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Have You Been Paying Attention?
“Trevor!” I called. “Trevor, wait up!” Across the hallway, a dark-haired boy with a grey and blue backpack had just walked out of Mr. Bailey’s room and was making his way to his locker. Upon hearing his name, he turned around to me.
“Oh hey, Julia!”
“Hi! So, is there a math test today?” I asked, sure that Mr. Bailey must have revealed something to his dedicated morning guest.
“No way!” I exclaimed in dismay. Then, recalling that Trevor had an extensive history of lying to me and then saying, “Just kidding!” I quickly added, “Seriously, Trevor. Tell me the truth.”
“I’m not lying - there is a math test today! Just ask Jessica!” Trevor piped defensively, as we reached his locker. Jessica, Trevor’s locker neighbor, backed him up, and went back to unpacking her bag.
“What? That doesn’t make any sense...” I muttered walking away.
Let me explain. It was Friday, May 31, 2013 – the last ‘official’ day of school for us, eight graders. (Monday, most of our class time would be spent saying goodbye and signing yearbooks, so not much learning there, and Tuesday was our graduation.) May 29th, 30th, and 31st were the designated days for our geometry final. (With forty-minute class periods, it was impossible to cover everything in one day.) I know what you are thinking. Why was I so surprised about having a test, while everyone in our class had been expecting it for a while now? It all goes back to May 22nd, when Mr. Bailey handed out our study guide.
Geometry Final- Semester 2
System of inequalities
Coordinate grid (triangle – medians, altitudes, perimeter, area, midline, etc.)
25 multiple choice (a long list of topics we covered since the beginning of the year followed)
“Have you been paying attention?” (multiple choice/short answer)
The first two days – pretty self-explanatory. I studied a lot, hoping to raise my quarter grade up by doing well on the final. But I didn’t know what to study for the third day. Neither did any of my classmates. When asked about Day 3 of our test, Mr. Bailey would only say that it was a surprise and would not be prompted further.
While I was taking the exam, I noticed that Part 1 added up to fifty points, and Part 2 added up to fifty points also. 50+50=100… so were we simply not having a test on Day 3? “That must be it!” I thought to myself excitedly as I turned in Part 2 of my test.
Trevor had been one of the few kids in our math class who decided to come to school early for math help before the test because he believed that there was indeed a Part 3 to our test, and he was determined to come to class prepared. Although I was pretty sure about my theory, I chose to stay on the safe side and ask Trevor what he knew about our puzzling final. When he told me, I was crestfallen but a part of me still hoped that Mr. Bailey’s “test” would end up to be some kind of prank. After all, I thought, we weren’t having any classes on Monday, so if we were tested today that meant we would never find out our final score, and Mr. Bailey wouldn’t do that to us…or would he?
Trevor told me at lunch that Mr. Bailey mentioned some kind of proof would be on the test. I sighed. Goodness. The lunch table was littered with geometry textbooks that some classmates brought for last-minute studying. I borrowed a textbook from my friend, Carson and started frantically turning the pages, thinking: What to study? What to study? Finally, I put the textbook down knowing that this was hopeless. I had no idea what topics would show up today, and I wouldn’t be able to review everything in the twenty minutes that were left of lunch/recess, so what was the use? Soon, my friends came to the same conclusion as I, and we started talking about the end of the year, planning a way to celebrate when school was out. Eventually, we decided on a water balloon fight.
Before long, tenth period rolled around, the final, most dreaded forty minutes of our last “legit” day of school. When I got to class, everyone was already there, even though I was not late. The test had by now been placed face down on all the desks, and just as I settled in, our teacher said,
“You may begin!”
I turned my test over and looked at the first page. The frame for a two column proof was set up and it was a page long. There was no diagram. My heart started speeding up. Proofs without pictures were my weakness in geometry. As I started reading the problem, I heard some of my classmates giggling. What was so funny? By the time I had finished reading the problem, the whole class was roaring with laughter, myself included.
We were supposed to prove how Superman reversed the Earth’s rotation in Superman: The Movie (1978). The test was a joke! I flipped over the page and began reading the short answer questions, including the probability of our classmates acting a certain way, the nicknames of our first and last textbook assignments (yes, Mr. Bailey gave our assignments names), and other random stuff. I smiled when I came across the problem asking us to derive our own theorem and name it after ourselves. I knew it! We were not having a real test!
“Oh my gosh, I still remember our first textbook assignment,” Jim called out. “It was Alpha!”
“Oh yeah...” a murmur followed.
“Hey, no cheating on the test, Jim!” Carson called out. We all laughed. Soon our loud voices died down and were replaced by the frequent scratching of pencils across paper.
Five minutes before the period ended, Mr. Bailey collected our tests, and handed out our final quarter grades.
“Your final scores are included in this grade. If you wish to see you final, you can come in early on Monday…,” he said.
“Mr. Bailey, how are you going to grade Part 3 of our tests?” I asked with a grin.
“By how entertaining the answers are!” Mr. Bailey answered. I couldn’t keep back a smile. It was the most fun test I had ever taken.