Since I’ve been an adult, I’ve always followed the notion that proper planning prevents poor performances. I began class by letting students know that we won’t be scrambling around or making any last ditch efforts to prepare because we’ve prepared all year to be proficient readers and writers. As the AIMS (Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards) test approaches, I decided to give the students a chance to gain some confidence. Before we participated in the practice test activity, we spoke about test anxiety as well as a few other concerns about the upcoming test. I let the kids know to relax, and that they should try their best. I also let them know that I have prepared them for the many things throughout the entire year, and the AIMS Reading/Writing Test is one of them. Prior to this activity, we have done several things during the year to specifically prepare for taking the state standardized test – AIMS Buckle Down, Galileo Benchmark Assessments, Galileo Interventions/Quizzes, Reading Comprehension Worksheets, etc-etc. I continued to give them a few encouraging words about preparation, and I opened the floor back up for questions, comments, and/or concerns…
I digress, we took the practice AIMS/Reading Test that ADE (Arizona Department of Education) provided. You can view it [here]. The material was rather dated, but the object of the activity was to give them a good idea as to what type of questions would be on the test. Once the students completed the practice test, we came back together for a comprehension check as well as test taking tips to answering the previously mentioned questions.
We broached this problem once again during the 4th Quarter when I gave students a Roots Letter Writing Activity in letter format. As one of the assignment requirements, I stipulated that they must sign their name at the end of the letter. I found it puzzling that a good portion of the 7th Graders weren’t taught to write in cursive, or they had forgotten how. To their credit, they picked up on it in a matter of less than 30 minutes. Did I mention these kids are resoundingly awesome? I’ve read multiple articles on various news outlets saying there isn’t a need to emphasize cursive writing anymore. I’ve also had discussions with other educators about the matter. Personally, I see both points of view. I think we are in an information age where emphasis doesn’t necessarily need to be placed solely on penmanship. That being said, we are also in an age where everybody doesn’t have access to a computer inside the classroom or at home, so penmanship is still pretty important – print and cursive. The overall point of communicating your intelligence in as many formats as possible should always be valued whether it be on a computer, in print, in cursive, in pen, in pencil, or crayon;]
Language Arts/Writing classes will work on (7.SL.1) & (7.SL.5) common core speaking/listening standards with a view & respond about the Michael Dunn/Jordan Davis case. The view & respond will be an article via CNN, “Michael Dunn convicted of attempted murder; hung jury on murder in ‘loud music’ trial.” While reading this news story, students will be actively reading by writing down the 5W’s (who, what, where, when, and why. That handout can be viewed [here]. The class will then move to the viewing portion by watching this video via ABC News [here]. Students will be prompted to actively watch by using the 5W’s (who, what, where, when, and why). The classroom will then open up for discussion. Students will use their 5W’s observations to help guide this discussion.
This is a very serious topic. That being said, I believe the students will handle this accordingly as my students have done in the past. One of my main objectives with this type of view and respond is to engage, effectively, in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) on topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own point(s) of views clearly. I hope to reach that outcome through the multimedia source presented as well as the news story that will be handout with guided prompts for the students. Continue reading →