Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Benchmark Tests

I'm sitting here scratching my head. Today was a good day all told. My twins didn't test my patience, my students (for the most part) did their best work and all went well.

Except I cannot figure out the test. We took our math benchmark. It was suppose to cover double digit addition and subtraction (with regrouping), area, non-standard units of measure, length (when given something to measure with like 1cm blocks), money and paired additive lists.

I spent some time on everything. (Less on Area because I figured (and rightly so) that at this age they're going to draw in the squares and the kids will just have to count it). But I spent the MOST of this six weeks on Addition and Subtraction. When I saw last years test it covered everything, but hit the adding and subtraction the hardest. I was feeling REALLY good about how my students would do, and... then this test came.

Bless their hearts, the students that really focused and read the directions and questions did JUST FINE. I'm the kind of teacher that when things don't go well for my students I tend to blame myself, but some of the mistakes I'm thinking to myself- what else could I have done? One little girl that struggled though Absolutely everything in math this six weeks aced the test. How? Because she PAID ATTENTION to the questions. This was the first time the test was not read aloud to the students and some of them were REALLY hurt by this. Others... I just don't know.

I could have spent more time on things, I really could have. But those kids who had it, they HAD it. And it was a majority that did have it. 1 student failed because he refused to check his answers and actually do the work. (I hate to blame it on him, but when I point at a question and ask him to show his work and he will NOT do it then what room do I have to say otherwise? He knows how to do the math, but if you won't actually do the calculations you're going to fail.) Another is an English Language Learner who probably would have aced the test if it had been read to him. Another is a new student as of two weeks ago. She'd never taken a test like this before. My last student that did not do well was able to explain her work in words when talking to me, but when it came to getting the right answer just didn't follow that same line of reasoning. (I'm not going to go into it for testing confidentiality but...) As for my last student... I have no idea.

I just... don't understand. If the students paid attention to the questions asked, they got it. If they didn't... they didn't. I feel like I should be frustrated because of that 1/4 (basically) of my class that got below a C. But... I don't know. One question I absolutely didn't teach them. Then again, none of my materials that I was teaching from went into that depth so I honestly didn't have any chance of being able to teach that to them. Apparently I'm suppose to have been able to know that anyway... but I didn't. I even asked my teacher what else I should teach on the topic and she gave suggestions that I followed.

How should I feel? Am I allowed to beat myself up about this, or should I just shrug my shoulders, reteach that one thing that I didn't teach before and move on? I mean, I feel like I ought to be able to beat myself up at least a little bit.

I guess I need to plan for tomorrow. I don't know what benchmark they have in the morning (It's either reading, writing, science or social studies). So I'm not sure how long it'll take.

I hate feeling confused. x.x I love my children. They deserve the best education that I can give them, and thank goodness that 3/4 of them did read the questions and pay attention. They exceeded what I expected of them (just because I prepared them for a test they didn't get. I'm glad they did get the content when I taught it and were able to take it another step farther.) I'm really, really, really proud of them altogether. Today could have been crazy (because my teacher was gone) but they really did their best and I cannot be more proud of them.

There, that's the emotion I'll feel. Pride in those kids who put their all into the test.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

This week is going to be hard. We've got benchmark tests and I have no idea how long they're going to take. I'm just not sure what's going on this week.

I know we've got StoryBook Opera at some point, and I need to cover Robert Fulton, and multiplication by 10s, but beyond that there doesn't seem like much. Just do some reading I guess....

*lesigh....* Planning is so important, and I always feel really anxious when I don't feel like I've done enough planning to really make it worthwhile.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Two Days, one Suspension

The last two days have been pretty horrible. I've been trying to teach subtraction with regrouping. Some of my students have done very well, they've gotten it, been able to explain it, so on and so forth. However, a handful of them are struggling badly. One little girl is writing a one above the ten she is taking away, rather than one less then that number. Another is refusing to see which number is less. The first is probably getting confusing information from home, the other is playing me. She's acting frustrated, and so I try to help, bu won't listen. She's getting the attention she wants. I'm going to stop giving it to her. However, what if she does struggle? What do I do then?

