When you have a good idea

During review time for our AP Exam I sometimes struggle with how much homework to give. Lolz. Actually, I struggle with that all year long. Who doesn’t. I have yet to find a teacher who really loves the way she does homework and sticks with it for more than 3 years. If you have the key, fill me in. 

The reason why review time is slightly harder for me though is because some kids really need to put some serious time into studying at this point. Some kids have it in the bag already. I don’t want to assign a bunch of problems that some kids won’t need and other kids won’t do and then get frustrated when I grade them. 

A few weeks ago, I wrote seven new FRQs based on the secure practice exam that College Board released this summer (and that we used for our Mock Exam). I gave the kids two days in class to work on them. I posted full solutions, but I was intentionally trying to be less helpful in class. 

I took the same seven problems and tweaked them slightly (sort of like you would if you were creating a different version of the same test). I told the kids I would cut up the seven problems; they would draw one out of the bag; and that’s the one they would do for a quiz grade in fifteen minutes or less. We would repeat the process two more days, for a total of three quiz grades. 

Today was their first quiz. I was–in general–very pleased with their scores. It looks like they studied what they needed to study. 

What I didn’t foresee originally though is the piece I’m most proud of.  I can’t hand these back right away (since the same seven problems are still in the bag, ready to be drawn for our next two quizzes). But, I wanted to give feedback (obviously). So, for each score, if the kid got 9/9, I wrote in her comment box for that grade something like, “Yay Susie! Great job on the Motion FRQ!” If Susie didn’t get 9/9, I could easily say, “You need to revisit part (c) of the Rate In/Rate Out FRQ.” Or, “You need to work on your explanations on parts (a) and (d) of the Table FRQ.” Or, “Pi! You forgot pi for Washer Method!” You get the idea. Because their practice FRQs line up with their quiz questions, they can go look up exactly what I’m talking about without sacrificing the integrity of the quiz questions. I’m hoping these concise comments will motivate them to look up what they missed. Fingers crossed. Maybe I’m getting excited over nothing. 😉

All this to say: I’m pleased with what most of them know and what they’ve done to get to this point. And I’m pleased that I came up with a new way to help them review and focus, when there’s so very much vying for their attention and time. 

One week, friends. We’ve got this. 

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