Why is student self assessment important?

You have been studying and taking formal assessment at school, but at times you feel unsure.

Have I really understood concepts?

Well, it happens. A conscientious student who likes to be sure of all that is done, finds feeling unsure difficult to bear. Sometimes concepts get confusing. For instance, when learning about gravity, we get the idea about why things fall. We understand why a feather floats before reaching the ground. Then the class joker asks, why doesn’t the sky come to the ground? Why is the moon still up in the sky?

And you start to think. And it appears that the class joker was on to something. Something that you didn’t know about. Suddenly you aren’t so sure about your understanding.

Different students need different types of assessments

Well, all of us have pondered about many wonders around us but missed out many others.

That is just the way some of us are.

But when the class joker asked a question that has probably played in their mind for a while, we find that despite having understood all there was to, the moment a different question arose, we were confounded. How much do I know?  Is the joker wasting time by asking irrelevant questions?

The class joker on their part hasn’t quite understood the concept of gravity. In fact, they probably have not focused much on the subject as much as on all that they can see. They have listened to the teacher, they have heard the discussions but now that questions have arisen, they are lost.

Formal education and formal assessments

We enter formal education so that our minds can be directed along a path and we are better able to understand events as they unfold. There are different types of learners. There is one who focuses on the subject and tries to apply their learning to different situations. There is the other who takes in a little information and looks around, trying to connect a variety of dots, with some hits and some misses.

The first is what formal education tries to do. It presents centuries of learning and observation, explains work that has already been done. Many concepts have been either successfully applied in everyday things or have formed the basis for much new thought that is arising in the world. Each successive generation has a lot of catching up to do, some students focus on doing only that.

The second approach involves educating ourselves, drawing our conclusions and checking back. This is certainly an effective means when paired with the first. Paired with the systematic approach of the first, it possesses the potential of understanding more than what the subject matter presents. In the absence of a careful approach, it risks falling to a side.

Usually, a student will pick up a mix of both with varying degrees of success.

How does self assessment help?

This is where self-assessment comes in. It isn’t important what style of learning you have. It is just a preferred method of doing something. What matters is knowing where you stand. If you are expected to have achieved a certain level of understanding at your level, are you there?

Practise papers help you to answer and check back what all you have learned, understood and retained in memory. But there is more.

Practise papers also give you scope to check whether you have learned the application of a concept. Often, an event is explained by a variety of concepts together.

In the above example, hot air rising is in direct contrast to the force of gravity. It brings out the presence of different factors that get together to form a single event and allows a student to widen perspective. So, the class joker raised a pertinent question.

If you were able to work out the answer, well and good.

Knowledge of an answer to a tangential question is not a measure of how much or how little one knows. If you were not, it merely means you need to widen your scope of reading and practise.

 Different methods of self assessment
  • Revision, this may be verbal or writing practise sessions
  • Spend time on the internet to scan through mock papers to attempt
  • Allot a few hours, actively write a paper and check the answers against the solutions provided

Do you find yourself able to answer? Were all the points covered? Did you have to check back or return to your text book in the course of the paper?

What is the score you received?

Self assessment allows you to independently gauge your understanding and seek out solutions for yourself. For one student, the solution may lie in another round of studying. Other valid ways are speaking with your peer group and taking guidance from a trusted teacher. If this leads you to widen your reading or viewing online resources for better grasp of the subject, be willing to check them.

The exercise of assessment aims only to guide you towards getting a better score. If you find yourself worrying and getting anxious that your understanding is not up to the mark, it defeats the purpose of the exercise. If you want to take charge and direct your attention to better performance, self-assessment is the right way for you.

Letspractise.com provides chapter-wise MCQ tests for all subjects. It helps you evaluate what you know well and what you need to improve upon. Download, register and take the free Trial today !

  • Contributed by Shobna Iyer 

 

 

 

Half-yearly exams – How to prepare?

It feels as though June just went by and my child just joined school for the new academic year.  I can still smell the fresh new books and remember the feel of the crisp new uniform. And hey – the half-yearly exams are already around the corner. How time flies! Add to this the festive season and a slight panic raises its head in your chest.

