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I have found that students are most attentive and eager to learn during an actual test. The reasons are obvious as they have the pressure of the test weighing on them. Since our main goal as teachers is to teach, I have become much more lenient in answering questions and actually instructing quietly during tests. Although it is not an exact science, I will usually take the amount of help I gave a student into account when grading.


Any thoughts?

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Yair , 

Thanks for sharing. I did something this year called the Untest. I believe I posted it on my posterous account  The idea was I wanted to see what they learned without the pressure of a test. I came in and I put on the board Chazarah of Perek X. There were certain activities like translation/shorashim, basic questions, and more critical thinking type questions.  In each section I gave them a choice and I allowed them to use their Chumashim. 

An amazing thing happened. I told them they had to do only 10-15 words many asked if they could do more. All the students even the weaker ones were motivated and engaged. 


I do however disagree on one point that you made. I believe our goals as teachers is to ensure student learning and our focus should not be on what we are teaching but rather what are our students learning. 

Thanks for sharing 


There was an article recently in the NY Times about how students remember what they were tested on better than anything else... Sometimes I create review questions before the test of the main points I would like them to know and then ask those or similar questions etc. The point is not to dumb things down but to make sure they master what they need to know. As one educator said, "What’s the difference how they know it? The main thing is they know it." There is something to be said for that at times.

Tzvi Daum
Thanks for sharing

I do agree that students need to master things. I am not sure though if giving a pen and paper tests and grading them is the best answer.
To be honest I am not sure what the balance is. To some people I don't grade enough yet my students learn and do the work and are pushed to think. I could also tell you before I give a test and I do give some how each student will do. So as another educator once said, " Why test them if you already know the outcome."

More thought and discussion required

As a teacher I find giving and grading tests the worst part of the job as it requires much work out of the classroom to demonstrate what I already know about each student. As you said, if you the answer why test? I think we test so students can know how well they are doing....oh and how else will you backup the labels we tend to stick on students? Seriously though, taking a test is a good learning experience for students. Without pressure or stress would we do anything in life? Obviously, it can be over done as well. Amybody who ever hopes to achieve anything in life will be tested in one manner or another. Often it is studying for the test which is the learning experience other times it is the test itself. Which reminds me I have to look at the Ramban on the Akidah about atah yadati again...


Here is a link to an article I would love to hear what you think

I looked quickly ... I think HW is the "doing" part of a regular system... that is where students put into action and practice what they learn. In a traditional Orthodox Jewish school it is very difficult to put into place a system of inquiry based learning as very few resources exist for students to tap into on tbeir own and much of what we teach is about the past and interpreting in a specific manner such as Rashi etc. It is really not about self interpretation and exploration. I think tech can play a major role in making improvements in this area both in terms of making learning more accessible for self exploration and also to enable students to be more creative in their learning. I have been doing some of that with my own students but we have a ways to go for that to become more widespread.




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