Monday, December 9, 2013

Too Much Help?

Whenever I proctor a test, I get student questions. I will clarify directions, but often I get the "spelling test question":
Me (reading from list): [random word]
Student: How do you spell [random word]?
I glare at the student. 
So, I have to be careful. I have to look at the question the student is working on. Sometimes my answer is, "That's what the question is asking if you know".

7th grade math. Test. Their teacher has warned me that these students are struggling. Stuff they should have mastered wasn't.

The previous day we had gone over their practice test (which looked remarkably like the actual test--up to and including having some of the problems using the same exact numbers as were used in the practice test). We spent the whole period on it. I took questions, going over exactly how to do all of them. They should have been ready for the test.

A boy raised his hand. He needed help subtracting $4.86 from $5. He was trying to borrow twice from the 5 to cover the tenths and hundredths places.

I looked at the question. It was a word problem. Person had $5 to spend, and a list of items was given. The question asked if a person bought certain things, how much change should the person get?

So, on the one hand, he should know how to borrow when subtracting. He should have learned this in an earlier grade. But on the other, he set up the problem correctly, just having trouble doing the computation.

In the end I decided to explain what he needed to do to get an answer. Whether he got it right after that...

The whole day it was like that. Many questions. Some of which I could answer.


  1. I always hated it when students asked questions on a test that I couldn't answer without just giving them the answer, but it sounds like you did the right thing for that student.

    (and I'm laughing over the 'how do you spell that?' thing)

  2. "How do you spell that?" XQJ!!KL. Maybe throw a few more X's in there.

    I hope after all that work, the kid with the math test at least got the right answer.


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