Monday, January 20, 2014

And Now We Can Get Back to Normal...Whatever That Is

Ah, Monday again.  The weekend is already gone, and I don't feel like I've really stopped working all that much since Friday.  Friday night I worked up until almost 11PM.  Saturday I started working around 5PM and stopped around 10PM.  Yesterday, I started around noon and didn't stop until 10PM... but throw in LOTS of breaks for laundry, grocery shopping, and going to take my nephew home because he spent the night here Saturday night.

And about 80% of that time was spent dissecting the mock MAP tests from last week.  Like really dissecting it.

Peanut asked me yesterday why I was spending so much time messing with it.  Why I didn't just grade it in class with my kids and be done with it.  

Well, what good does that do me?  If we spend all that time having a mock version of the actual MAP test, I might as well find out why the kids made the scores they did and what I can do to improve them, right?  It's a lot easier with regular tests we take at school, because they are usually over one skill area.  So, if a kid bombs the test, I know right away that they haven't mastered that skill.  But, the mock MAP tests over LOTS of skill areas and standards.  Just stamping a grade on it and calling it done would kinda be a big, fat waste of the time we spent taking it.  

And, I'm really glad I did take the time to dissect the tests, because I was extremely surprised with what I discovered.  For the most part, my kids did OK.  Not great, but not unbelievably terrible.   Most of the class scored between 50-80%.  But, when I grouped all the questions together by standard/skill, I discovered that there weren't many students who had problems with specific skills...or many skills anyway.

What I mean is, hardly any kids missed ALL the questions relating to author's purpose, or main idea, or fact & opinion.  They missed A question or two in each area.   Hardly enough to consider them well below the "mastery" level.  If they missed 1 out of 4 questions, do I assume they need reteaching in the skill or do I chalk it up to them not fully understanding that one particular question?   It was amazing to see that even though the final score on the test wasn't that great, missing a question in each of the tested standards still adds up pretty quick.  By just looking at the grade one would assume that the student was in need of some hardcore reteaching.  

So, that's when I started tallying and dissecting.  I found out that there were specific questions that many of the kiddos missed, but hardly any sets of questions relating to a skill.  I chalk that up to a confusing question.  Which is a good thing.  It means that the kids may not have made the best grade possible, but it's not because they are really far behind in their learning or didn't grasp the concepts when they were being taught.  And that's a good thing to know. 

What I'm really happy about, though, is the fact that this week we can just get back to life as normal.  Starting new units, new concepts, and new skills.  Testing is over, and I can take the information I've learned from the test and apply it in to my day-to-day teaching.  

I'm ready to have my normal schedule back, and I think the kids are too.  Spending the first two hours of the day in complete silence while testing throws everything out of whack.  

Because of how much time I spent going over the tests this weekend, I wasn't able to spend near as much time on my lesson planning.  My team had all sat down Friday afternoon and planned out our week, but very rarely do I stick to everybody else's plan.  I like to throw in my own stuff, my own methods, my own resources.  Thankfully, I'd started coming up with ideas for the new units we're about to start back during our week off because of snow.  The extras that I want to use, I'll fill in during the week, as the ideas come to me.

Now that the first semester is over, I feel like we're in that downward spiral.  Time will fly by pretty quickly between now and May.  It's time to make every second count.  There's still so much to teach, and so much for the kids to learn.  Now is not the time to start rushing through stuff.  I have to keep reminding myself that.  

But, right now, I really need to think about getting ready for work.  Today, like pretty much every Monday, I'm all over the place and a little dry with my topic... but oh well.  I need to get this week started, light that fire inside of me, and better will come.  

Have a great Monday, everyone.


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