Students enter silently according to the daily entrance routine. The day before the state exam is filled with much anxiety for my students this year as many are not feeling confident. The changes in the curriculum have left many feeling unsure about their abilities, thus it is supremely important to remain positive and hopeful. It is equally important to find multiple opportunities to show students how much they have grown and learned through-out this year.
Do now assignments are already on their desks. I pull a small group of students into booths; these groups consist of my lowest academic students, the ones I know are feeling extreme anxiety. I work with them on the Do Now asking the following question and giving the following feedback:
Underline the place that you’re rounding to!
Draw an arrow next door (to the right, not the left, a common student error)
The place (which is that again?) asks the neighbor “are you more than four”?
If the neighbor says yes then I add one more
If the neighbor says no then I don’t grow
Copy down the left and the right becomes zero.
Taking time to talk through these problems with students may alleviate some of the anxiety they are feeling and will arm them with strategies they are most likely to remember on some of the major topics in this grade’s curriculum. I would like to work with a limit number of students, ideally no more than 4. While I work this small group in booths, everyone else will be working silently for the first 5 – 7 minutes. If I notice more students struggling, I will invite them to other booth groups led by student leaders. The questioning above will be printed out to hand to my student leaders so that they have detailed expectations for how to help someone understand these problems. These are also practical and specific ways to address MP1.
Once there are 5 minutes left in this section, I will announce the answers and students will have the remaining time to ask each other questions to ensure understanding of the right answer. I will also have two students who finish early and correctly answer these items, show his/her work on the board to facilitate the discussion.
Students will be asked to put away their Do Now and take out 5 sheets of lined paper. Each of these sheets will need to be cut in half and all half-sheets will need to have their names. In the PPT - Final Review, I will show them that the test will be divided into three parts or clusters:
Students are advised to notice the type of questions that show up in each cluster throughout the game. Those problems in the major cluster should stand out to them while they are taking the test. Topics under the additional cluster should not cause them anxiety should they not understand how to solve because they simply will not contribute to the grade in a significant way.
The game is called “Trash the Teacher” because students will be earning “shots” at me in the form of balled up sheets of paper. After selecting and answering each question in the game, students will bring me their half sheet and I will be scoring the answers (and work) while they work on the next question. Students who have the correct answers (and work) will get their sheets back to shoot for points. More details in the closing section.
Slide 4 in the powerpoint is set up so that each cluster links to a separate slide with questions pertaining to that cluster. The linked slides include a matrix of questions categorized by skills or topics. Students are told that any skill or topic labeled with a “II” is more difficult, usually because of the need for multiple steps. I ask for volunteers to select the cluster and question. Most questions will have a time limit of no more than 5 minutes, but I also made exceptions for questions where students needed more time and were motivated to continue trying.
Note: there may be a couple of students feeling anxious about the competition and their academic abilities. If I notice these students struggling I will offer them the opportunity to help me score the answer sheets. Most of these students will jump at this opportunity. Should I students choose to help me score, I will have them come sit at booths and we will “work together” to solve each question displayed in the powerpoint. This way, I am reviewing material in a non-threatening way AND getting help to efficiently score all the sheets.
Papers approved by me or my helper for return to students will be signed and returned to students throughout the game.
Once there are 10 minutes left, I will finish scoring any tickets left and explain the rules for the shots:
This game is a great way to let go of the anxiety, have a bit of fun, and review important topics and skills before three dys of intense state examinations. No homework is assigned.