from the day!

- Read through instructions ahead of time and make sure that you have all of your materials ready so that you do not have to stop the student or leave the room during testing

- Make sure the space is big enough so that students have enough room to write and use manipulatives if necessary and as the tester you have enough room to record what you are observing

- Ensure that you have multiple choices of manipulatives [i.e. if teddy bears are going to distract one student have chips as well]

- Give students a break if they are getting really antsy [i.e. one student would read a question then her eyes would wander or she would lean back in her chair to “think” and then would forget the question—to give her a break I asked her to go wash her hands (dirty from lunch) and get a drink and then come back

- It is hard to determine how much to assist each student especially so you are consistent among testers—even though the technical prompts are given, it is hard not to want to add more, especially if you know the student knows the material but might not understand the question if it is worded a specific way

- Take a lot of notes--- I took a lot of notes [primarily because I wasn’t sure how to fill out standards form, especially in the case of a student answering one part of the question right and another wrong] and I think that this is a really good idea because just recording their answers doesn’t always give a full view of what they were doing

- Make sure that you are recording results in a way that they can be read and understood by someone else (i.e. the student’s future teachers)

- Don’t sit too close to another student/teacher doing the test—students start to talk

I know that I have already overloaded you with information but I just have a few comments to finish up with! As much work as the methods course “Teaching Mathematics” was, I am really glad that I took it—the interview that we had to do as one of our assignments really helped me to probe my students to find out more about what they were thinking and their full level of understanding. Since I had an idea of how to ask students questions that helped to reveal their thinking, I really enjoyed trying to get them to explain things they didn’t think they could explain. It also showed me how easily you can manipulate students to get them to answer a certain way or to get them to answer in a way—something to keep in mind and in check!

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