Open-Notebook Tests

Discussion in 'General Education' started by JennM, Jun 13, 2009.

  1. JennM

    JennM Rookie

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    Jun 13, 2009

    Any feelings on open-notebook tests and when to allow them? I have the option of letting my students in Sept. use their notes for their summer reading quiz. Do you believe that I should have higher expectations for their answers if I do assign open-book tests, or does that go without saying? Perhaps I am just overanalyzing this...:unsure:
     
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  3. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Jun 13, 2009

    I would think if its over the summer reading, then it is fine. Do we really think all of our students are going to read this summer? And the ones that actually read the list, are they really going to remember what they read? Probably not, not with basball games, vacations, weeks at relatives' houses, etc. I would think your expectations would be higher since the answers are right there; however, if note-taking is left up to students, some might take better notes than others.
     
  4. JennM

    JennM Rookie

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    Jun 14, 2009

    Hmmm...those are all good points smalltowngal. Wouldn't our jobs be easier if students always had that amount of time to read books? Thanks for the input!!
     
  5. Bostongal965

    Bostongal965 New Member

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    Jun 14, 2009

    Suggestion for summer reading

    At my middle school and high school, the students are allowed to make and have one 4 x 6 note card to use for the test on their summer reading. You'd be amazed at how much info the tiny writers can cram on there! They are usually given the test the second week of school and teachers can suggest what key info to put on the cards (main characters, key plots points, etc).
     
  6. runnerss

    runnerss Comrade

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    Jun 14, 2009

    I agree, I think for the summer reading it is fine. For anything else, I personally wouldn't do it.
     
  7. Ceyber

    Ceyber Rookie

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    Jun 14, 2009

    Open Notebook tests are great in general - it means you can ask more challenging questions without having to worry about them not having the information.

    A question such as: "The author was attempting to create suspense in chapter 3. Explain, using characters as examples, if they were successful or not." Without the book, and their notes, students couldn't properly answer the more in depth question. The same could be said for history/socials:

    "The culture in the middle ages was one of conflict and war. Using examples from your notes, defend or refute this statement". If this was a normal test, the students would be home memorizing when the middle ages were, what the parts of a castle are, and the names and dates of big battles. This allows them to get at the content, instead of the facts that far too many memorize.

    Math is an obvious example: We give them the formulas, and a calculator, and they have to solve the problems :)
     
  8. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    Jun 14, 2009

    I agree. There are some things that students should know. There are other things that students should know how to find out.
     
  9. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Jun 14, 2009

    This is how it was at my HS.
     
  10. Teacher Chele

    Teacher Chele Habitué

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    Jun 14, 2009

    I love the idea of open notebook tests. It teaches them to take notes well and to study them (well....maybe).
     
  11. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

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    Jun 14, 2009

    I like the idea of open notebook tests for the same reasons as mentioned above, but it irks me that they're so often used ineffectively. If the goal of a test is information recall, then open notes defeat the purpose. An open notes test should have more thought provoking questions rather than just a search for information.
     
  12. holliday

    holliday Comrade

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    Jun 14, 2009

    Something I've done as a spin on open notebook tests is to have the test be closed notes, then at the end, allow X number of minutes for kids to open their notes and use them. That way, they can't soley rely on the notes (and get away with not reading or studying beforehand) but they can look up info on one or two questions that they just couldn't quite remember. It gives them lots of incentives to keep good notes but doesn't allow them to say, copy a neighbor's notes and breeze through that way.
     
  13. wig

    wig Devotee

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    Jun 15, 2009

    I have done various things. I let them use their notebooks on quizzes when I suspect that there are too many not keeping up with their notebooks. For SS tests I have a die. 1 is Open Book, 3 is open notes, and 2, 4, 5, 6 is Open Brain. The kids love it. I throw the die (or allow a student) right before the test. One class this year NEVER got a 1 or a 3. Two of the classes got one or the other. The last class actually got both 1 and 3, but only once.

    I have also done what holliday has done and gave them the last ten minutes to use their notebooks,

    I have on occasion given them a 3 x 5 card and told them they could put all the info they wanted on that card and use it on the test. By the time they put all the info down, they really did not need the card any more.
     
  14. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    In English, I always let the kids use their novels. I give mostly essay or short answer tests and I want the kids to go back and use specific text as evidence. I never ask a question that a kid could find in the book - they would have to process the story, think about an answer, and then find evidence from the text. If they hadn't read the book, they wouldn't be able to find the evidence in the first place and then wouldn't know what text to look for in the first place.

    When I was in high school, my physics teacher let us have a formula card. We could only write the formulas on it, but it was very handy.
     
