Saturday, March 20, 2010

Inside Four Walls: Catch - 22

So this last week I gave tests to my Geometry and Algebra 2 classes. Both classes did extremely well on the tests, with class averages into the high 70's and a ton of A's & B's in all of them as well. So what's the problem?

For state tests, calculators are not allowed. I have taken away their calculator in my Algebra 2 classes and have gotten some complaints about it, even though I keep the numbers relatively small. But in Geometry, if I take away their calculators then I am left with creating 30,60, 90 & 45,90 triangles...which narrows my figures down to equilateral triangles, squares, and hexagons. So I find myself allowing calculators for Geometry. So do I prepare them for the test or do I let them use it so I can broaden my questions?

In Geometry we tested on surface area and volume. For those that haven't taken Geometry in years there are about 2 formulas for each 3-d solid (prisms, cylinders, cones, pyramids, and spheres). That's ten formulas. I used to put them on the test because they were on the released questions for the CSTs. Last year, our students said they weren't. So I wasn't planning on giving the formulas to them, but I did.

The same goes for Algebra 2. We finished up series and sequences. There are about 6 formulas they need to know for the material. I put them on the board in random order, so they would have to know something about them. But it still made it easier for them.

So here's my catch-22. If I don't give them the formulas, then I am preparing them for the CSTs, but they will probably fail the test and might not pass the class (I struggle with things like this every chapter). But if I give them the formulas, then they won't memorize them and know them for the CSTs even though they pass the chapter test.

So the question comes down to what's more important the chapter tests/class or the CSTs?


Ricochet said...

Do what my physics teacher did: put formulas on the board - but more than you need for the test.

In other words, if you don't know which one you need, it will not help you.

Your test (CST) doesn't give them a formula sheet?

Mr. W said...

That's not a bad idea. I like that one a lot thanks.

Our state test will give a sheet for the sciences, but not the math. They have put in some of the formulas for certain problems, but not all.

Ricochet said...

Ours (whether the end of course tests or the graduation tests) gives a sheet of formulas - so I can't mine to take them seriously either.

Mr. W said...

for our finals we allow the students a 4X6 note card for formulas or whatever they want.

So they put math formulas on the test too? Must be nice...another reason to hate CA education.