Classroom Solutions > 27 posts categorized "Assessment"

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Helping Students Develop a Lifelong Love of Reading

 

Love 2 read We all know that reading is one of the most important skills you can teach a child. It lays the foundation for a child’s success in school and in everyday life. For this reason, one of the most precious gifts we can give our students is a book. Books stir the senses, inspire imagination, and spark a love of reading that will last a lifetime. But how can a book compete in this new age of instant entertainment — with such things as television and video games? Read on as I share ideas to help your students develop a lifelong love of reading despite these distractions.

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Motivating the Unmotivated: Tough Kid Tools That Really Work

Toolbox At some point in your teaching career you will have a "tough kid" in your classroom. You may even have several at the same time. These students send you home exhausted, often in tears, and raise doubts about your career choice. The tough kid changes the dynamic and mood of the room in an instant, and you may find yourself wondering what to expect from minute to minute. The tough kid may come to you with a prior history, with warnings from your colleagues, and with a cornucopia of labels such as "at-risk," "difficult," "attention deficit disorded," or even "lazy." How do you deal with tough kids, and what can you do to restore order to your classroom? Read on for the top five ways to motivate the seemingly unmotivated. 

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Creating a Positive Classroom Climate: "Capturing Kids' Hearts"

"If you have a child's heart, you have his head" - Flip Flippen

DSC00338 On the day I was hired at Randolph Jr/Sr High School as a special education teacher, the principal, Bill Caldwell, informed me that part of my professional development for the year would be to attend a three-day training titled "Capturing Kids' Hearts." The name alone had me hooked, and to hear him speak so passionately made me extremely eager to find out more about it. However, he didn't divulge any more information, other than to bring a personal item that held meaning for me and a lot of Kleenex. Little did I know that the magnitude of those three days would continue on in my teaching years later.

 

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Creating a Professional Learning Community This Fall

DSC00001 The motto of my school district, Randolph Central, is "Learning with passion, innovation, and leadership." This serves as an excellent foundation for my teaching, as well as a reminder of how crucial it is to inspire students with our instruction. A professional learning community (PLC) is a wonderful way to focus on student learning and assess teaching practices. And in these tough economic times, in-house professional development opportunities, like PLCs, are even more attractive. Read on to learn more about creating your own professional learning community.

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Differentiate Your Kindergarten Classroom

Differentiating in KindergartenIt's a fact: every child is unique, and as teachers we know that more than anyone else. So why do we often find ourselves trying to teach every child the same way?

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State Assessments: Multiple-Choice Strategies & Activities

041911iStock_000005780399StndTestFormSometimes I question whether my students are taking a multiple-choice test or a multiple-guess test. By the time the 6th graders get to me, they have had three years of state testing. I worry about the blasé attitudes preteens sometime develop because they have "been there, done that." So how do we motivate our students and prepare them for high-stakes testing? Below are a few reading comprehension strategies and review activities that help our students succeed on the state tests.

Photo copyright Ryan Balderas/iStockphoto.

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Comments: 18

State Assessments: Note-Taking & Writing Strategies

MBlow0411_shutterstock_63405031_girl_writing-2Last week, I received an email from a good friend who shared test-taking tips that she is using in her classroom. The other day, a 6th grader in an unidentified U.S. location wrote, thanking me profusely for the test-taking tips that I had posted on my Web site. She wanted me to know that she is “less nervous to take the exam.” The next email was from a fellow blogger, Renee, who was looking for paired passages to use for state test review. It is evident that teachers and students across the country are in state testing mode. Read on for some of the review strategies I use in my classroom.

Photo copyright Shutterstock/jeka.

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Using Lyrics for Beyond Literal Comprehension

Music FilomenaHoward Gardner suggests that intelligence is not merely being able to read or do mathematical calculations. It encompasses several different components, one of which is music. I like to use music in my classroom to manage the day and to tap into the talents of those students who are high on the musical intelligence spectrum. One way to engage these students in reading is to use lyrics to teach the difference between the literal and beyond literal meaning of texts.  

