I am amazed everyday how children and adults interpret conversation, body language, actions, and directions so differently. Key phrases of this happening are “I thought you meant…” and “No, I meant…”. How many times in your teaching career have you heard and said these phrases? I take pride in skillfully writing and giving directions to students. When they misinterpret or don’t understand the directions I am usually taken aback. Key phrases of this happening are “What do you mean you don’t understand?” or “What don’t you understand about…”.

Do students sometimes “misinterpret” questions on a test? Or do teachers sometimes “misinterpret” their answers? You betcha! Earlier this year I was marking a multiple choice/written response test for reading class. Trying to work through the pile as quick as possible I used the teacher’s answer key instead of first reading the story myself. After marking several tests I noticed disparate answers for the written response questions and non of them matching the sample answers in the teacher’s guide. This should be a red flag for any teacher so I decided I had better read the story and answer the questions myself. I discovered that their responses were not “wrong” but indeed “right” depending on how they interpreted the questions!  How does this play out on standardized tests??? Could our students be answering the questions right but getting them marked wrong???

I have included a somewhat humorous look at this issue shared by my good friend and retired teacher Judy B. I don’t know the origin or author.

I would have given him 100%
Q1. In which battle did Napoleon die?
* his last battleQ2. Where was the Declaration of Independence signed?
* at the bottom of the page

Q3. River Ravi flows in which state?
* liquid

Q4. What is the main reason for divorce?
* marriage

Q5. What is the main reason for failure?
* exams

Q6. What can you never eat for breakfast?
* Lunch & dinner

Q7. What looks like half an apple?
* The other half

Q8. If you throw a red stone into the blue sea what it will become?
* It will simply become wet

Q9. How can a man go eight days without sleeping ?
* No problem, he sleeps at night.

Q10. How can you lift an elephant with one hand?
* You will never find an elephant that has only one hand..

Q11. If you had three apples and four oranges in one hand and four apples and three oranges in other hand, what would you have ?
* Very large hands

Q12. If it took eight men ten hours to build a wall, how long would it take four men to build it?
* No time at all, the wall is already built.

Q13. How can u drop a raw egg onto a concrete floor without cracking it?
*Any way you want, concrete floors are very hard to crack.


About Terry F Erickson

I am a fourth grade teacher in Edina, Minnesota, USA.

One response »

  1. wendy Carlson says:

    Interesting thoughts! I am privileged to have you as my colleague. Thaks for sharing.

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