We are out for spring break this week. Hooray! I'm enjoying sleeping in a bit, at least until 8:30, and hanging out in my PJ's. Sweet! However our state testing is just around the corner and I wanted to share a few tips I use to help my little ones get ready.
First, I solicit volunteers. I have narrowed my focus on my lowest performing group of sweeties. During math, I want to small-group them without interruption and reteach skills they still struggle with. Problem - how to manage the rest? Solution – plan to use review games on skills they need refreshing and use a volunteer, when you can, to help you manage it. I have been so fortunate to have my own son, who is a senior this year, come in and help for about 2 hours every Thursday and Friday. (Volunteering in the workplace is part of his Honor’s curriculum.) This is exactly what he's been doing in my classroom. He takes care of re-explaining the game directions, solving partner squabbles, managing the noise level, etc. He even plays with them if someone needs a partner. He loves it, they love him, and I love seeing my small group of strugglers "get it" as I reteach a much needed skill they missed, while my other sweeties are getting a much needed refresher at the same time!
Second, I narrow my focus. Above I mentioned that I had "narrowed my focus" on my lowest performing group of students. For Math, I use our county's benchmark tests to help me do this. I choose the neediest six students based on the data. I write their names down, and then I check their scantron or answer sheet and write the number of the problems down next to their name. After I have done that for all six students, I circle the question numbers that most of them missed. This keeps me from wasting time teaching something they already know. I look at the skills that these questions addressed and why my students missed them. For example, with elapsed time, I found that they just didn't know how to calculate when they had to go backwards into the previous hour to find a “start time”. They answered several other elapsed time questions correctly. In this small group, I was able to keep their attention and give them more of my individualized attention. I love my small groups because as I observe them working out their problems, I can more easily see when their skill knowledge starts to break down.
I will continue to share test pre tips as we get near to these assessments. Don’t miss my next post as I will be including a printable chart with key words for students to look for to help them with different types of reading questions.
For now, since I shared how I was working with my students to calculate elapsed time, I want to share these elapsed time story problems you can use with your kiddos in your small group time, or whenever you want. Click here to grab your copy. Have a great week!