Photo courtesy of Filomena Scalise.

 

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Comments: 52

Preparing for High Stakes State Testing

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In California, we do our state testing in May, but we begin reviewing and planning for it now. Second grade is the youngest grade to take state tests in California, and we take it very seriously. I hope that you will find some helpful testing tips for students and teachers in this post.

 

 

Photo Credit: Blueberries/iStockphoto

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Children of the Holocaust

IMG_5864 I recently received my February 28, 2011, issue of Time magazine. On the cover was a picture of youths from around the world with the subtitle, “The Generation Changing the World.” In my classroom, we are transitioning from the protests in the Middle East to the Holocaust. After introducing the literature circle books for the unit, I held up the Time issue and Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy and posed the question, “Why would Hitler fear the youth?” The question set my students on fire. The biggest problem of the day was tracking all the books that started flying out of my room. The resources below will help you create an English language arts and social studies integrated unit on the Holocaust.

 

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Analyzing Characters with WALTeR

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One day, I was driving to school, pondering my frustration over the impending state test dates that were approaching, yet my students were still struggling with identifying specific details to support a character trait. It was apparent they needed another approach. They needed a mnemonic device to help them remember the type of details that would help them succeed, so I created WALTeR, a guide for identifying text-based relevant details that BEST support their claim. Walter needed to be memorable, someone they could visualize and remember. (Clip art created with ToonDoo.com by Mary Blow)

 

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Why You Should Become a National Board Certified Teacher

DSC01296Teachers understand that being a lifelong learner is a core responsibility of their profession. Professional development opportunities abound for teachers, some of it very good and some of it, well, not so good. Of all the professional development activities that I have taken part in during my sixteen-year teaching career, the most powerful, rewarding, and informative one was applying for and receiving National Board Teacher Certification (NBTC). It was also the most difficult and challenging one, but in the end, the process greatly informed my practice, and I truly believe it made me a better teacher.

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10 Ways to Be Ready for Parent-Teacher Conferences All Year Long

Parent-Teacher Conferences An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you do the following things all along, you will not have to rush around at conference time.

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The 10/24/7+ Review

Blue brainThe brain stores two kinds of memories, in two different ways. One is spatial/experiential memory. This kind of memory is very easy and automatic. For example, you do not have to memorize the location of each desk in your classroom by doing flashcards. Your brain sees them and makes a mental note of the arrangement of the desks in space. Likewise you don't have to memorize how you felt the time you thought you lost a child on a field trip. You automatically remember the feeling.

The second type of memory is rote memory. This is the type of stuff you must rehearse and memorize to get it to stick. Multiplication tables and state capitals fall into this category. I try to have students experience and visualize vocabulary words to make them more memorable. Read on to see how I review vocabulary words with my students throughout the year to make sure they stick.

This post contains a video demonstration of the word wall review game. Brain image courtesy of clker.com.

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The Reflective Practioner

DSC00820Flashback: It's November 2004. Three months since the obnoxious tone signaling the start of a Miami Elementary school day let forth its first bellow of the year. For me, it also signaled the beginning of a nine-month race in many directions. A race to build rapport with the parents. A race to assess the students. A race to initiate IEPs. A race to schedule conferences. A race to learn new technologies and programs for the classroom. A race to keep the virtual in-box from overflowing. A race that I forgot I was running because I didn't schedule time to think about the race. Never again would I forget to schedule time to think about the race.

 

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Comments: 11

Differentiated Instruction

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Two words that are pounded into every rookie teacher’s head.Two words that are uttered at staff meetings across the globe. Two words that together pull up more than 324,000 results on Google. What are these two words? Differentiated Instruction. 

This blog contains two short video demonstrations of the ideas in action. Photo: Students kinesthetically learning science vocabulary. 

