What went wrong with this quiz?
I have been doing math with kids for a while. Sixteen years paid. And more before that.
Why did this system of linear equations take kids more than triple the time I anticipated?
Writing good questions for the classroom, designing homework, making tests and quizzes. And when I offer a question, I expect a response. Sometimes I set up a mistake, prepared to talk about it. Sometimes I introduce a small twist, to take something that is easy for the kids, and make it challenging. I chose problems to drive conversations, knowing in advance where we are going. Sometimes I set up compare and contrasts (but I never call them that). Why is number three so much harder than number two, even though they look the same?
For tests, I know which skills I am looking for. I can avoid complications from tangents that I don’t mean to assess. I can create five of “the same” where the difficulty increases gradually, pulling them in. Or, for strong students, I can thoroughly mix easy and hard questions, and hector them to choose what to do first. “It’s you and the test, but which one of you is in charge?”
Which is all to say, I know where things are going. Usually.
Last week I gave a quiz. Solve graphically for x and y, and check: (in your check, indicate if your solution is “close” or “exact”). Then solve the same system algebraically, and check. I figured fifteen minutes. It took them about 45. Can you look at the equations, and offer ideas of what went wrong?
The grades were about what I expected – before I watched the unplanned marathon unfold. And I did share my concerns with both classes the next day, and I solicited their opinions of what went wrong, as well. But I’d like yours.