  15. JennM

    JennM Rookie

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    Jun 16, 2009

    Holliday, I love the idea of the open notes test at the end of the period. I've never actually heard of that before, but it makes so much sense! I will definitely consider that for one of my tests this year. Wig, I agree with you that giving a card to students for the test helps them to remember the information, because they are writing it down, not because they are reading off it. Thanks for the great ideas!
     
  16. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Jun 25, 2009

    I'm not for open book tests. Especially in High School they are big no-no. Alot of my freshman have huge issues on essay questions on their tests becuase they aren't use to having to recall information on their own. Keep in mind I only teach Honors and AP. However, when I taught CP, I allowed them to use a notecard on their tests.

    By telling students that they will be able to use their notebooks on tests and quizzes ahead of time, and then giving them simple objective questions, doesn't promote learning, just simple transfering of material from the notebook to the test. My only exception to this is summer reading. My AP Euro kids have to read the first two chapter's of Manchester's A World Lit Only By Fire and take notes on the two chapters based on an essay question I gave them. They will complete the essay during the first two weeks of school in September and will be allowed to use their own handwritten notes on the assignment.
     
  17. glazellt

    glazellt New Member

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    Jun 26, 2009

    I like the idea of open notebook tests or allowing at least a page of notes on an exam because it can reduce test anxiety and like everyone else is saying you you can ask more challenging questions without having to worry about them not having the information. However, I have found that I still had to teach my students how to take notes and suggest what to put down in their notebooks during my lesson and during a review so that they would understand what kind of information is important to jot down.
     
  18. hernandoreading

    hernandoreading Comrade

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    Jun 26, 2009

    For summer reading, I would allow it.
    As for other times: I do allow my students to use notes on tests from time to time. I do so to help my students learn how to take effective ntoes. I start them off at the beginning of the year with note taking guide sheets for particular readings or videos that we watch, then quiz them on the information using these sheets. By the end of the year, they are taking notes totally on their own, and the effectiveness of their note-taking can be judges on how well they do on the occasional open-note quiz. I make sure they learn to pull out the important facts such as names, dates, places, important cause & effect, etc. I have had students come back and tell me that their high school classmates ask to borrow their notes because they get all the "good stuff" in them. Just a different perspective.
     
  19. holliday

    holliday Comrade

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    Jun 26, 2009

    That's usually what I do open-note tests for, too. My kids keep a 5 subject notebook and basically build their own resource book. I quiz them instead of collecting all their notebooks - it's much easier and faster to grade but still lets me know who's keeping up with the notebook.
     
  20. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    I've had problems with notebook quizzes. My unorganized students would just copy the notes and homework from their peers. It didn't work. Grading their notebooks ensures that they complete the work on their own. With notebook quizzes kids would often times just photocopy others work.
     
  21. holliday

    holliday Comrade

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    Jun 27, 2009

    Mine are always unannounced. That helps! Plus, I teach 7th grade so my kiddos don't even think about photocopying - they can barely remember their own locker combinations, much less plot that far ahead for small quizzes! LoL
    I can imagine that it might be different in high school, though.
     
  22. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I think it all boils down to what you want to test.

    If you want to see whether the kids actually read the books, then I wouldn't do it. They can get a synposis from a friend or online, and they would be able to answer most of the basic plot questions.

    Also, if they haven't already been warned that it's open book, many kids won't take the right type of notes as they actually read. You may find that the kids who do better are those who downloaded the info.

    I've used Open Notebook tests on occasion. Sometimes, particularly with my slower kids, the process of a particular type of problem is tricky. They can get through the problems, but have trouble remembering the full sequence of directions. And there have been times when my kids have been overwhelmed in their other classes. Instead of cancelling a test, I've made it open notebook at the last minute. They still have to prove that they can follow the necessary steps, but it saves them the stress of studyng for yet another test. They can always be fairly sure that they'll see some of the same material on another test, without the safety net of a notebook.
     
  23. wig

    wig Devotee

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    LOL! You are so right about that. Not sure I would do it with High school students either. But I think Middle School students need to learn the value of taking and using notes. Mine never know when or if they are going to have them.
     
  24. Soccer Dad

    Soccer Dad Cohort

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    Jun 28, 2009

    Why not do both? Have an objective portion (multiple choice) that tests for plot, themes, motives, characters, vocabulary, etc. Then have a part in which they must write critcally. Here, they can use their notes to answer the questions--but only as a source to add additional evidence to support their answers.

    Sometimes I allow the use of notes but at a penalty. I might say, "You're allowed to use Thursday's notes, but you'll lose 10 points." They can only do this twice per quarter, however.
     
  25. holliday

    holliday Comrade

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    Jun 28, 2009

    Yeah, variety is the name of the game. I probably allow open notes maybe 4 or 5 times a year. Those quizzes are mostly to assess how well they're keeping up with the notebooks (as I said). I think these kinds of quizzes have a place, but just like anything else, they can be misused or overused.
     

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