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I have been terrible at remembering to do this, because while I know that Sunday is technically the 1st day of the week, I treat it as my last day.  Better late than never?

Anyway, while I do my best to use guiding questions in class, I have a question of my own:

Fellow teachers, how do you make sure students understand what you’re looking for on quizzes and tests?

In the last two weeks, it has been decided that I can have a little more freedom in preparing my TransMath students for Algebra.  As such, they took a quiz that was 100% written by me for the very first time on Friday.

When I started teaching four years ago, it was recommended that I used the stock quizzes that came with the books.  But I noticed students would do one or two questions, and then lose sight of what they were supposed to be doing and the bottom of the page would have evidence of confusion and guessing.  So my quizzes generally have instructions, and then 1-4 questions labeled A through D under each specific set of instructions.  “Simplify by combining like terms…etc.”

I keep it small.  There are never more than 20 items on a quiz, and the entire quiz is worth 10 points.

When I pass it out, they know not to start, because I’ll point things out and make comments before they start.  Things like, “Remember question 5 has parts A and B, so don’t rush and skip part B!”…

That’s why I was a little confused when I got this back on one of my quizzes on Friday.


It’s a crummy cell-phone pic, so bear with me.

This student treated the entire test like a multiple-choice test.  There were three questions on the back that did not have multiple parts a and b, so the student just left those blank.  (And this student was not the only one who did this.)

I don’t think this is a student who would intentionally do something like that just to get out of work…so my question is how do I fix these misconceptions?  Of course, the student and I will have a talk, and the student will be able to take the alternate form of this quiz for credit, but I hear stories like this from other teachers all the time.

Sometimes you write a matching section on a quiz, and the student writes T and F for each option.

It’s important for my students to learn the vocabulary, so I don’t think I should ax terms like difference and product in favor of subtract and multiply.  This class goes to Algebra next year so I do need to make sure they were ready.

I guess my question for this week is “How do you ensure clarity in your test directions?”

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