River Deep, Mountain High

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
May 10 2012

Testing 1, 2, 3!

Our state testing cycle, the MCT2 (Mississippi Curriculum Test 2nd Edition), is officially over! Not including the test for my class, the 60-question 8th grade science test taken last week, these three multiple-choice tests consisted of 43 language questions, 40 writing questions, and 60 math questions. Unsurprisingly, students struggle most with long reading passages; at the same time, they do best on math problems in part because they can use a calculator, which gives them an extra tool (crutch?)  and a big confidence boost. Since they are untimed, the tests can theoretically take forever, but they have a two-hour suggested time limit. The students I proctored for took nearly three hours on reading, two-and-one-half on writing, and around two hours on the math section. Oh, I neglected to mention, teachers are expected to walk around the classroom the entire time! No need to go to the gym this week! Next year, my school should provide pedometers to each teacher and have a competition to see who logs the highest mileage.

Compared to last year, I think my students were more ready for the various tests and took them more seriously. I proctored for the 21 students in my 5th period and they all showed up each day and no one had to be written up.  Granted, two students struggled mightily to stay awake, but it’s been that way the entire year. From Sausage biscuits and oatmeal cream pies to today’s mini crunch bars in honor of “crunch time,” we did a good job of getting their minds off hunger and other potential concerns.

"Don't Test Me, Bro"

Before today’s testing, my colleague and I got the kids hyped by doing some dances and having them rap a bit. I also wrote a quick little rhyme to put their minds at ease; it was really cool to hear them sing it (to the tune of Beez in the Trap by Nicki Minaj)

I am advanced and this test ain’t nothin’

I listened to my teachers, so I did learn somethin’

I breeze through the test

Breeze, breeze through the test

I breeze through the test

Breeze, breeze through the test

After testing was over I got to see the relaxed, youthful side of kids at play. I love kids who can entertain themselves. As an introvert, I think it is a sign of intelligence when you can keep yourself entertained. Unfortunately, many of my students aren’t very good at this but by giving them options throughout the year following unit tests, they’ve improved their ability to quietly engage in an individual activity following testing. It really was a sight to see: six kids playing games on the computers, five kids drawing pictures, four kids listening to music, three kids trying to beat my high scores on the iPad, two pretending to be a science teacher, and one talking to me about why he can’t seem to behave himself for five minutes! This level of engagement would have been chaos last year since I didn’t have any classroom computers or an iPad, my markers had been stolen by this point, no one wanted to be science teacher, and I had seven additional children. What a difference a year makes!

The upcoming ten days will be interesting. The kids are mostly checked out and will revolt if I try to teach too much but we have to keep them engaged for the next two weeks (movies don’t count). Last year, I taught some lessons about new technologies, but we primary focused on flooding and levee design since my town was a few feet away from being wiped out by the mighty Mississippi River. This year, I’d like to incorporate some lessons on character and leadership, but I need to plan carefully for them to see the activities as fun rather than busy work. At the same time, I’m planning to have them design their own cell phone as part of a competition. I may even have them design their own school, but that might be a stretch!

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    Remove Barriers, Raise the Bar

    Mississippi Delta
    Middle School

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