Parenting Tip: Will That Test Project Make them Think or Just Memorize

Parenting Tip: Will That Final Exam/Project Make them Think or Just Memorize?

Posted on Posted in Blog, Color Me Educated

Parenting Tip: Will That Final Exam/Project Make them Think or Just Memorize?

I get it. It’s the end of the school year and parents, teachers and students have reached the end of their curriculum rope.  I used to be a teacher and there is nothing more challenging than trying to engage students at the end of the school year.  After spring break you have to use every trick in the book to keep kids from practically howling at the warm weather they haven’t seen for months.  To keep students from finding ingenious reasons to go to the bathroom (aka walk the halls), stealthily text in class and practice the art of sleeping with eyes open many schools require students take some type of final exam or complete a major project.
Projects or final exams/ tests, as well as lessons throughout the school year,  should have academic rigor.  In the education world academic rigor is
educational expectations that are academically, intellectually, and personally challenging. Rigorous learning experiences, for example, help students understand knowledge and concepts that are complex, ambiguous, or contentious, and they help students acquire skills that can be applied in a variety of educational, career, and civic contexts throughout their lives.
In a nutshell academic rigor on tests should make your child think – now and forever more.  Learning how to think critically is a major skill needed in order to be successful in college.  A skill that is reportedly lacking for many college freshmen yet desired by many employers.   While higher level classes are designed to make this happen, all teachers should hold the expectation that every student can and will learn.  And in order to do this, they must make them THINK! 
Aren't all tests designed to make students think? Yes and no.  Some tests are better than others.  Some tests ask questions that don’t require much thinking, just memorization.  These types of tests usually require students to hold onto the information learned only for the test.  Tests or projects that make students analyze the information usually help to make connections to the real world.  These are the types of tests and projects I am hoping and looking for. Fingers crossed (and toes too)!

What to look for in your child’s projects or exams?


What Low Level Thinking Questions Can look like:
  • Emphasis is on facts and simple recall of previously taught information.
  • The answer is either right or wrong.
For Example:
  • Match or identify terms.
  • Name a person or character.
  • Find the perimeter or area of rectangle.
  • Compare/contrast….
What Medium Level Thinking Questions Can Look Like:
  • Students must explain “how” or “why” and often estimate or interpret to respond.
For Example:
  • Identify and summarize the major events, problem, solution, conflicts from a book read or event in history.
  • Explain the cause-effect of historical events
  • Solve a multiple-step problem and provide support with a mathematical explanation that justifies the answer
What High Level Thinking Questions Can Look Like (Have RIGOR/CRITICAL THINKING):
  • Identify a problem, plan a course of action, enact that plan, and make decisions based on collected data.
  • Multiple solutions are possible.
  • Students often connect multiple content areas to come up with unique and creative solutions.
  • ·
 For Example:
  • Find a problem or concern in your community or school by taking a survey or collecting data from a nearby lake.  Students will then need to utilize their writing/math skills to analyze data and come up with a practical solution.
  • Students are asked to evaluate the effectiveness of solution or the solution of others.

Will your child have projects, final exams or both for the end of this school year?

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