Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Once, in a very blue moon, I allow my students to take a test with a partner. This practice was common in our previous curriculum, Connected Math Project. I like students working with each other because they tend to catch the silly errors, the not including a negative sign, or a simple miscalculation. The discussions between partners can be rich with math terminology, and lead to a more in-depth understanding by both members.

I had done this with this particular group of students once this year, with some marked success. I decided to try it again today. I gave them a choice - #1 they could choose to work with a partner with no re-do's on their test, their partner being their re-do, or #2 they could work alone and redo their test after I corrected it.

I had thought most students would choose to work with a partner, but out of my first hour class, only 2 sets of 2 buddied up. It will be an interesting progression through the day.

My 6th hour class is the lowest group, the one that could probably benefit the most from the discussion with a partner, the interaction of ideas. They are also the group who exhibits the least concern about work completion and grades. They also tend to be very social. My hope is this group will choose the work together option.

When I allow this, I always question the validity of the test scores. Are the scores truly indicative of what students know? My gut instinct tells me yes, they are pretty darned accurate. Occasionally, a low student partners with a brighter student and likely benefits from the pairing, gradewise, but that is a rarity. More often, the partners are like-skilled. Even in the off-balance pairings, I like to think the lower student benefitted from the interactions and explanations of the other partner, gleaning understanding from the matchup.

It is not a practice I would implement for every test, but on occasion, it is a fun option for students.

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