It’s the time of year all teachers love… the end of the year!! The funny part is, I don’t love this time of year for the reasons you think I do. Sure the weather is getting nice, and the countdown to summer vacation is in the single digits, but that is not why I love the end of the year. I love it because today my seventh and eighth Grade Algebra I students took their Simple Solutions Math post-tests.
Today, I proved to my pre-teen students that they DID LEARN something this year! I proved to them that HARD WORK pays off. I didn’t even have to use words; they showed themselves. Today, I got to sit back and say, “I told you so,” and see the pride they showed as they came up to me to turn in their post-tests.
On August 26th of last year, the seventh graders entered my Algebra I classroom for only the second time. They were overwhelmed with life in Junior High. They did not know what to think of my crazy antics, and on top of it all, I gave them a test designed to assess end-of-year mastery. After I calmed some of the panic-stricken students and handed out a tissue or two, they completed the tests. Most spent only fifteen minutes because they skipped most of the problems. When they handed in their papers, I made a promise: they would know how to do all of the items on the test by the end of the year. I filed the pretests away and got straight to work. Their first Simple Solutions Math lesson was assigned as homework and due the next day.
Eighth grade is a lot easier at the beginning of the year. The routine starts right where we left off the previous year. The students didn’t even want to take the pretest. Why should they? They trusted that I would teach them everything they needed to know by the end of the year. They knew they would be able to test out of Algebra I and go on to Geometry in high school if they worked hard.
I invite my students to make comments on the last page of the tests, and want to share some of those with you:
Last August, Kimberly wrote, “I skipped 15! WOW!” Her post-test comment read, “This test was so easy now that I’ve learned everything. I can’t believe I skipped 15 problems on the pretest; all these problems are so easy now!”
In August, Alyssa wrote, “HARD!” Today she writes, “This test was a lot easier because we learned so much in a [short] matter of time it was crazy. I crossed off a bunch that I know now.”
Kelly only did 5 problems in August, and of the 5, only got 3 of them correct! She felt that the pretest was “difficult and confusing.” Today she writes, “It was easy, but there were a couple problems that I forgot how to do. And I did way more than last time.”
On the pretest, Michael wrote a note to himself: “Hi future self. This test was hard.” Today he says, “It was a piece of cake. Except for number 7.”
Mick did not journal his thoughts at the beginning of the year, but after his test today, he wrote, “This test was a lot easier than the first time. I feel I have learned A LOT in one year!”
Erin is a girl of few words. She felt the pre test was “very, very, very hard!” Today, it was “easy!”
Last August, Marita said, “I skipped almost every question. It was hard.” Today she says, “This was easier but I forgot how to do some. After I stared at it for a while, I realized what you do.”
Taya had a lot to say. “Ummm… what’s a FOIL method and what is the quadratic formula… What on God’s green earth is a hypotenuse?” Today, she has even more to say: “This was pretty easy. I answered all of them. WOW! I impress myself. Reading my pretest notes is like I have a time machine, and I got a blast from the past!”
The end of the year can be stressful for a teacher. The normal routine is off, students are anxious to get outside in the nice weather, and with so many kids playing sports in the evenings, the quality of homework being turned in is low. After reading the pre and post test comments, however, all the stress goes away. I am so proud of what was accomplished this year, and more importantly, so are they!
Click images below to enlarge.
Click here for a copy of the answer sheet.