The half-yearly exams can be a blessing in disguise. It gives you the perfect opportunity to test yourself. It also lets you know how well prepared you are for the final end-of-year exams. For parents, it is the right time to know how much more help your child needs. Letspractise can be a great tool to gauge the preparedness of your child.

Every parent wants their child to fare well in the exams. How to be a performing student? How can you ace the exams without breaking too much sweat?

Here are a few tips which can help:

Make a timetable.

This will highlight how much work you have and help you plan your study time accordingly. It will allow you to allocate time for revision. Make sure to allow a buffer for last-minute project work assigned by the school, practical exams, lab-time etc. Here are some helpful tips to help make a timetable. 

Use Highlighters while studying

This is one of the best weapons in your arsenal. While studying a chapter highlight all the important points which you think can help later on. But you need to make sure that you don’t overuse the highlighter because it defeats the whole purpose and also leaves you with a mess with no head or tail. Use the highlighter wisely so that you can read the important pointers even at the last minute before entering the examination hall.

Assess. Revise. Learn

So how to study? For each chapter, read it thoroughly first. Then attempt different types of questions without seeing the answers. This will allow you to assess how much you really know and which areas are a problem. Then focus on problem areas only, the second time around. Repeat this process until the entire chapter is learnt.

writing is the best way to learn

Our brain learns much better when we write something down. The brain captures an image of what we write and then process it for better understanding. This helps us to learn and remember what we have studied and stays with us for a longer time. The whole process may demand some extra time compared to your usual routine, but it’s worth it.

Switch subjects to break monotony

It is a known fact that reading the same subject over a long duration of time can be very boring and tiresome. It is advisable not to force oneself to study the subject if you don`t feel like it. The best way to cope with it is to study different subjects. The switch will help you freshen up and start again with new vigor.

monitor your diet 

Heavy and friend foods make the body work harder to digest them. This results in lethargy and laziness. It makes the mind sluggish. Eat a light and healthy meal every 2-3 hours, like salads, fruits and nuts. Reduce portion sizes of meals slightly. Do drink ample amount of water so that you don’t fall sick right before the exams. Here are some tips to eat right while preparing for half-yearly exams.

Sleep well 

We believe that if we pull an all-nighter it will help us cover all chapters and topics. This is the wrong way to do it. Make sure that you sleep at least 6-7 hours every day. This way when the exams are close by and you need a little more extra study hours, you won’t have to cut down on your sleep time. The body will be accustomed to the sleep pattern and you will feel fresh every time you wake up.

Do not burn out

We tend to study for long hours thinking it will help us cover all our topics. However, this is not a good way to study. Our body needs rest after every couple of hours. Sitting down for long stretches in one go will do more harm than good. It is imperative that you take breaks from your study which will give your body time to rejuvenate and you can start with a fresh mind. This is a good article that explains the importance of rest for a student.

Plan Last minute stuff

Follow the instructions given about the types of pouches and stationery allowed in the exam hall. Make sure you have your pen, pencil, refills, eraser, geometry box, sharpener, scale, graph, and any other items which you may need for the exam. Keep your id-card, uniform, shoes and packed bag ready the night before. Don’t forget to set your alarm clock. This will allow to you leave in a relaxed and happy frame of mind for the exam. Make sure to have a light breakfast before you leave.

last but not the least……

There is no need to panic before the half-yearly exams, just keep calm and believe in yourself that you can do it. The best results will come forward when you work with your strengths and not worry about the weaknesses.

Letspractise offers test series and chapter-wise worksheets for revision and online MCQ tests for self-assessment. Boards supported are CBSE/ICSE/State/IGCSE. Grades supported are 1st to 10th.

Visit the site or download the app, or call 9168803366. We are happy to assist you!

Importance of practicing mock papers before an exam

Before a discussion on why mock papers are important – let’s start with a few questions of three imaginary types of students, one an ideal, the kid every parent wishes their children were. The second who is closer to what students are and the third, the epitome of cool, well…

What kind of student have you been these last few months?

