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February 02, 2014

test me on what I know...

Towards the end of the term there are examinations in the school and I have been making use of these fully as exercises where children repeatedly work on perfecting their skills (sometimes 'repeating' the exams many times). I have a fair bit of emphasis on application of ideas and word questions vs 'sums' where you are told exactly what calculation needs to be done.

Sha is in 7th grade.and really struggled in the first term. Even in basic calculations he had a lot of gaps. It took me time to unearth these gaps and get down to what his assumptions were that needed to be broken e.g. one day I realized that he is unable to subtract numbers from 100. He knew what is called carry subtraction, but it turned out that he had mostly encountered only up to one digit of carry and 100-95 was pretty confusing for him. He also had difficulty multiplying numbers with 10,100, etc. He would call these fixes 'my method', but over time he has stopped calling it my method and is instead able to use them as his own.

He has some learning difficulties and is quite weak at interpreting English and is unable to get his hands around word problems and is hence unable to solve them. I usually give the kids the paper a week before to take a look at it. This term he insisted that he has mastered all aspects of fractions, decimals their conversations and is able to interpret questions in terms of pizza and even had a feel for it, in terms of pizza slices, but simply could not solve word problems. He felt that he had improved significantly from the first term and wanted to be tested on this improvement.

In the first term the only way Sha could 'solve' something was if each question was preceded with an example. Even through he wrote the 'examination' four times he had attempted the same question again and again without moving to the next one. I wanted to see if there really any change as he seems to indicate though I mentioned that I expect him to be able to figure out what to do and not only do computation at his level. I suggested that I would give him such an examination, but I would need to scale down the result to be fair to his other classmates.He was fine with it.

There was really a marked improvement in what he was able to do (for those who need a score, he got 78/100). He was even occasionally able to find sanity checks in what he did. There were also marked differences in his sheets where he was working confidently and when he felt a little thrown off.

Its remarkable when children start to learn about themselves and understand their strengths without overestimating it...

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