Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Half way there!

So this week my class is preparing for midterm exams (which students take Wednesday and Thursday next week). Each year when I create my midterm (none of my midterms have ever been the exact same in 4 years) I try to reflect on all of the topics we have covered. One reason I do this is to make sure all of the important material is on the exam. Also, about this time I usually start worrying about pacing. Seeing how far my students have come since September makes me feel better about not necessarily being where I want to be in the curriculum.

Last year when I was creating my exam I realized that an important part of my class was not covered on the exam, the cognitive tutor! We spend about 30% of our class time on the computer yet that did not reflect directly on the test. I mean sure doing the problems on the tutor has helped students reach a better understanding of the topics we covered in class. However, if you looked at my exam you would have no idea that students ever went to lab. So I decided to add a "computer problem" to my midterm exam. I did this by typing out a problem from the Algebra 1 Cognitive Tutor unit titled "Linear Models and First Quadrant Graphs". I pulled up the curriculum browser and randomly chose a few problems from the unit, typed them up and gave it to students as part of the exam. Students had to fill in a table (including quantity names, units etc.) and graph the scenario on a template that looks a lot like a screenshot of that unit.

Where did I get the template you ask? The resource center of course. You too can use this template. Simply log into the resource center. Then click on community tab then "see all in algebra 1". The file is on the second page and is called Algebra -unit 2 graph and table worksheet quadrant 1. It was created by Brian Reeves. Thanks Brian, I love the template!

Most of my students had finished this unit a while ago. So this week we did a practice problem in class and I had them log into the Cognitive Tutor under review mode so they could get more practice. My students usually do really well on this part and it shows that they have mastered graphing, writing expressions, evaluating expressions, and solving equations! That is a lot of information in one problem!

How do you incorporate the Cognitive Tutor into your midterm and final assessments?

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