Diligent – You’re up to date with school work, you have completed your homework and know your subjects well. Completely ready.

Sort-of diligent – I have to brush up a bit, made a time-table. If I had to give my paper tomorrow, I wouldn’t be ready but I will be when the exams arrive.

Ho-hum, had some fun – There’s a battery called Eveready, then there’s me, Neveready.

How’s your written practice been?

Diligent – I know everything verbally, writing is a serious waste of time

Sort-of diligent – I guess I’ll do it, if there is time

Ho-hum, had some fun – You mean, with a pen?

How would you rate your conceptual clarity?

Diligent – easily 7 to 9 and that’s only because 10 would make me appear like a show-off

Sort-of diligent – 5 to 7, it varies though, depends on how much I like my teacher or the subject

Ho-hum, had some fun – umm, let’s start at the meaning of concept, shall we?

How to get down to actually practicing?

Many students balk at the idea of practising with mock papers. Yes, it is time-consuming, involves writing and eats into time for other things.

A good way to look at practise is by observing the best. Have you watched the kabaddi matches? The kabaddi player has to have the ability to hold the breath while entering the opponent’s arena. The reflexes have to be strong to get someone out, wrestling skills must be good enough to get away from being grappled to the ground and most of all, the ability to run when the odds are against them.

They follow a rigorous training regimen, follow a strict diet and must be mentally fit to face up to loss and win. How much rigour can a person undertake? There are times when the player gets bored. In that case, the coach changes the schedule, gives some slack time. The food can get boring, the dietician plans for cheat days. Yet the training continues.

Did you know that in competitive sports, there is a person to keep the motivation up? What we need to understand is that we human being wants to rest after doing some work, some routine change, some entertainment and rest. The coach assigned to the players knows to take all of these requirements in their stride while still working to a goal. Yet, practise is paramount. That is the only way ahead.

The same applies to students, yes, there is a lot to do. The only way to weed out the possibility of poor output is by way of practising.

Lack of practise leads to the following outcomes

Even if you know a subject, when it comes to writing the answer, a few things may happen:

·        Concept confusion – getting different concepts muddled, realising that your understanding was incomplete. If you haven’t had time to revise, and realise that you are muddled during the exam, you run the risk of getting anxious about all aspects of the subject

·        Untidy handwriting, too much scratching – too many mistakes for lack of practice, mock papers force you to see how your answers look once you have finished. Are you able to read your own handwriting to check your paper?

·        Poor flow of thought – this has everything to do with remembering points as they arrive in your head and not in the sequence that you would like

·        Long answers – sometimes, we know a lot about something but haven’t worked on wording it well

·        Insufficient time – practising mock papers allows you to prepare with a clear time allotment for different sections

·        New types of questions – The exam papers will not always have questions that have been practised in class. That means, you have to formulate the answer in a short time frame and under some stress.

Even if you have been diligent and on top of the class, practising with mock papers helps you to face the exams with confidence.

Face exams with confidence

Practise writing, check your answers, refine and shorten them so that the quality of answers is superior. Also, since you already have a habit of trying to make better answers, you are better skilled in the art of clarity and brevity. Both of these are learned skills, perfected through practice.

For the not-so-diligent student, you can up your performance through practise. Think about it, you are sacrificing so much time, putting so much effort and even if it feels a little last minute, you may as well aim to do well. Otherwise you would have lost that free time for no good reason. What if you look at practise as a task to be taken alongside your studies, as a means to cement all that you have done. Maybe at the end of the week, you can put aside maybe half a day for practising with mock papers. If you don’t have much time to revise and write a mock paper. Can you read through one? Can you verbally try solving it and checking for the areas that need a brush up? Mock papers are a great way to make the experience of examinations a stress-free time.

The ho-hum student, just start your work now. A good way to use mock papers is to try the verbal route. If you are able to practice with writing in the time available that will certainly help. 

