Today is day 1 of final exams.
Students took the multiple choice portion of an AP practice exam. I left the rotation and circular motion questions in, even though we haven’t touched those topics yet, since students have a 1 in 4 chance of getting them right and it will give me some information on their existing ideas. I made sure to communicate this to students in advance, including that I will adjust my grading accordingly, which helped students approach those questions calmly.
About half of the period was spent on an individual exam that was pretty traditional and the other half was a lab practical that students completed in small groups. Due to limits on equipment and space, about half the class was doing each portion at a time, which made for a noisy testing environment than usual. If we take this approach again, I might see if another teacher could accommodate my students working on the individual portion. I also think the individual and lab practical portions of the final represent two very different purposes; I think that is a reflection of my counterpart and I both being stretched a little thin this year and not having many opportunities to talk about why we’re doing things a certain way.
Students took a pretty traditional final exam. No matter how long I make the test, it consistently takes students about an hour to finish; I think a lot of students simply reach a point where they can’t focus anymore, especially since this tends to be their last final (honestly, I usually have trouble concentrating by this point during finals). I decided to plan for an hour-long final and used the first 30 min of the block to whiteboard portions of the final review. I think that helped some students build confidence and it felt like a relief for many of them to have some collaborative time.