Wednesday, June 4, 2014

EOG Testing From the Inside: The Waiting Place

Have you ever read "Oh! The Places You'll Go!" by Dr. Suess? Do you remember the waiting place?

That's where I spent my day today. 

There's a lot of waiting involved in End of Grade Testing. You wait for supplies and materials. You wait on test administrators and proctors. You wait to begin the test. You wait for a break. You wait for the break to end. You wait for others to finish the test. You wait for lunch. You wait some more for lunch. You wait some more for lunch after that. Then you wait for the school day to end. 

Middle schoolers are not particularly patient people in general. Some of them at my school (the ones taking high school credit courses) are now on their fifth school day in a row of intensive, hours-long testing, with two more yet to go. 

It would be hard on anyone, but it's especially hard on 12-14 year old people full of hormones and energy. With each successive day, it becomes harder for them to cooperate and harder for us teachers to help them cooperate. 

I didn't see all of these today. But all this waiting, with no supplies, leads to some creative self entertainment:
  • Writing acrostic poems on scratch paper
  • Dismantling a pencil. Entirely. Leaving a piece of lead intact and the casing of the pencil cracked in pieces next to the eraser. All the more impressive given that no tools were used. 
  • Designing elaborate mazes using graph paper
  • Measuring one's own arm in thumb lengths
  • Closing the drawstring of the hood so tightly that only the mouth and bottom of the nose can be seen and going into a defensive sleep
  • Rediscovering all the words that can be spelled on a calculator held upside down
  • Picking their fingernails, pimples, and G-d forbid, their noses
  • Inventing new ways to tie shoes
  • Removing all the embroidery from a pair of socks with the fingernails
  • Drawing a map of Panem with annotations
  • Inventing of a new pattern of braiding for one's own hair
  • Folding oneself into pretzel-like shapes in a chair
It was a little better for me, myself, today, at least in terms of boredom. I had a read-aloud group. It's a test modification often given to students reading below grade level or who have limited English proficiency, wherein the test administrator reads the questions aloud to the students. The idea is that we are trying to test a student's math knowledge, not his or her reading (we had the test over that yesterday), so we remove that obstacle by reading the test to the child.  So, at least I had something to do. 

Reading a math test aloud is challenging for a math-phobe like myself, though. When I found out I would be doing so, I went and asked a math teacher for some pointers on how to read some things aloud. I was glad I did.
Whew! Talk about a foreign language! After all, I'm the one who tells the students who want to calculate their grades on the spot: No hablo matem√°ticas. But we made it through. We are tougher than the test. I just wish we didn't have to be. 


  1. I've seen every one of those things except the drawing of the map of Panem, which my teaching career predates. I especially enjoyed when the kids would write their deepest darkest secrets on the scratch paper and then argue with me when I tried to collect it.I had to call the site administrator over that one.

    1. Yes, I had a couple try to keep their paper as well, since they'd written letters to boyfriends or poetry on it. It would make a very interesting art show to hang the things kids do with their scratch paper.