On Monday, Organic Mama and I administer the final exam to our respective Foundations of English classes. It’s going to be interesting, for us and for them.
We put the test together on Wednesday, and had a blast doing it. It took us a while to settle down and get to business, but I think that we came up with a test that is fair and relatively comprehensive – and it’s going to scare the shit out of most of our students.
After all the formatting, it came out to fifteen sections that take up six pages. We ask students to list the five things that make a sentence complete, to match parts of speech to their definitions and to list at least one example of each, and to identify and fix sentence fragments. Section five asks students to find the subject and verb in each sentence, and section six is all about commas. Then, we’ve got some subject/verb agreement exercises, some pronoun/antecedent exercises, and some work in choosing either I or ME in sentences. Next come a couple of sections of apostrophe questions, a bunch of sentences written in colloquial language that we want the students to fix and, finally, a bit of ‘commonly confused words’ work.
Their heads are going to explode.
None of it is that difficult, really. Mama and I had to keep reminding ourselves that “too easy” for us is challenging to our students, and it was difficult – for both of us, I think, though I can’t speak for her – to keep the bar low enough to guarantee at least some student success. Seriously. Here are some examples of the questions we ask:
In the following sentences, correct the verb form, if necessary:
-When he walk into a room, everybody looks up.
-The bookstore hasn’t receive the books yet.
-She don’t know how to get to the party.
Circle the correct pronoun:
-Sam is a better cook than (I/ME).
-Enrique made souffle for my husband and (I/ME).
Change the following sentences to clarify the pronoun:
-Harvey told his father that he was too old to play with the Cub Scouts.
-Clifford’s father died when he was twelve years old.
I’m really hoping that they do well, though I have to admit a lack of optimism for the outcome. It’s not that they haven’t worked hard or that we haven’t been diligent teachers, but that we just haven’t had enough time.