bunky
bunky asks:
Q:

My daughter failed her test even with lots of preparation.  Any suggestions?

My child is in third grade this year and the first test was a failure BIG time.  I don't understand, at home there is not a problem, she could spit out the answers and knew the information, but I was sent home a note with the test results and it was awful.  My child and I studied everynight for this test for a 1 1/2 weeks and she had the information down-so I thought.  What can we or I do to help her with this subject?  My child does have a disability(spina bifida) but you would not know it to look at her- she is not mentally delayed or anything-however she is very self concious about it and the fact that she is a lot taller and bigger than others in her class.    Any suggestions about classroom behavior or any suggestions would be helpful, thanks.
In Topics: Tests (preparing, taking, anxiety!)
> 60 days ago

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lkauffman
lkauffman writes:
Dear Bunky,

Has your daughter always had difficulties with test anxiety, or is this a new development? If she has always had difficulties showing what she knows on exams, she may be exhibiting certain learning differences that prohibit her from succeeding on exams. For instance, she may have slow processing speed, and with proper assessment, she may benefit from accommodations, such as extra time on tests.

If the test anxiety is a new development, I would want to talk with her to better understand her experience on the exams. When did she notice a change? What is she thinking during the exams? Basically, what is her experience?

To help combat your daughter's anxiety, help her to identify the thoughts as they come that are tearing down her self-confidence. Explain to her that we experience many thoughts throughout the day that greatly affect the way we feel; thoughts and emotions are very closely related. As an example, while taking a test, a student may have difficulty with the first two problems and think, "These are hard! I didn't study well enough. I'm going to fail this test and my parents will be soooo mad!" Naturally, this kind of thinking generates a spike in anxiety and affects a student's ability to think critically and generate an answer.

Once she has identified these thoughts, teach her to test the reality behind these beliefs. Is it likely that she will fail the test given how long she studied? She did really well during the study review the night before. And, besides, if she failed, you, her parents, would certainly understand.

Ok, so she has identified these thoughts as false, so now what? Teach her to generate a "counterargument." In this case, she might say to herself, "I studied as much as I could, and I am well prepared. I think I will do just fine on this exam." If necessary, you and she might go over some counterarguments the night before and write them down on a note card. Discuss this with her teacher beforehand in order to allow your daughter to keep her note card on her desk to remind herself that she IS prepared.

Finally, remind your daughter to get a good night's rest the evening before, eat a healthy breakfast, and practice some relaxation exercises before the exam. She might get to her desk a few minutes before the exam, take five deep breaths and repeat in her head, "I am prepared. I can do this!" over and over again.

Good luck.

L. Compian, Ph.D.
Counseling Psychologist
Education.com Expert Panel

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maaroufmohamad
maaroufmoha... writes:
One question I have to ask is - are you sure it's test anxiety? Honestly, it could be the teacher's fault (and I say this as a teacher). How well were the questions on the test aligned with what your daughter was asked to study? For example, in algebra, students may be asked to solve for x with equations such as 3x + 2 = 5 and then on the test they are presented with something like 3x + 4 = 2x - 1. Although, it's the same concept, a student needs to be taught explicitly how to solve that second problem, and the teacher needs to introduce this material, guide the student in solving it, and allow the student to take responsibility by solving similar problems him/herself (with guidance as necessary). It sounds like your daughter prepared well for the test: she studied well in advance, practiced a lot of problems, and dispersed her studying over several nights. However, I must also ask you, when she was answering the questions at home, how much were you guiding her? Did you really allow her to solve the problems on her own? Ask yourself these questions and reflect on the interactions you had with your daughter as the two of you were studying.

After saying all this, I must admit that I am new to the profession of teaching, but with the training I have received and the experience I have, these are a few of the things that I have learned. I hope it helps.
> 60 days ago

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maaroufmohamad
maaroufmoha... writes:
I also want to mention that I am now disagreeing with the post above mine - just adding another possible explanation.
> 60 days ago

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ExperiencedMom
Experienced... writes:
I am more concerned about your level of involvement than with the failing of one test. Your child needs to own the results of her tests. That's not going to happen when it seems that you are more invested in the results than she is. And its not all about the information in the test. As much as you love your child, and you clearly do, you do her no favors by not allowing her to develop her own methods of study and coping skills for test taking. School is as much about learning how to learn as the knowledge gained. If you must, hire a tutor, but your involvement, unless she asks you, is to make sure there is an appropriate environment for study, enough time to study and a quick once over to make sure assignments are completed. This may not be a politically correct view, and some teachers love to pass over their responsibilities to parents, but as a parent who raised 4 children to adulthood, I assure you your child will have more success ultimately in school if you step back rather than forward. Good luck.
> 60 days ago

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NlhubAko_S0918
NlhubAko_S0... writes:
maybe she needs tutoring?
> 60 days ago

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N.Medilton
N.Medilton writes:
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> 60 days ago

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marcin78
marcin78 writes:
It’s hard to locate well informed individuals on this topic, but you sound like you comprehend what you’re talking about! Thanks

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AlbertBarkley
AlbertBarkley writes:
Broadly speaking, students misbehave for one of four reasons:

They are bored.

