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Do you allow math notes on tests?


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I'm just curious about how others deal with math, especially if your student is challenged with issues such as dyslexia or ADD.

 

I remember having math classes that I struggled with so much! I did fine on my homework but bombed tests. Some teachers made us memorize everything, some let us write any notes we wanted on one piece of paper, and still others let us use our open books. The reasoning of those who let us use notes was that "in the real world, you aren't expected memorize formulas, but you are expected to know how to use formulas."

 

I'm seeing my girls deal with the same frustrations in math, especially with on-line math courses. I hate teaching math!

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As opposed to using notes or an open book, I vote for the single index card that students prepare for the test. They have to decide what is important, what to include or exclude in the limitations of space.

 

I have found that the process of streamlining information to the essential is helpful.

 

In my post secondary teaching experience, dyslexic students or those with other LDs had the option of accommodation which could include extra time on the test or the option of taking it in a quiet cubicle somewhere as opposed to the classroom. An LD student will not have the option of using notes if the other students do not receive the same opportunity. The key here is to help your students succeed but not at the cost of a crutch which may lead to problems later on.

 

I think you can also consider the material that is covered on a particular test. If you feel that your students will succeed on a particular geometry test only with notes, then use them. But that does not mean notes are needed on every exam.

 

Regards,

Jane

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I tell my students (I teach Geometry and Physics at our co-op) that I'm not there to get them to memorize, but to get them to think and apply. Even the SAT provides formulas on the math test.

 

I generally supply a sheet with the equations and data that they'll need. I saw that our co-op Chemistry teacher gave her students an outline sheet for them to fill in and bring with them to the final exam. She allowed as much writing on the one sheet as they wanted to squeeze in.

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Well, *I* don't give them ANYTHING. I am so surprised that state tests, the CC/Univ professors' tests, etc have a formulas page.

 

If I really thought my kid had an unfair disadvantage from home, then I would possibly create a formula page since they're gonna have them for other testing anyway.

 

But generally? I think "suck it up."

 

(btw, both kids are dx'd with ADHD and have started meds this year. My ds also has an alphabet soup of other dxes. So it's not that I just don't understand LDs and such.)

 

ETA: I think a drawback to many math curricula is that they drill and kill rather than encourage kids to get to know the math in a way to be able to think it through. If you memorize the basic formula (and really, how hard IS that? They can learn whole collections of music but not the quadratic formula?), and you know how math works, no notes are really needed. It's when it's all just stuffed in a head with no real understanding that problems occur, I would think.

Edited by 2J5M9K
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My oldest has learning differences. I have her take the test first--completing what she can--and then she can use her notes (and occasionally the text)--but after I've evaluated (not graded) what she COULD do on her own.

 

Depending on the chapter (especially those with lots of formulas) I will do the 'one index card' thing... most of the time the excercise of writing the info on the card helps cement the formulas--so the card is RARELY used after it is made!

 

I do allow charts for 'roots' --because I also allow calculators in those chapters and the chart helps speed things along--and is it also something my students can make QUICKLY if they ever need one on a standardized test.

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Depending on the chapter (especially those with lots of formulas) I will do the 'one index card' thing... most of the time the excercise of writing the info on the card helps cement the formulas--so the card is RARELY used after it is made!

 

 

 

Precisely. This method teaches students a valuable test taking strategy. I suggest they make the index card in courses like trig, calculus, physics--even if they are not permitted to use it during the exam.

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most of the time the excercise of writing the info on the card helps cement the formulas--so the card is RARELY used after it is made!

I do have DS make a card as part of his studying -- I agree that the exercise of writing the information helps, and using the card while he's studying for the test helps too. But for the test itself he doesn't get to use it. If he's having trouble remembering a formula, we'll work on the memorizing.

 

He just took a Statistics unit test with three or four new-ish formulas on it, and for three days before the test anytime we were in the car together I'd ask him to recall a formula and then explain it -- why is "n" part of that formula? (because the size of the sample affects the variability and a large sample is less likely to give you an extreme result), why are both "p" and "1-p" part of the formula? When do you use it? When do you use something else? And how does it relate to that something else you might use in a different situation? And we work through the whole list this way.

 

The memorizing and the understanding go hand in hand, and I think if he had the card to rely on for the test he'd be more likely to skip the understanding part of it.

