February 23, 2008

Just the Usual Mess

Life in my classroom and with a student teacher has been a little hectic. We started off the quarter with in interim test. Then we had a writing proficiency boot camp in the second week, followed by the state writing assessment in the third week. As you can imagine, good for my student teacher to see how testing takes over our lives at times, but there wasn't a lot she could do. So, she spent a large chunk of time planning her Anne Frank unit.

Our team is also working on a big project this quarter, so we had to plan when to squeeze research in along side Anne Frank. It's a bit awkward, but we always have more than one thing going on, and the beginning of instruction for research strategies was to begin last week, around the middle of the play.

Was. Yes, then the administration threw a big monkey wrench in the middle of everyone's lives by telling us that our big test--the CRTs--would not be the first week of April. There had been some sort of screw up at the state level, and the test had to be given much earlier. How much earlier? We're starting on Monday.

What would life be like in your school if the big AYP-determining test had been moved up five weeks, and that date was merely two weeks away?

Thank goodness I'm not a math teacher.

I never planned to spend a lot of time cramming for the test in my classroom because my lessons are aligned with the standards, and students are ready or they are not. I did plan to go through some practice test questions and reiterate some reading strategies, much like I did for the writing exam, and I planned to spend time doing that during the week before the test. (The students also have differentiated skills practice from one of our online programs for homework--it puts it more on their shoulders!).)

Out with the project. In with review.

And in the meanwhile, the social studies teacher asked if I could review works cited information with the students, which is a concept had pushed back after until after testing was over. The big team project we're doing is originating from the foreign language classes, and I'd asked those teacher to push back their project start date because of testing, but the social studies teacher had already assigned her big quarter project at the beginning of the quarter before the test was rescheduled.

Part of me wanted to tell her what to with her reviewing of the works cited...but you know I'm there for the kids. I stepped in one day and presented a quick PowerPoint to the students where I basically told them to not make it harder than it really was, where to look the MLA citation guidelines, and to use a citation machine. Use the resources and tools available rather than faking it--for crying out loud! It may have a been a pointless lecture. I gave them nothing to practice. I have nothing to check for understanding. It's was basically, "Here's information you need right NOW. Go! Do!" I'll check them in a few weeks to see if any of it stuck when we get to the actual research unit.

Or actually, I'll encourage the student teacher to do so.

As you can imagine, it's been difficult giving up complete control to the student teacher. At this time, it might have been a little irresponsible of me, though. I am out of the room more than I am in these days, but the worrying is not on her shoulders yet.

What I miss in my classroom is a little continuity. A little flow. It's been months since I felt like my classroom wasn't a three-ring circus.

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