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Tuesday - October 7, 1997

I've noticed something: when an entire class does poorly on a test or quiz, I take it personally. As I'm grading the test, I feel like ripping up the papers or storm to the student and demand to know why the heck they weren't paying attention when we covered that material.
    Such is the situation I am in right now. I just gave both Algebra I classes a chapter test on adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing positive and negative numbers. Very basic stuff. The class average for 4th hour was 64%. I haven't crunched the numbers for 5th hour, yet, but my gut feeling tells me that it is roughly the same, if not worse. The 64% is not just the mean, though. It is also roughly the median score! There was a total of 5 B's and 0 A's. The highest score was 88%. To put it another way, the "clue meter" was not even registering in either class.
    So now what? Is this my fault? Did I do such a terrible job of teaching it that they were all but guaranteed to fail it? Or is it a residue of all the misconceptual baggage they carry from other classes? Or did they just not pay attention in class? Did they do the homework? If they didn't understand the material, WHY DIDN'T THEY ASK MORE QUESTIONS?
    The plan for now is to give them back their tests without telling them the answers. They are to then work out the ones they got wrong on a separate sheet of paper to turn in at the end of the hour. They will be allowed the use of their notes and textbook. I'm not sure if I will just give them the full points on the re-take or half points, or what. In any event, I think it's just a book keeping event. They won't understand the material anymore by tomorrow so the grade from the test won't reflect that. If they try, though, they should all raise their scores at least a little.
    So much for lecturing tomorrow... which reminds me: Parker stopped by today during 2nd hour. Unfortunately for him, I wasn't lecturing today. Tomorrow is chapter test time in Algebra II, so we did a chapter review today. Chapter reviews help the class (in theory), but make for a boring time to evaluate teaching methods. I did send him a "change of plans" email this morning, but he got it too late (apparently). I told him of my weekly plan on the web, but I have serious doubts that he will ever look at it.
    He also mentioned that the two classes I'm teaching (the two Algebra I classes count as one class) is not enough. I was under the assumption that I wouldn't ever teach Geometry as it was new this year and Maureen wanted to get used to teaching it. When I told this to Parker, though, he wasn't pleased. So I talked to Maureen and she said that, yes, I will eventually teach Geometry, too. I have no clue when I will start, though.
    Hopefully, Algebra II will do much better on their chapter test!

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