Monday, June 4, 2012

Exams and Preparation

Dear Parents,


We had a very good series of graduation speeches today!  What a joy to see the students and how much they’ve grown in their writing, confidence, delivery, and poise in front of an audience in a short few weeks.  Thank you to those parents who were able to attend today. Your kids “did you proud!” I hope to see many parents tomorrow as well.


As you know, the graduation speeches are worth half of the final exam grade.  I wanted to make sure to let you know, though, how your child can be studying for the pen-and-paper portion of the final exam.  I did make available to students a list of “fair game” for the exam, and told them they would be allowed to bring a 3x5 card as a “legal cheat-sheet” to the exam.


My exams are quite lengthy, but not particularly hard.  The trick is two-fold:  endurance and automatic recall.  The number of questions on the exam means that students can’t spend too much time plumbing the recesses of their brains for long-forgotten knowledge;  they need to have quick and rapid access to everything we have learned.  This means they will need to have studied! 


Creating a “cheat sheet” is one step in studying for the exam – it is in this stage that one identifies what one doesn’t know.  Further steps are somewhat dependent on the child’s learning style, but may include such techniques as creating and taking quizzes, reading aloud of notes, making flashcards, texting questions to a friend, drawing pictures of concepts (such as essay structure), copying notes, reviewing old tests and quizzes, and more.  There will be one 80-minute study session on Wednesday afternoon for all students, but that amount of time is unlikely to be sufficient for most students.  Please encourage your child to spend some quality time studying for my exam.


I look forward to seeing all of you at graduation in a little over a week.  Can you believe how quickly the year has flown?




Final Exams 7

Dear Parents of 7th graders:


I just finalized the 7th grade exam.  As I’ve been telling the students for over a week now, it is going to be a LONG exam, but it should have NO surprises.  I gave students a list of “fair game” topics on May 24, and they have been working on review activities for the past week.  The real key to this exam will be stamina and AUTOMATIC recall.  Because of the length of the exam, students will need to be able to rapidly recall definitions and concepts, without hemming and hawing for long periods of time on any one question.  It is essential, therefore, that students put in some real time studying.  There will be an 80 minute study period for all students on Wednesday afternoon at school, but that will not be sufficient for most kiddos. 


To encourage studying, I have had students doing projects on exam topics and presenting/sharing with the class.  I have also told them that they may bring a 3x5 card to the exam as a legal “cheat sheet”.  This card may be filled in on both sides.  The creation of the card is, in itself, an act of “studying,” in that the individual must first identify what he or she doesn’t know.  Students should not stop there;  they should do more studying, such as reviewing the midterm and other tests and quizzes, verbally quizzing a friend, proofreading sentences, writing definitions, reading notes aloud repeatedly, and other techniques.


In case you did not get the earlier email with the topics on the exam, here they are again:

·         Capitalization rules

·         Punctuation rules (comma, semicolon, colon, hyphen, apostrophe, quotation marks)

·         Irregular verbs (ex:  bring, brought, brought NOT bring, brang, brung)

·         Kinds of sentences and associated punctuation

·         Fun and useful words

·         Language arts terms

·         Word parts

·         Ten Little Indians plot and vocabulary

·         Essays – genres, structure, expectations




Abby Wald