Tuesday, February 7, 2017

I'd Like to Buy a Vowel

Each quarter we give a "predictor" assessment for the high stakes test which lies ahead. The kids know the routine; there is even a special app on their iPads so that they can access the test that much more conveniently.

As the teacher it is my role to "green light" the test, and in doing so I have a few options. One is to put a download password on the assessment. I have the sense that the creators meant for this feature to prevent students from taking the test outside of class where, presumably, they could get unauthorized assistance.

That concern is not very relevant to me. I've found that 6th graders don't really want to take the test in class, much less anywhere else, nor do they care enough about the results to bother cheating. I personally like the password because it forces everyone to stop and perhaps even listen to me for a moment before they plunge into multiple choice land, and I try to make my passwords somewhat amusing.

A few years ago, a student actually guessed the download key before I could give it, and ever since then it's been my practice to challenge the kids to guess what it might be. Today was no exception, and after a few hollered-out inaccurate predictions, one of the students suggested we play hangman for the answer.

It was brilliant!

Analyzing the word cues and clues and employing other strategies to decipher the password was a perfect warmup for the test. And? Although I can't prove any causal correlation, as a group, they didn't do too bad at all.

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