Over the past two days students have been indulged in lessons that require them to learn how expectations could provide safe and orderly school environments this upcoming school year. In this lesson students will begin to understand the expectations that 8th grade Language Arts has in the grammar strand of Common Core Standards. I know testing is not FUN for students but it is a GREAT way for me to assess learning prior to the real teaching starting in the upcoming weeks.
To hook students into today's lesson, the following sentence starter will be posted on the whiteboard
“As I walked into Language Arts class my teacher handed me a test and I ...”
I ask students to respond to this prompt independently. Providing students will this prompt will allow them to practice their writing skills as well as uncover the anxieties that stem from taking standardized tests. As students write their responses, I walk around the room to glance at words written on various papers. Although all students will not want to share their opinions, I will allow students to share some responses prior to moving into the goals and objectives of the test. See student response to taking test now!
Despite the moans and groans from students about the test, I briefly share that the test will allow all of us to see what grammar concepts are known prior to each being taught in detail. Since this is the second year of Common Core State Standards, my students have not had grammar since elementary school. Because of this lack of experience, students will struggle with the advance concepts being asked on the test.
The assessment moves students from the foundation of the eight parts of speech to sentence formation and development. The cognitive thinking from my students moves them from identifying words to understanding the reliance on punctuation, phrases and clauses to create effective sentence types.
To create calmness in the atmosphere, I go over the rules that I have for taking this assessment. Because this is the first test students will take in the year, I want to reduce the tension(s) that are created with test-taking. My rules are SIMPLE!
I will hand students a copy of A.Final.Pretest.ELA.8th.2013. As students take the test independently, I walk around answering questions that students may have about the test. Because this is a pre-test, I will only answer basic grammar questions from students. I anticipate that my students will struggle with the questions on active and passive voice, clause, participial, and verbals.
I will constantly remind students throughout this test that it is just an indicator of where they are with grammar. Also, I will encourage them to answer each question to the best of their ability. The pretest will provide the data needed to guide the time and resources used to teach grammar concepts each quarter of the school year. With the test results, I will know where to start students in learning grammar and how much outside class time will be spent doing grammar handouts for homework. View my pre-assessment reflection video to hear more about the strengths and weaknesses of students from the test.