Friday, January 17, 2014

Finally Friday!!


Being that this was my first full week back to work since the middle of December, I feel kinda bad being so happy that it's Friday.  I mean, because I'm so tired and feel like this has been one of the longest weeks ever.

But, I know I am so tired and ready for the weekend because after such a long break, my body just isn't used to getting up so early and working so hard.

Yesterday was like night and day compared to what I went through on Wednesday.  Which makes sense being that I totally blamed the kids' craziness on the full moon Wednesday.  Wednesday they wouldn't stop talking, stay in their seats, stand in line quietly, or let me get a sentence out of my mouth without blurting out random questions.  Yesterday,  I didn't have to ask them one time to stop talking.  

Weird, right?

The kids came in yesterday morning, got out a book to read, and sat there almost silently reading.  When we went to lunch, they got in line and stood there without a single word.  We were able to grade the portion of the mock MAP test that we took without any interruptions or questons that had absolutely nothing to do with what we were doing.  In fact, they asked plenty of amazing questions about what the test had asked and how they had worked the problems.  During their specials class, they earned a Tiger Paw (a reward that can be traded in for extra recess after receiving so many) for their hard work.  Which is a big deal, because it just so happened to be a special where they usually have a hard time controlling the chatter.  

It was AWESOME!!

I made sure to acknowledge their hard work and thank them for being so quiet and asking such great questions.  You can never go wrong with positive reinforcement.  

I'm ready for today to be over simply because we can finish up the mock MAP and get back to "life as usual" next week.  Real lesson plans, real lessons, real learning.  

I'll be crunching all the numbers and doing my analysis over the mock MAP this weekend, so I can build my lesson plans to cover the areas the students need additional help with.  Even though I haven't gone over each test, the ones that I have looked at didn't do too bad.  Hopefully that means I'm doing something right, and the kids are learning what they need to learn.  Or, they are extremely lucky when it comes to selecting the write answer.  It's one of the reasons I'm not a big fan of multiple choice... because it doesn't really give the kids a real chance to show me what they know.

If I had my way, I would hardly ever use multiple choice. I'd much rather have my students answer questions showing me the work they do for math, or explaining their answers for reading.  Because sometimes it's not just about what answer they have, but how they came to the answer.  

It's a lot easier to fix an issue if I know a student is getting multiplication problems wrong because they are adding instead of multiplying.  It's a lot easier to understand what I need to focus on if a student isn't identifying the main idea of a passage because they are confusing it with a topic sentence of a paragraph in the passage.  

Taking a test like that would take a lot longer, but would give me SOOOOO much more information and end up making my job easier in the long run.  

It's what I did last year.  Most of the tests I used during the regular lesson time were tests I created.  I required short answer and long answers, and if I used a multiple choice question I always had a place for the student to tell me why they selected that answer.  I was able to go through those tests and pinpoint exactly what was causing wrong answers, and then fix the issue.  

By just knowing that a student is struggling with multiplication means that I kinda have to start at the beginning and go over everything again, when the whole time the issue may just be something as simple as not regrouping correctly or trouble with a particular multiplication fact family.  

Yesterday, for example, I noticed that a student had gotten a pretty tough question right.  Something we haven't covered yet, and most of the class missed.  And, I can say that I had absolutely no idea how the student got the answer right.  So, I asked him.  Know what he said?  That answer looked right.  When I asked him to explain further, he couldn't.  So, that tells me he doesn't know how to do the problem, he just guessed and got lucky.  

I guess it's a good thing it was a problem over a topic we haven't covered yet, because at least he'll be learning about it soon enough. 

I'm a big proponent of small groups and differentiation.  Meaning, I don't like to teach something to kids who already know it so I like to create groups of kids that need help with a certain skill and give the others something to work on that is at a deeper level, or applying the skill to different areas.  Working in small groups allows a better chance that students are getting the attention they need, rather than teaching all 20+ kids the same skills each day and hoping that they are all getting it.  

The mock MAP results will help me create my new groups going forward, and thankfully I've gotten to know my kids well enough that I can just use the results as a guide.  I will probably be able to know if a student knew the answer or guessed correctly.  

But, I think that I might go back to creating some assignments that have more opportunity for explaining why or how they got an answer.  

In fact, I have all kinds of ideas about some of the ways I teach certain areas that I want to try out.  

Right now, though, I need to get through today and then I can hit the ground running this weekend to start putting my plans in to affect.

Also this weekend, my family are coming over for a small birthday celebration for my brother.  That should be fun... although I have absolutely NO idea what we're going to do.  I'm sure I'll think of something.

Better go get's that time.


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