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A recent discussion with a CM using friend leads me to ask …
What did Charlotte do with evaluations? Did students fail or repeat materials if they showed poor understanding? How do you judge “poor” understanding? How do you all do it in your CM? Do you grade them? Do you go over them with the child? How do you change your schedule/plans based on what you see in evaluations?
What’s the purpose of evaluations in CM?
I’ve been watching this thread, hoping for some answers, too!
Consider the thread “bumped”!TristanParticipant
Okay, how about I start? I won’t be terribly helpful I’m afraid and I can only speak to what I do not what Charlotte did.
The only subjects where my students do not move ahead/on when showing poor understanding are skill based, like math or upper level science (where they need to understand concepts that build upon one another). But that never is discovered at the end of a term with an evaluation/exam. It is something discovered in the middle of the muddle that is our day to day learning. If we reach the end of a term or year and only then discover that my child has this faulty understanding of skill based subjects I have not been paying attention!
The way this plays out is that we hang out working on a topic in math until they ‘get it’. This means I change my schedule or plans, slowing down until we grasp the concept.
In content based subjects like history if we reach the end of a book, term, or year and they have missed something important it is usually for one of a few reasons:
1. They didn’t pay full attention. This is their loss. They can go learn it on their own.
2. I taught with materials that were to difficult to understand for a particular child’s ability. My bad! This is where we can either move on and pick it up the next time around (in a few years) or we find a better book to read for the topic that fits their ability/understanding.
For these content subjects I don’t go back usually. We’ll come around to them again in a few years or my child will come across a motivating reason to find out the information they do not know and they’ll teach themselves at that point. If they are asking for help I will give it, or for resources I will give them those. This means I do NOT change my schedule or plan. However if I realize early on with a new book that it’s not a good fit I will happily shelve it for a later year and find something that is a better fit. If their narrations have been decent and I simply don’t realize that their grasp on a topic is flimsy until exams we just move on until we rotate back around to the topic in a few years.
Does that make sense? Is it remotely related to what you were asking?Sonya ShaferModerator
Those are great questions. I don’t know the exact answers to all of them, but here are some thoughts to add to the discussion.
I’m assuming by “evaluations” you mean end-of-term examinations. Charlotte mentioned a couple of situations in which students might have done poorly on their exams. Sometimes, it was simply a matter of the child, as a person, “taking” better to one subject and not another.
“It rarely happens that all the children in a class are not able to answer all the questions set in such subjects as history, literature, citizenship, geography, science. But here differences manifest themselves; some children do better in history, some in science, some in arithmetic, others in literature; some, again, write copious answers and a few write sparsely; but practically all know the answers to the set questions” (Vol. 6, p. 241).
She also used exams as a means to evaluate whether changes needed to be made in the teaching approach. For example, perhaps shorter passages needed to be read at a time, better introductions to the reading needed to be designed, or maybe the book that had been used was not the best choice after all.
“After the experience of over a quarter of a century in selecting the lesson books proper to children of all ages, we still make mistakes, and the next examination paper discovers the error! Children cannot answer questions set on the wrong book; and the difficulty of selection is increased by the fact that what they like in books is no more a guide than what they like in food” (Vol. 6, p. 248).
Exam papers were definitely looked over and evaluated, but I get the impression that such evaluations were conducted with an eye toward “how can we help this child grow more as a person and cultivate his desire for knowledge more” rather than pass/fail.
Some of the answer, too, might depend on the subject. For example, if a child does not understand a math concept, it could be futile to move on until that concept is mastered. In that case, the evaluation would tell us where the child needs more attention and future study would be designed with that in mind.
Over all, it seems that end-of-term examinations should, ideally, turn up no huge surprises if we are faithfully doing the pre-reading reviews and after-reading narrations that help the child form that mental “rope” of knowledge, adding the next lesson onto the previous one. But then, we are dealing with humans — both the children and ourselves!elsnow6Participant
I know I’ve heard of the evaluations before but can’t recall much because I’m still trying to get down a homeschooling plan that works for us so didn’t look closely at evaluations. Are there “pre-made” evaluations or just create your own based on what you’ve worked on? Are there any helps for this?
Thanks so much everyone. This did help a lot. Your answers and comments were in line with the way I’d been doing things here. I usually don’t find anything at all during end of year evaluations that surprises me. I think that was what troubled me after talking with the CM friend OP.
I have had my children (now that they’re a little older) sort of question the validity or necessity of such evaluations. Although they don’t mind doing them. And they’re not disrespectful, just curious.Alicia HartParticipant
This thread is so timely. We just did exams today for Bible and I had the same questions! Love this forum – what a blessing!
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