Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I hate...

I have a weakness. I know it. Everyday I fight it, but I just can't sometimes. Here it is...I got into teaching to teach concepts. I love the exploration lessons that engage students in problem solving and showcase their critical thinking skills. I did not go into teaching with a heated passion for standardized test review, nor did I go into teaching with a strong desire to be asked the same question 15,000 times in a 42 minute period. My students know that a multiple choice test from me means that either myself or a family member is deathly ill....or the Giants are in the Super Bowl and I just can't pull it together to write a thorough test. All of this sounds like a good thing right? At certain times....it is. But what my students do not know is that I dread almost every test and quiz review day.   So my goal has been to find activities that are engaging, provide good practice , and can somehow lessen the mass hysteria known as a room of 28 seventh graders. 

I am strictly anti review packet. The classroom I took over during my first year of teaching left me with students who relied so heavily on these they never learned how to study. I've tried what feels like a million strategies since- with mixed success. One of my favorites is having the students write their own version of the test, complete with answer key. Not only do they get some practice with the concepts, but I get to see what they view as important. I try to sneak the best question or two from the kids' tests on to the actual test....an added bonus for doing good work on the review. 

Cue this wonderful Row Game from Molly Kate at Mathemagical Molly. I adapted it for my Pre-Algebra students. Anytime I heard, "Ms. F, I don't get it!" from Student A,  I would ask Student B if they could tell me A's question. They couldn't? Guess they better work together on it first! This eliminated 98% of the questions and allowed me to move seamlessly from group to group, helping and encouraging. Goodbye gaggle of question-askers, hellooooooo critical thinking and correction of mistakes! 

Anyone have more fun ways to practice that don't make me want to say, "But Mommmm, I don't want to go to school today!"?Any other brilliant ideas for self-checking activities? Happy sharing!

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