Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Things I've Learned about Giving Online Exams

Today is day 2 of our semester exams, and I've been giving mine on Schoology.
Some things I've learned:

1. I used ExamView to create an exam then imported it. The process was super easy. I found, though, that not all of the correct answers came with the questions. (Thank goodness I discovered that before the actual exam started!)

2. Some kids prefer paper exams; I made them email me to request one so that I didn't make unnecessary copies. They still have to enter their answers online.

3. Even mid-exam I had the opportunity to edit questions/answers. Not that I would ever make a mistake (ha!) but if a kid just happened to not be able to find the correct answer (because maybe it wasn't there) I could change the problem, they refresh, and the day is saved.  We won't mention the problem that I edited a couple of times and still couldn't get right. Ugh.  (Luckily the kids just laughed with (at?) me and weren't too worried about it.)

[Make sure the kid finding all of the mistakes is sitting close to you unless you want to get a good workout.]

4. Make sure the exam is resumable! If it's not the kids can't refresh.

5. Automatic grading is wonderful. But I'm still looking through the fill-in-the-blank problems to make sure that they get credit for entering x = 2 when I put the acceptable answer as 2. Minor details.

6. For scratch paper, I gave the kids a piece of paper that also had a place for them to write their answers. I thought it might be helpful for those kids who want to go back and review their work. Some used it, some didn't.

Is it a perfect system?  No. But a lot of that had to do with teacher error.

Will I use an online exam again? For sure. It's saving me from having to bubble in the scantron form, writing problem changes on the board, trying to beat everyone else to the scantron machine, totaling the scores, and entering them on the computer.  And now that I have these exams done I should be able to tweak for next year.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Today's wins...

Exams are next week and we're in full-scale review mode.

Here's the good stuff:

1.  Math 3 kids pulled out their Parent Functions foldables that I spent hours on this summer. Made all that time worth it.  (Note to self: add a page of transformations to it for next year)

2. One student took the time to watch a screencast I'd made on how to solve a system of 3 equations. And then he got the review problem on the exam review correct. :)

3. I know it's the typical end of the quarter scramble, but kids are starting to take an interest in what work they've done and what is marked as missing. Better late than never?

I gave my Math 1 kids a print out of their grade sheets because so many have missing assignments. Part of their work today was to locate these papers (because you know they're stuffed in the bottom of their backpacks) and if they couldn't find them, fill out a google form telling me what papers they need.

My big take-aways today:
I tend to allow students to turn in late work. And then I have crazy random papers in crazy random places.  So from now on I'm setting up a bin for them to work into as long as it's attached to a Late Work slip. Maybe that'll help keep me organized a bit more.

I need to start naming assignments better. I think in Math 3 we've had 3 assignments called "Factoring Polynomials" lately. So trying to identify what's missing has been a pain in the rear.

I'm definitely making some changes for next semester!

AND DID YOU SEE THE DESMOS NEWS?  Apparently you can now edit Activities that other people have made. LOVE IT!!!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A few of my favorite things...

In my Math 3 classes (which I've been treating like an Algebra 2 class lately and it's totally driving me crazy) we're factoring, solving, and graphing polynomials. I legitimately think this is the hardest topic for them of the year because of all of the stuff it forces them to know.

Want to graph? Ok, well find the zeros.
Need the zeros?  Factor it.
Won't factor? Try the quadratic formula.
What about the shape of the function? Check the degree and leading coefficient.

For kids who live day-to-day and only tend to remember one "thing" at a time, this is torture. My second period class, who I would consider my most involved group, has been in a revolt because I'm expecting them to remember all of this stuff.

Yesterday I gave them my most favorite assignment - this chart.
And then there was a back.

Needless to say, they weren't happy.

In Precalc we've been graphing sine and cosine curves. We started out with "Here are transformations, how does that affect the curve?", moved on to "Here's a graph, what's the equation?"  (loved using a Desmos Activity for that!), and today I gave them a set of data for them to graph and fit a sine curve to. It's interesting how they can all graph given an equation, are pretty good with fitting an equation to a graph with "nice" numbers, but the learning happens with the messy data.

We also did a fun activity on Friday plotting our individual Biorhythms (the idea that you have an intellectual, physical, and emotional cycle) to see how exams will fit in next week.

Oh, I do love me some trig.

(By request, here's a link to all of my intro to trig & graphing stuff.)