we're currently in the middle of giving a spelling assessment to our first grade classes to see where they stand on their knowledge of the 100 high frequency words first graders should know by the end of the year. this is typically a fairly painful. we quiz the students on 25 words a day, which doesn't sound bad, but since they are only expected to know half of the words we're asking them to spell words they haven't learned yet.
this doesn't phase some children, like the little one on my case load who wanted to high five after each and every word even when she just wrote the letter 'b' for the word because. but no matter how many times we explain they are not suppose to know all these words there are always some children who become overwhelmed by the idea of getting some of them wrong.
i sat beside one of my kiddos to help her track the test or to scribe for her since sometimes her handwriting gets in the way of us realizing she knows how to spell a word. as i helped her track i noticed the boy beside her starting at her paper and then frantically scribbling on his own paper.
seriously? he sits between her and the smartest girl in the class. if he is going to choose to copy one of them and he chooses my friend, well... that tell us more about him than the results of the spelling test will. i let him keep going for a few words and then gave him the evil eye.
at the end his paper matched hers for the most part. although he probably could spell the words like he, mother, make, my and here, he had instead decided that my little one, who was writing with crazy confidence clearly knew the words better than he did. so like her, he wrote m4 for my. except that i know her 4s equal ys, for him, it just looks like m4.
perhaps it's not the cheating that bothers me as much as the fact he didn't check to see if his friend's answers could possibly be correct or not. he had a chance to make this a multiple choice test with only two answers. for the word make- is it spelled make or km? now, he knows the word make starts with /m/, so one would think he could choose the right answer. apparently not.
at least we have 2 more years to teach him test taking strategies before he takes state standardized testing.