The midterm exams took place last Friday leading into the first few days of this past week. I had to make midterms for all my general track students (2 tests). My part only makes up a portion of their midterm grade as my teaching partners’ tests make up the majority of the grade. For the first years, my test makes up 40%, whereas my test makes up 30% for my second years. It was an interesting experience making and grading tests.
After I made my first draft for the first years, I showed it to my teaching partner, who is also my supervisor. After a bit of time of looking it over, he came to me and said, “It is my general impression… yea… that this test… yea… is much to difficult for the first year general course students… yea…” Okay, maybe there was one less “yea,” but that was basically what he said. Now that I look back to that draft, I agree that it was really difficult. The final version was much different compared to the original. It turned into something a bit too easy. However, my supervisor still thought it was too difficult. He said that my predecessor would use multiple choice questions, and they were easy enough that the students could do it quickly. After a short discussion on the purpose of the test, he decided to go with my version only after putting hints in Japanese. I didn’t know exactly what hints he would use or even how, but I didn’t mind too much as I am the AET after all. It turns out that he put some of the answers in Japanese under the blanks, so my test was further made easy. My first years got an average of 35/40, or 87.5%, on my part with an overall average of about 70. I think the results will strengthen the trust between the two of us. I imagine that he will accept my final with more ease. I understand his original concerns as he and the students are used to one type of test, so now we are all still adjusting.
I didn’t have such a clash with my teaching partners for the second years. They approved my first draft, except for a map that I put on the test (students learned about telling directions). Some of the place names were blurred, so it might have been too hard for the students to read. I easily fixed that problem and went on my merry way. My second years got an average of 24/30, or 80%, on my part with an overall average of about 77. I was very happy with the results. The students really tried hard. Sometimes in class, I didn’t get much feedback from the students, which made it difficult. I couldn’t tell if the students understood the material, but I guess they were just trying to absorb all the material leaving me to deal with what seemed like blank faces.
I don’t grade harshly, at least I don’t think I do. I generally give points for effort. Learning a language is difficult, and I know that it can be frustrating. I want to encourage the students. However, as this is a test, most of the points are assigned to correctness. The least, or sometimes equal to effort, is grammar and vocabulary. My teaching partners have separate classes with the students, which are specifically for grammar. I only take off for misuse or misspelling of the tested terms.
I also had the privilege to grade the essays of 3-E’s midterm, which I did not make. The teacher who made that exam asked me if I could grade them, and I am always happy to help. The criteria that I had to use for grading were grammar, vocabulary, and flow. I could give a maximum of four points per criterion. This was a challenge, because it is harder to be fair when it comes to essays. I didn’t give any student full marks. In order for a student to achieve full marks from me, the student can only make a few minor mistakes at most. I think that reaching perfection on a test should give the student a sense of accomplishment. When I was in middle school and high school, the expectations were so high. Among students and parents, C's were not seen as average. Grades were defined similar to:
C = generally as bad as “cranky cops”
B = often as average as “brand beef”
A = usually as good as “awesome artisans”
I will use part of my post next week for a short discussion on education systems. This is my current phase. Stay tuned next week for another update!
今週の聖書の詩: “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
- Matthew 18:1-4 (NIV)
I think this is interesting, because it seems that there are a few implications here. Oftentimes, there is an emphasis placed on being as a humble child and believing in God. There is good reason as it is stated explicitly. However, we need to also look into how children do not have worries. They place their worries to their caretakers. We need to do the same by placing all our worries to our eternal father. He provides for our needs.
Why must we try to take control of everything? I think it all deals with the fear that events may be random. We don’t want a purposeless life. The funny thing is that we are so focused on making an order for everything. Many people refute the existence of God, especially as our creator making everything with order, and at the same time, they believe that the world was created by chance—fear of uncontrollable happenings with the belief that everything was made under such uncontrollable happenings.
今週の写真: Two weeks ago, there was a major cleaning time after the last period, which also involved waxing the floors.