We finished our unit in History and Science at the same time and I think my little student had a wake up call. He expected mom to be easier than his teachers and he found out differently. Unlike his teachers, I know his potential and I know how smart he is so I expect excellent quality work. I gave him a chance to retest if he didn't do well but warned him if he failed a second time then we would simply redo those units. I don't have to move on and keep teaching a classroom, I can stay on rocks and minerals for six months if we need to get that material learned.
Later my husband and I sat down and talked about his test scores and what we noticed. In school a student is often allowed to get away with rote memorization. They don't have to learn the fact they have to memorize certain things about the fact. If you change or manipulate the wording, it will inadvertently confuse them in some cases. What I had designed was a review and then separate test that didn't allow for that style of learning. He had to actually know and have learned the material to score well because while I had given him the information he needed to test, I hadn't spelled it out for him. He was asked on review to know the steps of the rock cycle for example. On the test he was asked to draw a photo of the rock cycle. If one knows the steps in the cycle, drawing the chart (even using words instead of pictures) isn't difficult. If you just memorized a photograph and expected to fill in the blanks it and then there is no photograph or blanks to be filled in it presents a different challenge.
I also feel more confident that now his protests of "I learned this already" or "I already know this" are just that. Protests. I know I went more in-depth with the material than a typical grade school classroom covers. I did this to make sure we weren't just going over things he already knew. As a result, the tests were extremely challenging, but only if he hadn't paid attention to the material we covered. If he'd just filled in his worksheets and blew off his review then he was going to struggle. He has bragged since we started home school last year that in school he never did a single review and he passed every test. As most of us can recall, that sets up a bad study habit when you do get into Jr High and High School. So he filled in the questions on his review but he didn't study the review sheets. He was above reviewing. Hopefully these two tests taught him something about using the materials you are given wisely in the future and thinking you don't have to do something important.
After going over both of his low test scores with him in class and giving him back his review sheets, I allowed him to retest today. I'm happy to say he passed with flying colors and didn't take nearly as long to do them. I think what had frustrated me the most was on the first tests he would simply skip a 10 point question like drawing the rock cycle. I explained it would be much better to have given me a partial drawing than nothing at all because then he could have gotten at least some of the points for it.
I'm glad tomorrow is Friday! I feel like we have both earned our weekend this week - especially since he's testing in Math tomorrow. (Refer to my post last year about cookies, though instead of those he and I will be making zucchini bread. He wasn't thrilled about learning how to do this project but he did the garden with us this summer for his scouting badge and I thought this would be a great chance for him to get some life skills/home ec in by helping me prep the zucchini and baking the breads to freeze. We will be using Grandma's recipe and I will have to do a follow up post to let you know it turns out!)
Oh and for the curious have a peek at our test, modify it, and feel free to use with your students: Test is Here