Thursday, April 2, 2009

Do or Die

Well, it is AIMS week here in Arizona (our state standardized test). The kids are doing their best, and I'm proctoring with the best of them. Actually, I take that back. The best of them would walk around and monitor the entire 3 hour testing block. I walk around every half hour or so and give anyone the evil eye who dares make any sound outside of breathing, writing, erasing or thinking. It's effective for most kids. 

I have learned a few things about these tests in my past 4 years of teaching. 1): Bribe them, when necessary. Since I'm required by law to read the exact same test directions for all 8 sections of the test, the kids get tired of hearing me say it and I get tired of hearing me say it. However, I get even MORE tired of hearing them say, "Why do you have to read it again?? We know what it says! Just let us start!" So, I told them that whoever could go the whole week without saying this got candy. :-) I know, Mom, I shouldn't reward with candy, but I can only give out so many free homework passes :-) It's saving my sanity, and by proxy, their lives, so it's all good in my mind. 

2) Get as much done as is physically possible during the first 30 minutes of each test, because that's when the kids are most focused (i.e., no one's done yet.) After that, it's hit or miss, between getting up to get someone something, checking to see who's done, telling someone in a nearly silent whisper that they are not the only person in the room and they need to shut their mouths, etc. So today, I set up 15 laptops with Google Earth during the first hour. After that, I started collecting notes that got passed, paper airplanes, etc. 

3) Remind them that it is important to their teachers, parents, and should be important to themselves that they do the best they can on it. I learned this last year in one of my master's classes, when I read about a study where that was the only difference between 2 groups of kids, that the teachers reiterated the importance of this topic before they took the test. The group that was reminded did better. That's an easy enough strategy to implement :-) 

4) Tests are NOT allowed on the floor. If they are on the floor, the teacher collecting them MIGHT step on part of it while picking it up and rip it and then have to re-bubble/re-write half your test for you and that is NOT what the teacher wants to do!!!!!! 

Today was Day 4 of testing and the kids are starting to wear down. Yesterday they flew through both parts of the test, which makes me very nervous, so I told them to take their time today. (They don't realize how lucky they are to have an un-timed test.) They all burst out, "But it was easy!! It was easier than the Galileo! We just knew all the things because you taught it to us!!" Yay!!!!!! Warm fuzzy for me :-) Even though I hate to teach to the test, I really, really, really don't want my kids to get to this super-big test and not have a clue what they're looking at or how to solve problems. So, I'm not sure if that makes me a good teacher, but at least my kids don't feel too bad about the test, so far. We'll see how that applies to their test scores though... 


John Spencer said...

I read the various directions in different accents. It's been a blast!

Dierdre said...

That is awesome, you rock! :-) I wish I was that good.