Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Testing! Testing!

Teaching to the highest level of student growth requires consistent collection of student data through formal and informal student assessments. This process can be overwhelming at times. Built into the Five Step Lesson Plan (WBT Video Library: 5 Step Lesson Template Program) is a fast and efficient way of assessing your class to determine mastery and need to reteach individually, small group, or even whole class. Helping students be "Prepared" for testing takes practice and modeling in a variety of situations. This year my school uses a daily rotation of leveled academic groups within each grade level to reinforce Math and Language Arts skills. Using the Whole Brain Teaching methods for student engagement and critical thinking, I include the Prove It (WBT Video Library: #506 Prove It!) process in a multiple choice question activity each day to reinforce academic language and problem solving strategies. My students are young and limited in testing experience, so setting up these scenarios is a necessity for creating student confidence and ultimately student success in mandated standards testing. This third quarter of school, our Rotation groups are focusing strongly on Test Simulation during this period, using Released State Test questions in a similar physical environment they will face later. For example, using scratch paper is a new skill in math. Our second graders may not mark in their test booklets because the booklet is actually a scantron, meaning no marks except bubbled answers. There is always the student who is so proud because he didn't "have to use" his scratch paper during the test. Oh, dear! As a teacher, I go through a variety of emotions as I observe students using their critical thinking skills in a deliberate way to solve a set of problems. It is exciting to watch a student's success, but very tough to watch another's lack of. Teacher observations are invaluable for evaluation of individual student needs and lesson design for further instruction. The time is getting closer for "The Tests"! Watch your team! Reach out to your players! They're counting on you!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Interventions for All!! Oh, yeah!!

In my classroom, and I know yours too, there are students each year who struggle greatly in academics and socialization. Meeting these students' needs requires daily diligence, perseverance, and patience as The Daily Plan often requires updates and changes, oft with no notice! As an educator working in a self-contained, regular ed class of 32, the odds were high that there wouldn't be just one or two students requiring an individualized plan. No, in fact I have eleven students who mandate specific Documentation of Interventions and Progress in a District designed folder. What has been so wonderful in the midst of all these folders, is the positive results shown through the use of WBT strategies and techniques. Where previously I would go through a standard short list of interventions, now with WBT the list is more specific and easier to initialize to individual needs. Sitting in Student Study Team, Child Study Team, and IEP meetings, it is not only up-lifting to me to be able to point out and explain the positive results of using WBT, but to also be able to show through collected data that even with students who may have been diagnosed with a specific learning disability or Other Health Impairment, academic and social growth has occurred and is occurring! Identifying students with specific needs is critical, and even more so is what one does to meet IEP, District, and State goals for those students. Each day of instruction is crucial, and using WBT ensures student engagement and promotion of critical thinking skills for ALL learners. Sharing WBT with Resource Specialists, School Psychologists, and Administrators has met with many positive responses and requests for more information. Everyone grows with WBT!! Oh, yeah!!!