Sometimes it isn’t that we are bad teachers. And it isn’t that we aren’t giving students the lessons they need. It is that students aren’t willing to shore up their knowledge each night to make sure they know what they know, and figure out how to learn what they don’t know.
So I try to aperiodically remind them of that fact.
Yesterday, for example, I hinted to my students that they might have a pop quiz. We’ve been working on quadratics, and have seen questions like:
and the latest feather in our caps
It’s a lot. And quadratic inequalities killed my kids last year. So I told my students to spend the night just reviewing the material and making sure that they can organize the information in their heads. They come to class today and I give them a two question pop quiz, both questions on quadratic inequalities. 6 minutes. Most are frantic. Clearly many didn’t shore up their knowledge.
I then tell them to stop and put their pencils down. I tell them it wasn’t for a grade. I tell them I’m not collecting it. They breathe a sign of relief. We then had a conversation.
What was hard about the pop quiz?
Did you think you knew the material?
Did taking this quiz demonstrate that? Or did it tell you something else?
It was a nice and short conversation and I think it really drove home the point: you think you know, but you have no idea.
So here’s something for you to consider doing, if you’re cruel like me: a very occasional fake pop quizzes can be a nice conversation starter about studying and nightly responsibility.
UPDATE: So in this case, the faux pop-quiz was only moderately successful. Last year so many kids didn’t know what to do on the 1D quadratic inequalities question on the final unit assessment. This year they were less were confused. But still there were enough students who didn’t know how to solve it to give me pause. I realize now that we learned so many different types of linear/quadratic things that students kept confusing “what’s the question asking?” and “how do I solve that kind of problem?” So I need to come up with a way to emphasize at each point of the unit these two fundamental questions. And maybe designing a short activity where students are forced to answer those questions.