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I feel like a failure, UGH!!!!

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Welcome to the boards, as I see this is your third post!

I think that is a whole lot of emotion over one test for a seventh grader.  

If you've enrolled him in an online class, you've given up the control reins on content in the test....so honestly, I think your venting is kind of out of line.

If your post is really about how to teach him how to take notes....I'd point him to the Cornell system. Teach him how to outline the book, and then teach him how to do lecture notes.  It sounds like the teacher based a lot of the content from the first test from the lectures...and it sounds like he remembered them.

Studying is really individual. It's not something you can impose on someone. Help him find a system that works for his brain, and support that...but don't take over.

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I don’t think you are a helicopter mom.

I also don’t think you have a reasonable basis to assert that teachers ought to test students in the way you imagine to be fair.

Testing students primarily on a vocabulary list (and other flash-card style responses)  would be really undercutting to actual educational processes. Expecting even-coverage page-by page testing “on the chapters” suggests that the textbook manufacturer is more important to you than the teacher’s learning objectives. Suggesting 40+ questions for an exam is pointless.

If a science teacher is concerned about vocabulary, they teach it (and sometimes quiz it) long before the end of a unit. The vocabulary is essential for student understanding on an ongoing basis. They are expected to know it because they are competent learners — and they need it for the learning process. Vocabulary is not an end in itself.

If your son struggles with vocabulary, I suggest that you work on that skill during his learning, not as a form of studying for testing.

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Not knowing the format of the class or the test, it's hard to know.  A large number of questions seem to be over a small number of pages, but how does that fit with the lecture and homework?  Some classes closely follow the book, while in other classes (like the one that I teach) the book is intended to be a reference.  In my class, the tests come from the homework, so if 3 homework questions focus on various aspects of a topic, that topic is likely to show up on quizzes and the test - even if the book only references it in 2 paragraphs, if I ask that many questions it means that I've talked about the topic in depth, or added more information, or sometimes it's just something that I want them to focus on because I know that it's really important later in the semester.  End of chapter questions aren't always the best guide for what the teacher wants for students to focus on.

20 questions is also not an unusual number - thinking back to classes from middle school through college, that seems reasonable.  If it's multiple choice, I always prefer a few more, but if it gets long, students complain about the length.  I know that one of my college classes had 100 multiple choice questions per test, and it took 90 exhausting minutes to get through it.  My tests have open-ended questions, usually around 20, and while most students take around an hour I always get some complaints about how long it is.  

I guess that summarizes to...the test might have been written in a way that doesn't reflect the material presented thus far, but the bigger issue seems to be note-taking.  If your son recognized several questions as things that were talked about in class, they are things that should have been in his notes, and then included in the flash cards that you made.  Even lab material is fair game for test questions, despite the fact that it's frequently not in the book.  My policy is that there will never be a test question over material that hasn't been addressed in an assignment somewhere (homework, lab report, etc), but I don't think that most of my teachers had that policy.  


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I agree with everyone else here. Learning to take notes is fine and a worthy skill. However, if you are not doing it in a low stress, interest-based way he not only will never take ownership but he will learn to really dislike learning and studying. It will kill the potential for joy in learning. I recommend taking a deep breath, finding out what science topics interest him and letting him pursue those. Design some learning objectives around the topic and let him have say in it. What you described would have killed my desire to do science and I am a scientist. 

I am going to say this with alot of homeschool mom love and comraderie...you need to back off now and stop owning his stuff. Seriously. What you describe is really over the top. Part of the reason he probably won't step up and do it is the "no sense in both of us worrying about it" syndrome that happens when a child has had a helicopter mom their whole life. He needs to learn what his interests are and SLOWLY work toward independence with gentle scaffolding and coaching...not owning. There is nothing wrong with loving and helping. You just need to find a balance there. I thoroughly recommend reading "Yes, My Teenager is Crazy." It is a really fun but incredibly insightful parenting book that lays out a great trajectory for handling this. If you are Christian then I also recommend "Boundaries with Kids" or "Boundaries with Teens" which I consider the absolute best. 

I do encourage you to not begin blaming the class. I promise you your son will happily latch onto that and externally blame all future classes and teachers. I also would shrug, laugh with him and say "well, I guess we couldn't have predicted that huh? At least now we kind of get how the tests will be so YOU can start taking some notes or recording lectures for study." Then let it go. Neither of you will remember the test 10 years from now. If you fixate on it he will definitely remember the test as a turning point for when he became anxious about exams and learned to dislike taking them. Avoid that trap. 

Yes, it is completely normal for some classes to test more on lecture and use the reading as supplemental. It happened all of the time to me in college science classes. Part of taking tests is learning professor testing style. 

Edited by nixpix5
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This (and you!) didn't fail in any means. You helped him study, and he probably learned at least two things:

1) an approach how to study (flashcards)

2) a lot of information about the specific topic

So, homeschooling win! The test grade is an aside. As your son (and you) see how this class works you can tailor the studying approach to this specific class/teacher, but that doesn't mean that this attempt was a failure at all. The objective to Learn was achieved! 

(re: heliocopter mom with studying, perhaps try assigning he make his own study materials for the different subjects he's studying -- flashcards, Cornell method, whatever -- and turn in the materials as part of your homeschool. That way there is accountability and he is learning how to build a study regimen and find what materials work for him, but you aren't actively taking over the whole project and can guide him at set intervals (when he turns it in). )

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