Thursday, February 26, 2015

Test Prep Blog Hop: Students Teach

Welcome to another blog hop brought to you by the teacher/authors of The Lesson Deli!

I don't think it really matters what part of the country (if you live in the US), you've been "unseasonably cold" these past few weeks. My friends at the Lesson Deli and I decided we'd do our best to help you warm up a bit, with a Starbucks Gift Card giveaway. Don't miss the link at the end of this post!

Teachers, it's that time of year again. Test Prep Season. Most of us would love to forget about it, but we can't. Even my fellow tutors and I feel it. It's not bad enough that we're feeling the February blues, but we have to get our learners ready for the next round. What do you do? Do you have some tried and true test-prep strategies, resources, or routines?

I'm from the school of thought that the best way to learn something is to teach it. When I have a student who needs help preparing for a test, I have him teach the material to me. Sometimes he's confident, sometimes she's nervous, most of the time they are excited to have the floor. I hand over my Expo Marker, and sit down with a notebook. 

As my student teaches me how to conjugate a verb, convert a fraction, or set up an equation, I take note of whether he's using the specific vocabulary that will be on the test. I make a note of how many times she says "um" or "like" as an indicator of how comfortable she is with the material. One thing I do not do is interrupt. Even if she is wrong, or even if he will end up at an incorrect conclusion. 

Many times, by the time s/he gets to the end, s/he's figured out their own mistake and can go back and correct it. Whether the conclusion is correct or way off base, I ask, "Does your answer make sense?" "Or, is there another way you could have done that?" That is usually all it takes for the student to look back over the work and find a mistake or two. 

How can you duplicate this teaching back process in the classroom? Small groups is one way. Each group will focus on one skill or concept, and the participants take turns teaching to their classmates. Participants use this free rubric to rate each "teacher's" lesson. (I include this rubric in my 6th grade Math skills Task Cards. The task cards offer a test-like question, then direct the student to show how they know, or explain why it works.)

In honor of the recent Teachers are Heroes TpT  sale, I thought I'd keep the love going with a $15.00 gift card to my favorite store. There are several ways to enter in the rafflecopter below. Best wishes!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
And here is the next Lesson Deli teacher/author, with another tip to help you through this testing season: 
Make sure to click through until you reach the Lesson Deli Blog so you can enter for your chance to win the Starbucks gift card, AND a bundle of test prep goodies from all of us involved in this hop. Happy test-prep season!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My Teacher Hero

We all have at least one. That one great teacher who changed everything, encouraged us, or just finally helped us "get it". Mine was a phenomenal middle school teacher. I've written about her before, but I guess it never gets old.

Mrs. Turner... When I saw that name on my 6th grade course list, I freaked out. I knew a couple of 7th graders, and they all told me, "Just hope you don't get Mrs. Turner for English!"  "She's mean. Nasty," they all said. "She once threw a chair across the room!" they warned me. "She loves to give Es" they said.

I was so scared. I loved to read, and writing was a favorite pastime. But I wasn't spectacular at either of them. Having this hard, cruel, hot-tempered teacher had me shaking in my high tops! All of that would ease in only a few weeks.

Yes, Mrs. Turner was strict, and she didn't sugar coat things. But she wasn't hot tempered. She just didn't take the bull that inner city kids tend to give their middle school teachers ;) And I wasn't one of those kids anyway!

Her class was hard...Brutal to be honest. I didn't do well, at all. But Mrs. Turner must have seen something in me that I didn't. She asked me to stay in her room some lunch periods so we could work on skills. We conjugated Hundreds of verbs a few times after school. No one ever asked her to do this. She just offered.

I ended up with her my 7th grade year too, and this time, I jumped up and squealed when I saw her name on my slip! I was so happy to have such a caring teacher, that wouldn't let the trouble makers ruin the class for the rest of us. It didn't hurt that she happened to group me with a "weird heavy metal girl" that first year, who had since become my best friend :D.

Besides the help and attention she gave the shy, out of place, white girl, I remember another touching thing about Mrs. Turner. It seemed that every week she would get a visitor (OK, maybe not every week, but at least twice a month). Some times they were older teenagers, sometimes young adults, and a few times they were older adults (Mrs. Turner wasn't "old" but she wasn't Young either!). Sometimes she would introduce her previous students to her current students. Other times they would just talk quietly at her desk and leave quickly. Either way, the meeting either began or ended with a warm embrace (sometimes both).

It was amazing to see a teacher so loved by her students! I wanted to be like her one day. I wonder what Mrs. Turner would think of my teaching career today :D

Ok, enough reminiscing! What brought on this trip to the past? This week, Teachers Pay Teachers is having a sitewide sale to honor the teacher heroes among us! My store, as well as many others, will be discounted to 20% OFF and then TPT throws on an extra 10% savings at checkout! (Just don't forget to type in the promo code: HEROES

Comment on this post with the item you are moving from your wishlist to your shopping cart, and I'll randomly select one commenter to win another item of equal value from my store. (Disclaimer, to qualify, your wish list item must be from my store. I can't give bonuses on other people's resources!)

Here are a few more teacher bloggers,

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