The New York State Regents Examination in Chemistry does not allow graphing calculators because programs can be saved that would solve various problems. For that reason, most departments I worked in did not allow the use of graphing calculators in science class. Check with other members in your department if you are not familiar with your school policy.
Because students were juggling two calculators, sometimes they forgot the scientific calculator for a quiz or test. I eventually developed a classroom policy providing “Emergency Calculators” for students who forgot their scientific calculator. Each students could use an Emergency Calculator 1x per quarter. If the Emergency Calculator was not used, the student would earn a 100 on a homework grade.
I was able to purchase a group of six solar-powered calculators -- at the local dollar store -- to use as Emergency Calculators that I kept in the classroom.
Many years ago, my cooperating teacher showed me to put a dot by the right side of the letter "C" on a multiple-choice test. You see, "C" and be turned into an A or a D if the responses are handwritten. I remember being shocked at having to do that.
Over the years, I learned to put dots not only by the C, but also by A, B, and D to show what the letter was when you graded. I don't have a picture of it right now -- imagine a box around the letter, each corner would stand for a letter.
This made it a lot easier when a student spoke to me about the quiz or test that wasn't graded correctly. If the letter was changed, I was able to tell by looking at the dot I had placed. I calmly told the student how I was able to tell, and that I was not changing the grade. If a mistake had been made, I would correct the grade.
Short Answer questions
For short answer questions, I eventually included the following instructions:
For the following mathematical problems, show all work, including unit cancellation, for full credit. Partial credit will be awarded. Circle the final answer. ANSWERS WITHOUT EVIDENCE OF A MATHEMATICAL SOLUTION DIRECTLY LEADING TO THE ANSWER WILL NOT RECEIVE CREDIT. For questions using the factor-label method, answers without work that includes units will receive NO CREDIT.
This statement was to clarify the expectation and aid in any discussions about grading of quizzes or tests.
Multiple test versions
I eventually went to two versions of a quiz or test. Yes, it's more work, but it was fair to the students who were prepared for the quiz or test. I would rearrange questions for the multiple choice section, and change starting numbers for short answer questions (typically in a Part II section).
If you are using a test generating program (many new textbooks offer the CD-ROM with sample copies), it will generate two versions of the multiple-choice test quite easily. Check in your Science Department to see if anybody already has that resource.
Today is my first day of posting on Friday. I hope that this will give you the weekend to research the recommended resources.
My lab book "Chemistry on a Budget" (available for $20 at amazon.com or $23 at lulu.com) contains two labs dealing with Density and one about Significant Figures. I will be posting about Density next Friday, 9/12/14 and I will be mentioning those labs briefly. If you want it handy for use, order it now!
The book contains 13 labs that require consumable materials you can purchase at local stores.
Each lab is presented with two possible report formats -- both labs use the same procedure but each has a different conclusion -- one with 10 questions to be answered as a conclusion, the other with a full laboratory report required. This gives the teacher the option of what type of report is desired. Each version is designed to be just two pages. This way the teacher can photocopy just one 2-sided page per student (saves paper).
I hope your start of the school year is going well!
BTW, I'd love to hear from you with your questions or suggestions for blog topics.
Enjoy the weekend!