Friday, December 14, 2012

A Record Week

To say that Turkish students take a lot of exams would be an understatement. They take exams to test the previous exam questions which may have been about topics that had just been introduced on the exam.  And, someone's got to write these exams which takes a lot of time. Now, I've never been a really quick exam writer. As a matter of fact, I'm so aware of the impact of bad questions on the outcome of test results, that I agonize over test questions and the relevance of what I'm actually testing. I also figure if a student is going to spend a lot of time taking tests, maybe the least I can do is find relevant and current reading and listening topics so perhaps they will glean something from the actual test itself. I can spend several hours just trying to find "good" reading samples and write "good" questions. And, that's only one part of the test. But this week, I had to throw away my idealism and desire to write an interesting test...a good test...a relevant test..a test on material we had actually taught...and just produce..So produce I did.

I am proud to say that I have written eight exams since Wednesday. (I have to keep changing the vocabulary because I used the word "test" in America,  but the students here only understand the word "exam".) Eights exams...Think about that. Five of the exams are three-hour long exams  and one is a one-hour exam. There are 18 students in each class and there are 5 classes. Therefore,  I will keep 90 students busy for 4 hours each this week.  That's 360 hour of testing. In addition, since the exams have to be proctored, I will give 15 teachers an extra prep period (or two)  where they are not responsible for plans or work. 

With the sheer quantity of tests I had to write,  I had to forgo my idealism and quit looking for current topics online. I took my supervisor's advice and just copied reading passages from old textbooks. ("Why create anything new? It's not possible," she urged.) However, I still have my standards. I drew the line at any articles that used the word "gay" as in "merry" or  "happy". And, I did a quick skim for dates and numbers that would be so "dated" as to be almost ludicrous. For example, to say that the population is going to reach 270 million by 1982 is just too close to the actual "Weekly Reader" numbers I had to memorize as a kid so it might be confusing.

All in all, it's been a productive week..I've met my deadline  thanks to two classes being off campus yesterday giving me an extra 4 hours of planning time. Plus, now I've got lesson plans for the beginning of next week... teaching some of the things that we actually put on the exam....

Time for beer and pizza...

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