Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"Test" the Season--Math Reflections

This year I find myself in a wonderful predicament. What do I do with nearly 6 weeks before the Math End of Grade test? Typically I have about ONE week that I am not teaching new material before the week of testing. In past years as soon as 4th nine weeks starts, we spend about ½ of our math time on new material and ½ on reviewing old material in the form of released items from NC DPI. Perhaps this is one of the perks that comes from looping with a group of children—all year I knew what I had already taught them in 4th grade and was able to quickly review that material and build off of it for our 5th grade curriculum.

We have many concepts that my students need to spend more time on and some areas that we need to look at for precisely how the concept might show up on the EOG. For example, my students are really good at completing function tables when it is in the basic “look at the table, figure out the rule” form, but questions often describe functions without giving the scaffold of a table—students must create the table themselves in order to be successful in figuring out the pattern and predicting later values. But, how do I keep these six weeks from being nothing but mundane test-prep packets where students do the work and I go over the answers? And, how do I make sure this “test prep” is actually preparing them and helping them become BETTER math students? I came up with two strategies:

One sheet is a tool I created to have students gauge how much they know about the concepts we will be reviewing. We will do this on Mondays for the concepts I plan to review that week. At the end of the week, students will reflect on their understanding of each concept now that we have worked on them more. Here’s an example:

Each day, I also plan to incorporate SMART clickers/Senteos to go over our math homework. Then, I plan to have students analyze the problems they missed, noting whether or not it was because of a mathematical mistake OR lack of understanding the concept/question. Next, students show how they should have solved the problem and decide if they actually get it or still don’t get it. Here’s an example:

 (You can download these forms for FREE on TPT and modify them for your math content.)

I hope that these two reflection strategies will help students gain more control over their knowledge and help them meaningfully correct their mistakes through analysis and explanation (instead of finding out the right answer and just moving on). I am also thinking that I will have students staple these reflections on top of their review work for the week to send home to parents. As I start to realize patterns in students’ mistakes or misunderstandings, I will probably spend a few weeks (or maybe every Friday) with students placed in small groups focused on different topics that target what they need help on. Of course some students will need it all, and I might have them in each review group OR I could prioritize concepts for them focusing more on their confidence than having them try to improve on everything. I might even open it up for students to place themselves into the groups they think they need to be in.

I also plan to incorporate a 10-15 minute game time each day using some of the games we have used throughout the year to allow students to review concepts in a fun way. Have you used the games on DPI? Look through the Weekly Essentials files. The games are ready to go!

I hope at least one of these ideas is helpful to you as you work through “Test the Season!”

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