Friday, September 6, 2013

testing and progress

We have just completed two consecutive four day weeks, mostly filled with district testing. Earlier this week we did review the parts of a book and have a very short practice activity to go along with the review. Next week we'll practice some more and eventually have a short assessment that the students will complete, with partners on the computer while using their notes.

This week I also shared with the students the emphasis on quality work--practice, process, and product--so that the time we are able to spend, either together or independently, is worthwhile. I hate deadlines, but unfortunately they are a part of life. As a teacher, I must institute deadlines for when assignments are due for the students, but I can be flexible. I would rather a student continue to work on an assignment, than turn in an incomplete assignment. I would rather a student ask for assistance when working through an assignment, than turn in a poorly completed one based on lack of understanding. All of this stems from my preference that students would be more motivated by the learning opportunities and growth that can take place over the course of a year, rather than the grades a student will earn in class.

I know that's an idealist's romantic dreams, but I try to live out those dreams in the classroom.

Similarly connected to that idea, at least in my mind, is the opportunity for revisions, especially with writing. When students complete a writing assignment, especially one during which we worked through a process, I am always open to students revising their work after I have scored the writing. Conferencing is an important part of the writing process, and even though that should occur several times before a piece of writing is turned in for a score, still some students end up surprised and disappointed by scores received. In those situations, I can allow for revisions to be made to the piece of writing, and I encourage those revisions. I must admit though that I suffer from looming deadlines as well, including dates when mid-quarter and quarter grades are due. So if a student wants their grades to reflect the revision, then they must meet the deadlines set for me as well.

I'm looking forward to the coming weeks of exploring different topics with the articles of the week, along with reviewing word, sentence, and paragraph level elements of writing. Please let me know if you have questions or concerns.

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