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Comments: 9

Making Connections Using Similes and Metaphors

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Making connections to their learning is absolutely essential for high school students. If the literature has no relevancy, and students cannot envision its use in a contemporary context, interest levels — as well as the learning — drop off significantly. For this reason, it is always fun to find new ways to help students understand figurative language in an up-to-date way.

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Comments: 4

Guidelines and a Guide Dog for Guided Reading

GuidedReading01 In my classroom, guided reading is one of the most important parts of the day. It shows my students that I respect them as individuals, taking into account their own abilities, needs, interests, and learning styles. It facilitates more personal interaction, in a supportive atmosphere where they feel comfortable sharing what they think, making mistakes, asking for help, and absorbing what is being taught. Instead of making me the person who stands at the front of the room and dictates what must be done, guided reading allows me to do what I became a teacher to do: guide.

 

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Comments: 24

Film and Feminist Criticism in the High School Classroom

Film and Feminist 

Millions of teenagers view movies at the theater, on DVDs, or on cable television each day. Teenagers need to be aware of the rhetoric specifically targeting them as a demographic group.

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Comments: 24

Establishing a Middle School Community

Glogster_mblow During the first week of school, my top priority is welcoming the incoming 6th graders into our middle school community. This year, I decided to use an EduGlogster poster, a digital poster, as the ice breaker activity.

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End of Year Assessments

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When it comes to assessments, there are generally two schools of thought. Some feel that tests are primarily for the purpose of assigning a comprehensive grade, while others see them more as ways to guide instruction. Though I feel that both views have merit, I'm more inclined towards the latter. That is not to say that grades and accountability are not important, but it is to say that our focus should be on the continual growth of our kids.

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The Dynamic Duo: Test Prep and Dramatic Productions

School 2008-2009 315
Before getting knee-deep in standardized testing, I spend time with students reviewing critical state standards and benchmarks that will be tested in the coming weeks. I try to vary the method of delivery for these reviews; however, one of the most entertaining for everyone is the incorporation of student-created productions.

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Cut Your Report Card Comment Writing Time in Half

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Does your "To Do" list look like this around report card time? Do you procrastinate or dread writing comments for your students' report cards because they take so long? If you would like to cut down on the time and frustration spent writing comments, take a look at this free program called Teachers Report Assistant. I have included two "how to" videos in this post to get you started.

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Teaching in a Data-Driven Society

IMG_5592 Every day in our lives, we have to face that our society is data-driven. If you think about it, everything is "ruled" by numbers: Social Security numbers, credit card statements, the time we must arrive at work in the morning, and how many minutes are we mandated to teach reading and math. Often, teachers comment that teaching is more void of individuality and creativity than it was ten or twenty years ago.

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Comments: 2

Helping Parents Prepare Their Children for State Assessments

IMG_5549 Every January, our school hosts a standardized test preparation evening for parents of students in grades 3-5. In March, the FCAT (Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test) will be administered to thousands of students in Florida. During this meeting we encourage parents to help prepare their children for their most important and challenging academic task of the year.

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Comments: 11

Preparing Students for State Writing Assessments

IMG_5436 The time may be approaching for your students to take their first State writing assessment, and you may be feeling overwhelmed, out of steam, or anxious. In Florida, it is called the Florida Writes and it's administered to fourth grade students in February. January and February are hectic months in my classroom, yet I always approach this time of year with confidence because I know I can encourage my students to perform well with enriching instruction.

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Comments: 4

Assessing and Setting Student Goals

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It's a magical time of year. As I waved goodbye to my kindergartners in December 2009, I explained to them about this amazing thing that happens over winter break. It's called "winter break magic!" Students always come back from winter break changed in amazing ways. All of a sudden things have clicked for many students. Teachers are excited to see that students really understand the routines and expectations of the classroom. It's wonderful to see!

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The opinions expressed in Classroom Solutions are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Scholastic Inc.