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He just took a Statistics unit test with three or four new-ish formulas on it, and for three days before the test anytime we were in the car together I'd ask him to recall a formula and then explain it -- why is "n" part of that formula? (because the size of the sample affects the variability and a large sample is less likely to give you an extreme result), why are both "p" and "1-p" part of the formula? When do you use it? When do you use something else? And how does it relate to that something else you might use in a different situation? And we work through the whole list this way.

 

 

 

 

Here is my disadvantage...I can't have that type of conversation. :P For instance, i can look at the midpoint formula she's studying and remember it now, 20-some odd years later, but I don't know why it is....it just is, lol!

 

Now, I can understand the set-up of Algebra, but Geometry and Calculus are just mysterious devious of torture to endure! :lol:

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Precisely. This method teaches students a valuable test taking strategy. I suggest they make the index card in courses like trig, calculus, physics--even if they are not permitted to use it during the exam.

 

 

 

In all my math and science courses at college, we used one 3x5 index card or the instructor supplied a formula sheet. I took college algebra through calculus 2, phsyics (general and engineering), chemistry, and various electronic courses. I attended three different schools in my years of college education so it wasn't just one school or a professor or two.

 

When using the index cards it got hysterically funny how some students would try to write so tiny to get as much info on the card as they could. I never could figure out how they could read their cards let alone find the information useful.

 

With my twins I will let them use an index card to write formulas on but they will need to know how to stream line to only what they need.

 

Anita

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I do have DS make a card as part of his studying --

He just took a Statistics unit test with three or four new-ish formulas on it, and for three days before the test anytime we were in the car together I'd ask him to recall a formula and then explain it -- why is "n" part of that formula? (because the size of the sample affects the variability and a large sample is less likely to give you an extreme result), why are both "p" and "1-p" part of the formula? When do you use it? When do you use something else? And how does it relate to that something else you might use in a different situation? And we work through the whole list this way.

 

The memorizing and the understanding go hand in hand, and I think if he had the card to rely on for the test he'd be more likely to skip the understanding part of it.

 

 

LOL, I can imagine this conversation with my Ds..... it isn't pretty-LOL. He would go on and on for 30 minutes about the "why" of something in math and science. And then by the time he is done... I will be so totally confused and all that I learned in college would be mush. I am better off in letting him figure it out on his own and let him memorize-LOL. Keep these conversations to a minimum unless I can find him someone with a computer brain to converse with him....

 

Anita

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The things I learn here! I hadn't heard of doing this. But then, I grew up in the dark ages, before PC's, calculators, etc. Calculators came out, but they were so expensive, and, in high school, they were not allowed. We must have had logarithm tables on tests, though; I just don't remember the tests.

 

Of course, my dd doesn't take math tests yet. She has to do that in high school, though. She has done easy ones like the CAT 5 a couple of times, and takes them in Latin.

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Guest Sindaena

I recently (as in last semester - Fall 08) took Linear Algebra at a state college and Differential Equations at a CC. Neither allowed formula sheets or calculators. We were told that if we had problems with arithmetic we shouldn't be in those classes in the first place and that if we really learned the material we'd be able to derive any formulas we couldn't remember on the spot. That is to say - we weren't told to memorize formulas, rather it was implied that doing so was a short cut to really learning the math. I didn;t notice anyone who had a particularly hard time with those rules, but then anyone who did had likely washed out of the science/engineering/pure math sequence before those classes.

 

As far as I can tell, the engineering cert exam is still calculator and cheat sheet free and that is why engineering schools still use that method. My kids are not given cheat sheets or calculators for math. The arithmetic should be trivial and they should be able to derive formulas they can't remember...

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And if my kiddos were engineer school bound I would whole-heartedly agree with you! :001_smile:

 

One is headed toward the performing arts and the other is likely to end up in graphic design or editing of sorts.

 

 

Good point, as is Sindaena's post. When I read this before, I wondered why people needed formula sheets when you can just figure them out, but I was a mathy teen. However, not everyone is like that, including some of my extended family. There were steps we needed to remember way back when before calculators, when we used logarthim tables, of course.

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This discussion reminds me of my business statistics course in college. The same professor taught the same course to math majors, but he thought business majors were not as smart, so he allowed us to use the book for tests. The math majors weren't so lucky! This same professor returned our tests in grade order with comments: "Very Good", "Needs work", "Study more", etc. Everyone knew how well or how bad you had done!

 

I allow my dd to use her notes, if needed, for Geometry.

 

Yvonne in NE

Edited by yinne
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