Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Small Classrooms and Other Thoughts

I've had many things that I want/need to blog about, but since I read so many wonderful blogs, I often start and stop since I am not a confident writer.  I've also been missing the weekly #flipclass chat on Monday nights lately, at least when I participate with that, I get a blog post done weekly.  Ok, enough of that rant...

Last week I taught my morning classes in a slightly larger room next door due to testing. I can't believe that after only a few days I saw such a huge difference this extra space made in my teaching.
I was able to get around the room to meet with students and pull a small group to the board and work with them indivdually. Now these are things I do every single day, but it was just immediately clear that in the larger room these practices were so much more effective.
There's also the difference in the sound of the room. In my tiny square room students can be almost whispering and it sounds like they are screaming.  It is hard to concentrate, conference with small groups or conference individually.
Being the ultimate optimist, I hate to dwell on negative things, but when I get back to my classroom each afternoon I am frustrated and depressed.  I would love to hear from other teachers who teach in tiny rooms for some encouragement!

So even though I thought my teaching game was more "on fleek" last week with the larger classroom, my students did horribly on their weekly concept check.  It was like they didn't learn a thing!  I was so disappointed.  This was with both 5th and 6th grade.  I was wondering if they have done the "check out" thing that they usually do after the state test.   I think this week they are realizing that they can't do that anymore and we really do have 3 more months of learning to go.

I am teaching both 5th and 6th grade geometry topics and I forgot how much I LOVE geometry.  We ran out of class time while working on a fun trapezoid problem and I almost cried.  Oh and I had my 5th graders do a cute little poster on triangle names.  They still need to fix them up a little bit but here is an example of a good one.  Let me know if you want the template!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Survived the first round of PARCC!

This week my students took the PBA tests.  I have to say it seemed to go quickly and pretty painlessly despite having a snow day on Thursday!
I was really good about not peeking at their screens, but I was able to get a lot of info out of the monitoring software, I could see who and how many kids skipped questions and I was scared by how quickly some of my students answered questions until I realized that they might have been doing the work on paper and then going back in and entering the answers.
I was really happy to see a lot of bar modeling and KWI charts going on in the scrap papers, hopefully those strategies helped them out.
Some of the negatives I noticed, one of my students forgot how to drag and drop and I couldn't tell her how to do it, therefore she couldn't answer a question on the ELA portion that she knew the answer to.  For the math portion students had different number of questions which confused the heck out of them.  Also for the ELA part some had 3 passages to read and others had 2 passages and a video.  One student asked me, "what if I can't understand what they are saying on the video"  I felt so bad that I couldn't check it out and help him out.

I am happy that I was able to convince my students not to stress about the test because it doesn't mean anything for them, but to take it seriously anyway.  It seems that that is exactly what they did.