Sunday, March 16, 2014

One week until state testing - what's a teacher to do?

What's happening in my classroom this week?
I teach three classes of sixth graders, about 75 students in all.  And I know that six of them are identified as dealing with major anxiety issues already.  A bunch of others already worry enough about school.  So, what do I do the week before state testing?  Honestly?  The same thing I've been doing since the beginning of the year.  If I haven't covered it by now, I'm not going to cram it into their heads in the final week.

That doesn't mean I function without any stress.  Sigh.  I wish I could.  It just means that the calmer I stay, the calmer they stay.  Although as calm as I try to stay, I always feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders the day when testing is over.  Do you feel that way, too?

So, what's happening in my room?  Well, we're finishing up a unit on poetry, we're reading and annotating a more one-sided view of when the Aztecs met Hernan Cortes to learn author's purpose and point of view, we're working on our Reading Olympians words, and we're reading, reading, reading!

I read three different books for Read Aloud - one to each Core (class). 
  I read about this one on a teacher blog last summer and copied down the title.  Bought it in the Fall, had a student preview it for me (he love, love, loved it!) read it over Christmas break, and am reading it to one class.  They beg for extra time for read-aloud!

Then, this wonderful (no pun intended) book.  I love how indignant my students get about the way kids treat August.  And we have some serious heart-to-hearts about how easy it is to judge people based on appearance.  This one really gets them thinking.

And with my third class, I'm reading this one.  This is another good book (although I'm just realizing that all three, this time around, have male protagonists!  That'll have to change with the next set of choices.)  Anyway, this is a book that students connect with pretty easily too, although the time period is very different.  But they connect because Sage is being asked to be something he's not, and he fights that idea for nearly the whole book.  It also generates a lot of good discussion.

My philosophy about reading is that we read and we talk about it.  For these precious few minutes in class, kids don't have to write, they don't have to point out story elements (well, not too often) and they don't have to be responsible for anything except to sit back and listen.  And they love it.

And truth be told, so do I!

For all of you teachers who were on spring break, welcome back!  For those of you who have them coming up soon, hang in there (and know that I'm jealous of you!) and for those of us who don't get any spring breaks (and who are facing state testing) here's to another good week!