 Letspractise.com provides a test paper series to help you practice before exams. Customized to your requirements. CBSE/ICSE/State/IGCSE, Grades 1-10, all subjects. 

 

Just do whatever it takes to study. If you start feeling stressed, calm down and work.

  • Contributed by Shobna Iyer

Newspapers – Why should children read them ?

Newspapers are one of the simplest methods to convey events to the rest of the world. They have been in service for a very long time and have still not gone out of fashion.

With the advent of technology, news-reading has left the arena of paper and ink, and has reached the smartphones in our hands. But that does not mean that reading newspapers has become a dying habit. In India alone, over a hundred thousand newspaper publications are registered with the Registrar of Newspaper for India who has a collective circulation of over 250 million every day. Though Hindi is the major language used in print, Indian newspapers are printed in 22 different languages for the benefit of the people all over the country. These numbers alone justify how newspapers affect the daily life of any commoner.

Personal growth and development

           Newspaper reading is very important habit to inculcate in children. It teaches a child to read, to listen, and the importance of patience. Children develop a  habit of justifying things with fact-based, fool-proof logic, before coming to believe in anything. Newspapers teach children the art of sitting down and thinking over things before making an opinion.

A newspaper is like a reality check for  children. They understand what intrigues them the most, what fascinates them the best, what they find the most exciting in the world. Reading a newspaper can help the child to formulate opinions about what they want to be when they grow up.  

It should also be noted that newspaper articles are usually crafted by people who are exceptionally learned and can write brilliantly. As a result, a newspaper teaches children a lot about language. It not only makes them good readers and listeners, but it can also make them good writers. Reading newspaper in any language inculcates a better understanding of that language and how it is to be used.

inculcates civic sense

Children need to care about issues that concern the world, as it will eventually concern the individual at some point in time, in some way or the other. As the habit of reading newspapers develops in children, they learn ways to gain, accept and even filter knowledge from all around the world. Newspapers help a child a lot in their formative years and help them to grow into responsible, good human beings.

            A newspaper comprises of various sections and contributes different news from all around the world. International and national issues, local events, sports developments, scientific advancements of the most innovative technologies, all are covered in a newspaper. It tells children about everything that is right as well wrong about the world and develops the zeal in them to contribute to the development of society.

appeals to the creative side 

Newspapers are one place that is known to print some of the most exceptional photographs from around the world. These photographs may be clicked by some of the best photographers and children get exposed to such artistic wonders. They get to see the beautiful world from the eyes of someone else. A photograph is always more attractive than mere written words and can speak a story of its own. The colorful photographs are indeed what keep young kids attracted to newspapers in the first place.

useful information

            Newspapers also have weekly inserts catering to specific domains like employment, education, fashion, art, culture, entrepreneurship and lifestyle.  These are a veritable treasure chest of information. Often there are columns related to latest events, innovations and counselling in the above areas. There is also a section related to happenings in and around town, like exhibitions, interesting movies, plays, music, art, dance, and family events like Happy Streets.

Newspapers can be fun 

Often, children prefer to read fiction over non-fiction. This is a good habit, as it develops imagination and vocabulary. Some newspapers like NewsShuttle are children-friendly; comprising of various fun articles, detective stories, games, comic sections and puzzles.  Other examples of newpapers for younger children are  The Young chronicle, the Children’s post, Robinage. Teenagers can graduate to reading The Indian Express, The Hindu and The Times of India.

good readers also study better

Studies are also an important part of a child’s journey. Encouraging children not just to byheart concepts, but explore and learn them is important. Letspractise is an online tool which allows parents to gauge understanding level of concepts. It also helps to reinforce learning gaps with personally customized worksheets. Boards supported are CBSE/ICSE/State/IGCSE. Grades supported are 1st to 10th.

               Visit the site or download the Letspractise app, or call 9168803366. We are happy to assist you. 

Why rest is important for a student.

