One of the key ways to learn is by reading a text or manual.
But when one starts to teach a class (whether it be middle school, high school or intro college classes), most students assume that the teacher will tell them orally all the essential ideas, facts, methods, etc. needed to score well on the tests and quizzes.
This is not what teachers hope for, but it is the reality for most classes. There may be a few well motivated students who will spend adequate time working through the test study guides and sample tests.
I had a Cumberland student in my summer physics classes, who would show me her answers to the supplemental work that I put on the Web for my class.
So how can teachers get most students in their classes to make a significant effort to learn from the text in addition to studying class notes? I have concluded there is no simple way. But there is a way, requiring a considerable effort on the part of a teacher.
Here is my approach. Take each test and divide it in half. The first half will be done by two students (a partnered test). The second half will be done by the individual student.
To entice (not force) students to work through the text, I put out an elaborate set of study questions for each chapter on the Web. Then I tell the students at the start of the class that they can answer these study questions on loose leaf paper and put these materials in a folder that they can use in their partnered test. (No other aids permitted.)
To ensure that the student’s work is their own, I require that the folder material be hand printed or written neatly in cursive handwriting, no typed work allowed.
At the start of the individual test, I collect the folders from those students who have worked through my study questions for the chapters covered on the test. The materials in the folders will be graded on a scale of up to 20 points, which will be added to a student’s points.
In my classes, I give from three to four class tests. So a hard working student who does folders with all the study question answers for each test may gain from 60 to 80 points (out of a total of 1,000 points). This is clear reward (and incentive) for students who learn from the text book chapters.
The students who don’t want to turn in a folder, relying on course notes only, may realize that some of their classmates have an edge in gathering points. They may start doing a folder for the second or subsequent tests. Incidentally, I don’t allow the use of folders on any cumulative final exam.
In this approach, I spend about three times as much time grading test related material; first the partnered tests, second the folder material and lastly the individual test.
I don’t use machine graded tests. I hand grade my tests so I can print my corrections. The students receive back their tests to keep. The serious students will also spend more time on the course.
I compose the study questions for each chapter. These questions cover the main concepts of each chapter and include some thought questions, where understanding and analysis is required.
When I write the test items, I refer to the study questions and compose items that are somewhat related. In this way, a student who really understood the text chapters would be able to answer the test items more easily.
I invite any readers, whether student, teachers or learners to comment or critique my approach. There are likely other approaches that encourage most students to carefully read and learn from a textbook.
Or course, the text must be carefully selected so it is understandable to students with adequate reading skills. My email is email@example.com .
SKY EVENTS AHEAD: The moon is best seen in the a.m. hours (tonight it rises about 10:30 p.m.) and can be easily seen in the early daylight hours.
On Aug. 21, the moon will appear half full in the southern dawn sky. With the absence of the moon from the early evening hours, this week will be an ideal time to spot the Milky Way from a dark sky area.
Drive away from streetlights and brightly illuminated stores. Once in a dark area, let your eyes become dark adapted so the rods in your retina become more sensitive and your pupils dilate or expand to let in the most light.
This can take more than a few minutes. I go out to a local cemetery and just sit in my car seat listening to the radio for a while.
The Milky Way runs across the sky from the northeastern horizon through nearly the top of the sky and then down to the southern horizon. This glow is caused by the combined light of innumerable distant stars and gas clouds.
Bob Doyle invites any readers comments and questions. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org . He is available as a speaker on his column topics.
One of the key ways to learn is by reading a text or manual.
Peanuts and Cracker Jack beat any foam finger
Times have changed, and for the better, as this week marks the third year in a row NFL training camps have opened and have not taken center stage in the cities of Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Washington. That, of course, is due to the play of the three baseball teams that inhabit said cities, the Orioles, the Pirates and the Nationals — two of whom hold first place in their respective divisions, with the other one entering play on Wednesday just 2 1/2 games out of first.
How ironic — and how sad — that the Potomac Highlands Airport Authority plans a closed executive session to discuss the open meetings law.
Don’t do it
Temperatures have been moderate recently but are projected to rise to the upper 80s and low 90s later this week, so we want to remind you: Never leave children unattended in a vehicle.
He means well, and this time they spared his life
Our pal Phil is the only re-enactor certified in writing by both the Lee and Custis families to portray Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee (whose wife was Mary Anna Custis Lee). When he’s in uniform, he generally stops at the bottom of the path that leads to the summit of Little Round Top, salutes Capt. Gary and First Sgt. Goldy and asks permission to join us. (Get it? Generally ... General Lee?) We always return his salute and grant him permission, in part because he’s our friend and also because the real Lee never got to see what it really looks like from up there. (Get it? Grant ... Grant? U.S. Grant? Real Lee ... really? OK. I hear you. That’s enough. Seriouslee.) Phil gets a kick out of being able to sneak up on us while we’re distracted by tourists.
It’s hotter here than in D.C. or Baltimore
At this time of the year, the weather is a frequent subject of conversation, particularly the temperatures. We are now in the “Dog Days,” usually the hottest days of the year. The term comes from our sun appearing to be near the “Dog Star” (Sirius) and the “Little Dog Star” (Procyon). In reality, the sun is now about 94.5 million miles away while Sirius is 8.6 light years away with Procyon at 11 light years distance. Sunlight takes only 507 seconds to reach us, while the two dog stars’ light takes about a decade to travel to our eyes. So our sun is in the same direction (but not distance) as these two bright winter evening stars.
Sale of quart-sized Mason jars lagging, merchants claim
The opening day of Maryland’s squirrel hunting season is Sept. 6 and I am guessing you will be able to drive a lot of miles on the Green Ridge State Forest and see very few vehicles belonging to hunters of the bushytail. It wasn’t always that way. In the early 1960s, when I was a high school student in Cumberland, there was no Interstate 68. What existed was U.S. Route 40 and in the last couple of hours before daylight on the opening day of squirrel season there was an almost unbroken line of tail lights and brake lights between Cumberland and Polish Mountain.
Columnist, son are range finders, but where are .22 shells?
We feel pretty lucky on this side of the Potomac to have a nice shooting range to utilize for free and within decent driving distance.
Opposition and inclusion understood
Those of you who have been here before know how I feel about the late great Len Bias, who I will remember foremost as Leonard Bias, the polite, spindly Bambi-eyed kid from Hyattsville’s Northwestern High School, who could throw a dunk through the floor, yet had the most beautiful jump shot I have ever seen.
Kicking the can down the road was one of the things American kids did to pass the time in the old days, particularly if they lived in rural areas where there was little traffic to contend with.
Further proof you should never bet on baseball
Had you known in March that ...
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