Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Quick Check!

Monitoring student progress is an everyday, ongoing process in my classroom.   A short three to five question assessment is usually all I need to get a snapshot of the level of understanding on a given standard.  My students use our Quick Check form to record their work for these mini assessments.

QuickCheck form

Most of my Math Quick Checks are done first thing in morning.  I write the problems and the standard being assessed on a Quick Check form and place it under the document camera. My students know to check the board as they come in.  If there's a Quick Check posted, they grab a form before going to their seats.  They fill out the top of the form and then copy and solve the problems.  They usually have about 5-8 minutes to complete the Quick Check. Obviously, the length of time will depend on the complexity of the problems.

As I check the assessments, I group students according to the types of errors they've made.  At some point during the day, I pull those groups for a few minutes of intervention.  Oftentimes, it's just a matter of a quick fix and the student is back on track.  For some students, a more intensive reteach session is necessary.  

The Quick Check form isn't limited to assessing Math standards.  Students can use the form to record short answers for reading comprehension questions.  I love using the form for vocabulary assessments.  Sometimes I'll post the vocabulary terms and students will write the definitions or vice versa.  I can also post the vocabulary terms and have students write original sentences that demonstrate their understanding of the terms.  

Another way I've used the form is to 'Show What You Know!'  At the end of a Social Studies or Science lesson, I have students write down 4-5 important concepts they've learned.  For example, students might be asked to list 4 technological advances that contributed to the expansion and success of European maritime exploration. This allows me to check in with my students to see who 'gets' it and who doesn't.

I love my Quick Check form.  It's been a simple way for me to monitor student progress.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Life in Room 24: A Bit of a Misnomer . . .

My blog title is a misnomer . . . for the moment anyway.  Life in Room 24 is happening on a daily basis, but it's happening without ME!  I am at home for 6 weeks, recovering from shoulder surgery.  I've got a week and a half behind me now and I'm trying to find ways to entertain myself with one arm.  Once the anesthesia and pain med fog lifted, boredom rapidly slipped in.  It was frustrating trying to do much of anything with one arm (I found out that there is a limit to how many games you can keep up with on Words with Friends and Scramble with Friends), so I started perusing blogs.  Teaching blogs.  A number of great things have come from this already.

First, spending time reading through blogs is not a luxury that many teachers enjoy when we're buried under the day to day happenings in our classroom.  So I'll count myself fortunate that I've got more than enough time enjoy a bit of guilt free blog hopping.  I just needed a little paradigm shift to get out of my personal pity party.  Free time is a blessing if you use it wisely, a curse if you squander it watching the minute hand tick away.

Second, it is amazing how many entertaining and informative blogs I've found!  I quickly realized that I need a way to organize all the great strategies and tips I've come across.  Pinterest, another luxury that I can't enjoy when I have 32 planet reports to grade, seems like a great way to keep track of all the wonderful ideas I want to save for future reference. I'd love to hear how you organize your great finds!

And finally, I realized that Life at Home can run smoothly if I apply the same routines I have for Life in Room 24.  A classroom without routines is chaos at best.  Apparently the same applies for sitting at home with one arm in a sling for six weeks.  Again, I simply needed to change my focus from what I can't do with an arm in a sling, to what I can do.  As it turns out, there's a fair amount that I can do.  So I've sketched out a bit of a routine for my days. It includes time to read blogs, walk the dogs (one at a time for this one armed dog walker), exercise on my recumbent bike, watch movies, catch up on the news, finish reading the books I've set aside for too long now, do some lesson planning, nap, and even play a few games of Scramble with Friends.  Sounds delightfully self-indulgent doesn't it?

Suddenly, the next four and a half weeks feel less like purgatory and more like a gift of time.