Hey friends! I have been MIA. Some people say that stands for Missing in Action. I think it means Man, I’m Awful. I left you all hanging for THREE DAYS.
Let’s see what I’ve been up to.
Thursday — Hmmm. I can’t recall.
Friday — Wine Trolley (more on that tomorrow)
Saturday — Recover from Wine Trolley
In the meantime, I’ve been doing some stuff on my to-do list. In that effort, my “office” has been taken over with school stuff. I say my “office” loosely because it houses the treadmill and my husband’s desk and a futon. A fancy futon, but a futon nonetheless. (Okay, it’s not that fancy. I bought it at Target for $99 and it’s black plush velvet suede or some such material. And when my five year old nephew slept on it–because I got it for him–for the first time, he said, “This is hard.” He only sleeps there twice a year and I think he’s lucky to have it. When I was five, I slept in a sleeping bag on the floor of wherever I was visiting. No one bought me a rock to sleep on.)
Anyways, the “office” is a mess now. But I’m crossing stuff off my list and that’s all that matters.
One thing I finally finished were my Math Fluency Assessments. Doesn’t that sound fancy? That’s thanks to Hadar. I think my original title was Math Stuff or Math Is Hard So Let’s Put It On The Parents, but Hadar polished it a bit for me.
Anywho, here’s how this started.
For 15 years or so, I gave math timed tests. Consider them Mad Minute tests or Compucat or Tests that are Timed. In the beginning, I had parent volunteers grade them for me and keep track of them.
And then we had some drama. This parent told another parent that this student was ONLY ON LEVEL SUCH AND SUCH and this other parent spread that around (because let’s get real, it’s first grade and these tests determine whether or not kids get accepted into college. Or the popular group.) . . . and then the mother of the struggling student found out and she cried. To me. While my kids were in the class. For real.
There, there, I said. There, there.
But later, I was called into the principal’s office and I was told that all operations must cease. I could no longer have the parents grade the tests for me.
I tried to have upper grade students do it for me, but they made some mistakes. Which made me look like I don’t know how to add and subtract. I do! Especially single digit numbers. It’s only when they get to doubles that I begin to struggle . . .
So I was left to grade them.
It was okay. I did it. I’m a good teacher. This clearly shows how great I am.
But then I got 32 kids. (Truthfully, I got 31 and then last year I started with 31 and ended with 29. I scared a couple of them.) People, I couldn’t keep up on those tests to save my life. I had my upper grade helpers do it sometimes and it was . . . sort of helpful. But not really. Because then I had to check what they did . . .
SO! I came up with a different solution. I’m a thinker, you know.
We have a Sight Word Program at my school in which the kids take home a list to practice . . . they return it when they’re ready to be tested. My upper graders do this for me. It basically runs itself.
I created a Math Program in the same way! There are 26 levels (sequential, incremental, choose a buzz word of your choice), answer keys, flashcards, certificates, a note to parents, and student grids. Bottom line: students practice their math fluency at home, return the level when they are ready to be tested, meet with an upper grade student one-on-one (or in your lucky case, a parent volunteer) and are quizzed on the equations. Rather than writing the answer down, the students orally state them. As in, the kids actually have it memorized.
I don’t know about you, but during Timed Tests in my class, all I would hear for the entire minute were pencils being dropped on desks, scrambled to be picked up, and dropped again. Click clack. Click clack. They were dropping their pencil to use their fingers to count. They didn’t have any fluency at all. It became more of “How fast can you count?” than actual memorization. I’m hoping this program will combat that!
Do I sound holier than thou?
Clear throat. I shouldn’t. Because, in all honesty, I’m just super excited to never grade another timed test as long as we both shall live.
I also think I’m going to get the same results. Whether timed in class, or practicing at home, I think the kids who do well will continue to do well and the kids who don’t, won’t. Shoot. That may have come out wrong. Um, the kids who struggle will probably continue to . . . hmmm. Never mind. In either format, the kids are supposed to be practicing at home. It’s part of their homework. So we’ll see. I’m in a school where the parents are pretty competitive so I think I’m going to get a lot of tests back. (That’s how it is with my Sight Word Program)
I made the flashcards for my kids who need a visual. My helpers will flash the cards at the student being tested and he/she will orally state the answer. (Before laminating, I wrote the answer on the back of the flashcard lightly in pencil.)
I made the answer keys for those kids who don’t need a visual. That way, my helper can just pull out the answer key and read the equations that way.
To sum it up, I’m now sick of this. It took me FOREVER. My brain was hurting after awhile. And then I had trouble with how big the file was. Thanks to Kelley at Teacher Idea Factory – she totally saved my life and taught me a new trick! Thank you!
Click on the pics to go check it out at TpT.
Leave a comment and I’ll have a random drawing to give this away to 3 people. I’ll let you know all about it tomorrow . . . along with the Wine Trolley. And yes, it’s exactly how it sounds. A trolley. With wine.