The power of rest

Have you ever seen the grinder-mixer at work in the kitchen? When it roars into action, the blade moves at a rotational speed of eighteen to twenty-three thousand revolutions per minute (rpm). After moving at that speed, the machine has to be switched off within a minute. Touch the machine when it is off. You will find that it is hot.

The machine has to cool properly in order to be ready for use again.

Depending on the speed and duration for which a machine is run, there is an appropriate rest period during which the motor cools. Any effort to run the machine beyond capacity would lead to the motor being automatically switched off, or to burn out. Our body and brain are similar to the machines we utilise.

A day in the life of a student

You start your day with activity, you eat your breakfast, you hurry to school, you sit in class, run out to play during recess and at the day’s end, you run home. Since it is so important to revise and practise at least one or two subjects a day, you do that. In the evening, your friends call you to play and you are off. Add to this, some online gaming and Whatsapp time.

Your body-mind machine has been busy and active for almost twelve to fourteen hours. It needs time to rest.

When we are overworked, we too should switch off. Instead, our bodies try to adapt. Not in a good way. Let’s see what happens when we don’t rest enough:

Confusion

Young people will find themselves getting angry, forgetting where they kept things, forget what they were meant to complete. Nothing will seem right. You feel like snacking on sweets although you just ate your lunch. You are thirsty but confuse it with hunger and start demanding more food. You feel confused because you aren’t really hungry. You know something doesn’t feel right, but aren’t sure what it is.

Unable to sleep though tired

You are tired but sleep won’t come. Also, you have too much work to do. Insufficient sleep causes a chemical called cortisol to increase. Cortisol increases our breathing capacity and we feel up and ready to run. But there is nothing to run from or to run for. This is because the brain misunderstood the requirement. Instead of staying quiet and letting you sleep, the brain has been told that you have to move fast. Actually, what you wanted was to sleep well and wake early to finish your backlog.

Reduced athletic performance

Let’s say you are on the sports team. Obviously, the load on you is higher. Homework and classes will continue. Maybe you have a backlog of classwork to complete. All this adds to your waking hours and before you know it, shows up in how you play.

Have you heard of Serena Williams, the tennis champ? She spends a large part of her day exercising and in practice sessions. She goes to sleep at 7 pm and makes sure to get undisturbed, high quality rest. Most athletes sleep anywhere between 7 to 8 hours with short quick naps in the course of the day.

What should you as a student do?

One weekend, do an experiment. Check how much time you need before you wake up feeling rested. Small children usually need 10 to 12 hours and as they grow, it seems to reduce. However, once teenage approaches, the sleep requirement increases. That’s because the brain and body are working overtime to help a growth surge to occur. We are not supposed to disrupt this effort.

What to do?

Check yourself

This means stopping for a moment and doing a personal check. Are your eyes tired? Does your mouth feel dry? Are you hungry? Where exactly are you uncomfortable? Take a little water, is that your need? Eat a little, does it make you feel better? Though this skill is usually taught to babies, in the rush of day to day life, it gets missed out. Why, even grownups mistake thirst for hunger. We get used to doing things at a certain time and try to run on automatic. When things get busy, like school fairs and competitions or major exams, the self-check is forgotten. And a glitch sets in.

Rest a bit

Feeling frazzled? Aren’t sure what’s wrong? Go to bed, take ten deep breaths. With each inward breath, make your stomach balloon up and with each exhalation, let it rest again. If you fall asleep while doing this, maybe you need it. Keep an alarm for 15 minutes so you are able to get up and finish what you had to.

If you do not fall asleep but are feeling better, maybe you just needed to breathe a little more. In fact, though breathing is an autonomous function, sometimes we just don’t breathe that well. Our brain doesn’t get the required amount of oxygen.

Stop ‘trying’ to rest

The exam is tomorrow and you cannot afford to lie down. You just don’t have time. It is okay, you know you can rest after a short spurt like this. Get up and do twenty jumping jacks. It will force you to get more oxygen into your system and help you to be more alert with your work.

Just as athletes have a rigorous practice followed by good rest habit, as students with high practise and rest needs, set up your own sleep system.