You Got Some Splaining To Do

Our Fifth Grade Team was asked to talk at a Title One meeting in Northern Utah. At first we looked at our schedules to see if that would be possible. Then we looked at what we were teaching to see what we would have to turn over to a substitute to teach. Some concepts are best to teach ourselves and, even though we have great subs, have the sub teach something else. We finally worked it out and we will be heading up on Friday. We will be talking about what we did to help our students do so well on the year end tests. There are so many things that we did and so many ideas we tried to get going last year that it would be hard to narrow them down

Our district Superintendent of Elementary Education visited with our school a couple of years ago and told us to "think out of the box". We were in the middle of the legislative time when our state lawmakers were deciding whether to take away days from the teachers to learn and prepare for the school year. He wanted us to do what we could to help our students with less money and less days to prepare our lessons in. So our school went to it and came up with a few things to change, morph, or get rid of. This was the start of what we did to help our students.

We looked at a few things to change in each subject in our grade level. We refined our lesson plans in Social Studies and put the lessons and activities on a wiki. Spelling became more of a focus and we added word sorts and Kagen Activities to help practice their words. Science was retooled and we took the lessons, added experiments and activities, and limited the lecturing where possible. Guests were invited to help teach the curriculum. Zion National Park Ranges aight about land forms and erosion while Discovery Gateway sent a presenter to show off experiments with matter. We wanted the students to have fun with what they were learning, but we made sure the learning was happening.

When we tested, we added two little things that made a big difference to the testing outcome. We tested in our own rooms to make the students feel comfortable and we made them explain their answers. We take all our year end test on computers. Testing in our rooms helped the students feel like they were taking another test in our rooms instead of taking the test in the computer lab where we visit once a week. We had parent volunteers sign up and get trained on the ethics of testing and on how to be in the testing environment and observe, but not help the students. Parents were not allowed to be the same rooms as their students.

Having the students explain their answers helped them focus to get the right answers. It made the students that hurry through the test slow down and have to think about why they answer the questions. We had them fold a paper into 32 squares and show their work in math or explain their answer in language and science. When the test finished, they turned in their scratch paper to the Escher to look over and then destroy. Students are allowed to u scratch paper on all tests, the paper just needs to be destroyed after the test.

These are not the end of what we will do the help our students succeed, but they are the start of our journey to helping these kids succeed.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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