For the past few years, we have dedicated about three weeks, post-state-mandated assessments, to preparing our students in the Standard (grade-level) courses for a two-day, two-part cumulative assessment. As any teacher knows, the mere description of this sort of assessment sends shock waves of terror into the hearts of 7th graders, so we are constantly rethinking our approach to this year-end review session.
In the past…
In past years, the review cycle we had set up (take a Skill Assessment, review it, move on) did not lead to good results. Neither did the fact we had put links to games on sites like Math Playground into the review materials, so most review days devolved into marathon sessions of low-level skill practice.
Changes for 2018
This year, we took a different approach by combining our “By the end of class….” documents with the ASSISTments program.
The results were measurably different. No more epic game sessions, very few failing students, and new opportunities to strengthen weaknesses in content that became clear from the review-assess-retake cycle we had established. While it may look like a cosmetic change, reframing the two days of review with a “By the end of class” document was more than just cosmetic.
These are some of the benefits we saw in the shift:
- Using and writing a “By the end of class” sheet for every topic forced us as teachers to think about and verbalize the goal of each section of the review content.
- We also needed to get very organized about resources–with only two days per topic, the material needed to be targeted.
- By starting each “By the end of class” sheet with a description of the content and essential question, we tried to empower students to be thinking about their current level of understanding in relation to the end goal. How would they use their time to be prepared?
- Finally, each document allowed us to connect the disparate pieces–teacher-created self-assessment, Homework options, ASSISTments, etc.–under the over-arching essential question for each topic.