Note: A student told me I had no right to write about this subject. I asked her if she had read my book about IEPs. If you have the same concern I welcome you to read my Best Seller, https://www.createspace.com/5309922
Today was all about testing for Biology and Earth Science. Open Book!
In many, but not all, cases I was able to work with the students to get high grades in the 90s and many aced the tests with 100s.
Unfortunately, there were students who typically score in the 40s, 50s and 60s who continued this today; in almost every case these kids thought they did really well. The Special Ed teacher in the room read the test aloud. This may have helped but the end result was still Fs.
These kids will all be able to retest but the test will be administered the same way and the results will be similar.
The higher grades…
There were a group of kids who aced the tests who are great test takers. Many of the kids, however, had 5 to 10 mistakes which lowered their grades as much as 25 points. For these kids I erased their incorrect answers and asked them to try again. Why?
I am a firm believer that testing is not always the best way of knowing how well a student understands material. The students were never given a chance to do this in prior testing teachers. They were not exactly sure what I was allowing them to do since all I told them in advance was to make sure they use pencils when writing the answers.
When they went back to their desks and reopened their books there was an obvious “spark” of added excitement and interest in finding the right answers. I was convinced without any doubt that the “spark” created a new interest in the material. I did not tell them the correct answers. This is still something they had to find out on their own!
Their new scores were as high as 100. You might ask if this is fair? I think it is since they still do the work and I was able to achieve my number one goal of nurturing the students.
The bad test takers…
I remember teaching my children when they were little. They learned the word Apple not because I spelled out the word apple or talked to them about a word. They learned the word Apple by associating it with a picture of an apple.
This makes me wonder if creating a testing system which would have photographs with questions. I am making the assumption of course that students with autism or other health impaired diagnosis, or simply students who are bad test takers, would do better if tests included associative visuals.
Please chime in.
Last week took me to 3 schools.
April 11th Monday – Washington High School
April 12th – 14th Tuesday thru Thursday – Shepherdstown Middle School
April 15th Friday – T.A. Lowery Elementary School
Monday’s job came by robocall at 5:45 in the morning. I spent the morning at WHS subbing for a Special Education teacher. Nothing special took place other than having the opportunity to work with Steven Lee one of WHS’s best Special Needs Aids.
The next 3 days were at what is becoming my most frequented school, Shepherdstown Middle. I subbed for Mr. Holmes’ Business Education, aka Computer Lab. I had students from 6th thru 8th grade, many of which I had subbed for in earlier visits to SMS. Great time. Would be great to do this one again, should I be fortunate to get the invite. Mr. Holmes is the SMS Football Coach.
On Friday I was given an opportunity to return to T.A. Lowery Elementary. This visit was with a wonderful 1st Grade Class. It was also really great seeing the kids I had subbed for earlier in the hall ways, all of which remembered me as I did them. Like a small reunion.
Whenever I go into a job I am hopeful that the teacher is well organized. All teachers are required to have Lesson Plans but there are Lesson Plans and there are Lesson Plans. (Sound repetitive?)
A basic lesson plan can be simple journal entries in a Common Core calendar. Unless the teacher also leaves print outs/hand outs to work on these Lesson Plans require a lot of intuition from the sub. I do like a challenge but this is completely UNFAIR to do to a substitute.
So, what is preferable?
When I arrived at North Jefferson Elementary School this past Wednesday morning I was there to substitute for a Special Education teacher. She had classes in her own room where she had to go and get students from various 4th and 5th grade rooms and there were classes she went to as a co-teacher.
When I arrived at the school she was there to guide me through what she left me for the day. Aside from the 1 page schedule which included times, classes and room numbers she had what really made me happy… As you can see in the picture above, she had handouts, answer keys labeled for each class along with notes as to what she hoped I could accomplish with the students.
I was told, when I first became a substitute, that they just want to be sure that I can engage and nurture the kids but what I actually get done is not that important. I remember this every time I enter a school and sign in for the daily job.
BUT WHEN A TEACHER GOES TO THESE LENGTHS TO HELP ME, I want to do everything I can to get done what she/he asks.
I spent the day at one of my favorite schools, Shepherdstown Middle School. OK, I admit I love all the schools I teach in, but SMS is closer to my heart since my oldest son went their part time and many of the current 6th graders grew up with my daughter.
I was subbing for a Special Education teacher who teaches various subjects to a small group of kids with 7th Grade English/Language Arts (LD) and another for 6th Grade Math (LD). The rest of the day she co-teaches in mainstream 8th Grade Science, 8th Grade Math and 8th Grade English/Language Arts.
Today, being the last day before Spring Break, they decided to modify the schedule as if it was a 2-hour delay so most classes were only 30 minutes long. At the end of the day, there was a basketball game between the students and teachers to raise money for the American Cancer Society.
The teachers won by 1 point on a last second 3-pointer by the basketball coach.
DAILY SPECIAL – In my 6th Grade LD Math class one of the students finished his assignment way ahead of the rest. They were working on 2 digit subtraction requiring borrowing. Most of the kids just could not get it. This one boy approached me and asked if he could help his fellow students. I gave him access to the Smart Board and he conducted a 20 minute interactive lesson with his fellow students and I swear at least 2 of them understood how to do the problems after his help. The most amazing thing is that this particular young man is one of those kids who is constantly getting in trouble. Before I left the school for the day I filled out a card for him to be considered for what is called the Hoop Award for going out of his way for the school community.
PROOF POSITIVE that you need to give kids a chance to prove themselves, even the trouble makers.
I took a 2-day job what I thought was going to be teaching 2nd graders at North Jefferson Elementary School in Kearneysville, WV. I had taught at the school two times in my first month of subbing, once for 4th Grade and 6 days (multiple day job) for 1st Grade, and knew many of the kids and staff.
What I did not know was that I was being hired to be a floater.
When I arrived I met with the Principal who gave me a schedule for today, Monday 21 March. She explained that a special trainer was visiting the school today and tomorrow and that teachers would need cover from anywhere from 1 to 2 hours. I was 1 of 3 floaters who were hired at the school today.
My schedule for the 1st Day was:
0900 – 1000 5th Grade
10:15 – 11:15 2nd Grade
11:30 – 12:00 Lunch Room Monitor
12:00 – 12:30 Lunch
12:30 – 13:30 1st Grade
13:30 – 15:45 Autism Room
Special Notes about this Special Day!
5th Grade was a nice group of kids but it was actually a short time since they went to Library not long after I started so I was free most of the hour.
2nd Grade had a special participant named Irene.
Lunch was unbelievable. Wish I took pictures so you could see how amazing this was.
1st Grade was also fun but the most wonderful experience of all was spending the end of the day in the Autism Room. I have had minimal experience with Autistic kids in the past but this small group was a fantastic experience.
DAILY SPECIAL – I always try to learn something when I substitute teach which I did not know before. – BAMBI was a boy. I never watched the movie and always thought Bambi was a girl. Kind of silly but a great way to break the ice with a BD kid.