They are stuck.

They have additional and different needs.

They are naughty.

When students are bored, they might entertain themselves by being naughty. They might talk, throw paper darts, they might stick pencils up their nostrils and sing hallelujah. They are either trying to alleviate their boredom or trying to make you aware that they’re bored and need more challenge, or indeed both.

When they are stuck, they might send up metaphorical smoke signals by being naughty in order to draw your attention to their difficulty. Alternatively, they might try to mask the fact they’re stuck by being naughty. Either way it’s a cry for help.

Whether they’re bored or stuck, the cure for their ill behaviour is better differentiation, because clearly the work isn’t appropriately pitched. If they are bored, the work is too easy. If they are stuck, the work is too hard.

What you want is to pitch the work in what Vygotsky calls “the zone of proximal development” or what I call the Goldilocks Bowl: neither too hot nor too cold, but just right. Work needs to be difficult enough to provide challenge, but not too difficult so as to be unachievable. The secret to differentiation – and indeed to outstanding teaching generally – is to know your students. And you get to know your students by talking to them and by assessing their work regularly.

Assessment is a form of planning because it provides you with valuable information about where each of your students is now and about what they need to do next in order to fill the gaps in their learning and make progress. So the first tip is to ask yourself whether or not the work you have set is appropriate and challenging. If it is, and you’re confident your students are neither bored nor stuck, then your students must be misbehaving for another reason.

Top 10 behaviour Improvement strategies

As the teacher, and the adult, you are “in charge”. It is your classroom and you must actively and consciously make the rules and decisions, rather than letting them happen out of habit, poor organisation or at the whim of students. Demonstrate your authority by the position you take in the room; keep on your feet as much as possible and be where you can watch everything that is going on. Students should believe that you have eyes in the back of your head.

Students need to know what is expected of them in your classroom. Establish a set of rules which make desired behaviours explicit and display them prominently in the room, referring to them as often as possible so that they don’t disappear. The rules should tell the students what to do, rather than what not to do.

Reward the right behaviours more than you sanction the wrong ones. Give students rewards for displaying desirable behaviours. The goal is to establish the habit of co-operation. Standards can be subtly raised once the habit has been established. Praise is the most powerful reward. By rewarding good behaviour you are giving oxygen to the students who deserve it most and you are providing naughty students with a role-model to follow.

Get a student’s full attention before giving instructions. Make sure everyone is looking at you and not playing with a pen, turning around, chatting. Be very clear in all your instructions and expectations. Have a student repeat them back to you.

Tactical ignorance is sometimes good but be aware that low-level misbehaviours can escalate if they are not dealt with quickly and consistently. A student’s behaviour is reinforced when s/he gets attention for it, but don’t be tempted simply to ignore it. Find a calm and quiet way to let the student know that you see exactly what s/he is doing and that there is a consequence, without making a fuss, getting upset or sounding annoyed. Use eye contact or a question.

Avoid confrontational situations where you or the student has to publicly back down. Talk to the student in terms of her/his choices and the consequences of those choices, and then give sufficient “take-up” time.

Never attempt to start teaching a lesson until the students are ready. It is a waste of everyone’s energy, giving the impression it’s the teacher’s job to force pupils to work and their job to resist and delay.

Do not teach up to the last minute and rush because the next class is waiting. Allow time to answer questions, review that day’s learning, outline plans for the next lesson, and put equipment away. Try to end the lesson on a positive note.

Use positive language. For example, instead of “will you stop talking”, say “I’d like everyone listening”; instead of “stop turning around”, say “I’d like everyone facing this way please”. Say please and thank you as often as possible. Use choice direction such as “either/or” – “You can either work quietly by yourself or you can come up and sit with me” – or “when/then” – “When you have finished tidying up your desk, then you can sit wherever you want.” Make a deliberate pause to gain students’ attentions and a direction to ensure they have sufficient time to act: “John ... could you face this way ... and listen, thank you.”

Use positive body language. Gain their attention with eye contact before you say what you want to say. Allow “take-up time” – ask someone to come to you then turn away, talk to someone else, the student will come to you in their own time. Alternatively, in a corridor, ask someone to come over to you for a second then walk to somewhere more private away from the audience.

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