Anyway. Mrs Howard has been out of the room the last two mornings. First she was doing some acceleration with the GT children,second she had to take her son to the doctors. The first day was... alright. Three students made life difficult, and finally I had to just stop. The next day was completly messed up. I'd planed the day this way:
7:45-8:00 Welcome
8:00-8:15 Annoucements
8:15-9:15 Ms. Longoria or Math
9:15-10:30 Walk for Heart
10:30-11:15 Math
11:15-11:30 Read Aloud
11:30-12:15 Lunch
12:15-1:15 Social Studies
1:15-2:45 Specials.

What actually happened was this:
7:45-8:00 Welcome
8:00-8:15 Announcements
8:15-8:25 Math then we got an announcement that Ms. Longoria WAS teaching so...
8:25-9:20 Ms. Longoria
9:20-9:35 Waiting for the Walk to Start
9:35-10:20 Walking. In this time there was a student who I was unable to get to walk, obey my requests, stand where I asked him to (I had to move him because he hit his brother and was not allowed to be near the boy he wanted to be par that boy's mother's request) so as we walked I handed him to the nearest administrator. He stayed with her though the whole walk.
10:20-10:30 Drinks
10:30-11:00 Library time
11:00-11:20 Bathroom/Drinks/Transition to the classroom
11:20-11:30 Read Aloud
11:30-12:15 Lunch- During this time the administrator I turned my student over came to inform me that he was getting suspended for three days and that I needed to get some work for him. Thankfully, I had a para I could hand the kids off to while I took care of that.
12:15-1:15 Ms. Howard was back for this, though she took three of my struggling students to work with them. The rest f them worked on their MLK books.
1:15-1:25 Transition to Specials, only to find out that specials were halved for the day so they didn't have to be there till 2:00.
1:25-1:55 Finish MLK books.
1:55-2:00 Go to specials, to find they don't start till 2:05
2:05-2:45 Specials - Ms. Howard and I went to retrieve test scores for them to go home with the students.
2:45-3:20 Dismissal

When we look back, was there really any instruction/ practice time? I don't think so. I really do not think so at all. I had to be very flexible.

I'm not sure if ANYTHING went well. We're going to give up on Subtraction because enough of them have the basics. I hope they're alright! I'm also not sure what I could have done to keep my boy from being suspended. I couldn't deal with him and everyone else in the classroom at the same time.

Right now I feel like I'm in the middle of a war zone. They're struggling to see me as a disciplinarian, because Ms. Howard has always been that. I think in their eyes I'm not allowed to make decisions like that and they don't like having to change their thinking. I need to be more structured about how I discipline.

All in all, this week has left me fairly flat. I'm not happy to be here. Only little things are keeping me going. Like when Ang. made me a bowtie out of tissues and I wore it during dismissal.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I've taught every day since I last posted, and all the reflecting is really wearing me down. I reflect in my head and out loud with anyone who'll talk to me (here is where I love my fiance and the woman I'm living with), but writing takes a lot of energy I don't have at the end of the day.

Anyway, I'm going to try to reflect as a whole.

Things that have gone well-
To-With-By has worked well.
Stickers work well so long as I remember to give them.
Time limits on doing things.
Having them work with their elbow partner
Moving over to Aa. so that when he speaks he can speak softly but still answer.
Let Aa sit behind and watch so he'll be still and polite.
Taking Mal. aside to talk to her and not calling on her when she doesn't know the answer.
Making a schedule on the board. I get through things faster!

Things that need help-
Enforcing consequences to actions after I have told them the consequence.
Stating my objectives.
Finding reading material for the kids.

I just had a stroke of brilliance. Poetry. Poetry-Fluency. Fluency-Poetry. Kids time themselves, I can totally do that.

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