Language! Please!

Kelly O’Shea makes my favorite SBG blog, Physics! Blog!

She recently wrote,

Hey Joe, I think we’re on the same page. I don’t even let them use any sort of “re”anything in their language. They want to test, not to retest, their skills. If the extra tests are “retests”, then every test after the first week of school is also a “retest” since it also tests skills that were tested before using completely different questions.

This is part of the secret sauce.  Students (people) store information in the form of words, and the word you use determines what information gets stored.  Drop the “re” and students will literally think differently about assessments.

Kelly finishes the paragraph with characteristic sensitivity:

It is necessary to be really clear to the kids about that, though, because many of them expect the same problems, maybe with different numbers (or maybe not), because that’s the only kind of extra opportunity they’ve even heard of in the past. They can then feel really cheated when they get a brand new test that doesn’t look anything like the last test they took. Kelly.

It’s important to remember the context our students live in. We’re working for them, after all. Don’t fall victim to the traps I fell in!

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