Midterm Results

It’s always important to measure just yourself, to see if you’re happy.  Of course it’s always important to measure yourself against everyone, to see where you stand.  It’s hard to make sense of a bunch of numbers.  It’s also very important to remember you are more than a number in a box.  That number means something, but it’s not who you are.  It’s how you did on one exam on one day.

The grade is on home access now.  The midterm “grade” is doubled, your score is out of 200 points (so it fits into one column).  Your test score is that number divided by 2.  If home access says 160/200, that means you earned an 80%.

Your overall grade for 2nd quarter means more than the number in that last column.  You are not a snapshot, your life is a movie, running at many frames per second.   Don’t gloat if you did well (at least not in public, in private you can do your own happy dance).

If you did poorly, or worse than you wanted to (that’s a lot of you), we will review it all on Thursday.  You can’t keep it, but you can review it in class, and privately in the room, with or without me talking with you.

As expected the grades for the class dropped by 3% on average.  Some kids went up, some worse than that.

Here’s a quick breakdown… 
84 students took the test, with a 68.1% average.  
51 students passed, and 33 failed to earn a 65%
I did a straight average, total points divided by 85 possible.  The Regents has a “scaled score” which is really a curve with a different name.  Using “that” scale, where if you get 59% of the questions correct, that would have been 76% passing, just under the normal rate in my class over 14 years.  

This is not good, but this is normal.  This is a wake up call.  If you did not do well, that means you’re not doing the work right.  You might be copying too much.  You might be letting others do the lab while you copy numbers into boxes (numbers in boxes again).  You learn by doing.

Maybe you go to the bathroom every single day in our class because you’re not pushing yourself hard enough.  You think you need breaks, and maybe you do, but probably you don’t.  Maybe you use your phone in class (and I don’t catch you).  Maybe you don’t study right but you haven’t had time to ask me for suggestions.

This is that class that the “smart” kids take, but many struggle like never before, because this is the first especially challenging course that requires practice (which is not quite the same as reviewing notes).  Maybe you don’t know the math yet, and you are too nervous to say that to me, which is silly.

When we see this on Thursday you will see what it was that you did.  Blame away, but the truth is that none of the students knew any chem coming in, and there were lots of kids that did well.  They are doing things differently than you are.  You could keep banging your head against the wall (metaphorically) or you could ask what you might start doing differently.  Don’t get angry, which will be the expected (teenage) response.  The chem is perfect, and I am nice.  If you did poorly, the only way to improve is to take personal responsibility, and begin to change.

The questions are mostly old regents exam questions.  You will need to learn to read them better, and answer what you are asked.  You’ll have to use all the words you need to answer a question, and not fill in with fluff.  Fluff does not score points.

You have to go slower, you need to use your units, and you need to learn basic facts, like 1000 J = 1 kilojoule.  That’s on table B and you should know that by now anyway.  A kilo is 1000x bigger than any unit.  There is no shame in not knowing something, but shame is when you find out you don’t know, and you still don’t care enough to ask and learn.

You can be anything you want in your life, but it requires hard work.  Isaac Newton once posited: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”  Ask yourself, what actions have you taken to do well on this exam?  Did you really do them?  If no, stop fooling yourself, the truth has arrived.  I will help you do better, but you have to come in.

If you did what you were supposed to but it still didn’t work out, let’s go through your midterm together, one question at a time, to see where your understanding of the chem is incorrect, or your understanding of what actions you took were less valuable.

Life is difficult, and so is chemistry.  Don’t quit on yourself.  This is one of those old fashioned learning experiences.  I am still happy to be your teacher and I will continue to work as hard as it takes to help you be better students.

Peace, love, and chemistry.  Charlie Arbuiso

Gas Chemistry – Calendar thru 2-6