Sunday, March 24, 2013

Spiral Review Hit or Miss

I just read Julie's blog about the bombed tests and the need for review.   I understand completely!

We have 90 minute classes - plenty of time you say to build in spiral review!  But!  ... we meet only every other day and we have to teach the whole year before May 6 to be prepared for the state test.  We have been pushing our students like mad with very little time to stop, regroup, fill in gaps, review.  So my spiral review has been hit or miss.  Some days we have reviewed key concepts in our warm-up.  More often than not, though, our warm-up reminds students of the previous lesson or two ... but doesn't really go deep into reviewing.

I used the day before Spring Break as a spiral review day.  I created stations - each one addressing a standard from the past.  I gave varying points to the stations - students had to earn a 100 by working stations, checking them, reworking them.  That went well.  It was also telling - I could see which standards were still giving them fits (writing equations of lines - no matter what information was given  is our Achilles's heel).

Then after spring break, I made a class set of a textbook "end of course" review ... 9 pages, 50 problems.  Each day we are just doing one page ... 4 - 6 problems.  Because the textbook provides a chart matching standards to problems, I can tell at a glance which standards are weak.  We just did the first page - 6 problems.  Problems 4 and 5 were the pits - only half of my students could get them correct.

So ... on our next class day, I will spend just 5 minutes going over those 2 problems.  I thought about asking students to jot down their answers, then use "4 corners" to dialog about the problems.  Students will go to the corner of their choice - and discuss why they chose that answer.  Each corner will have to explain their thinking.  I'm hoping that dialog will help us clarify misunderstandings.

Then I'll pull a few problems like these to on our homework this week.  I'm hoping that by consistently completing a few problems a day, analyzing the results, going back over the weakest of the concepts will provide the spiraling we need in our last few weeks heading into testing.

This next week our PLC will meet to decide what other review measures we can put in place.  We will have 3 class days before the "big" test to review as well.   I'll report back with the strategies we decide to put in place.

(Not sure how it is with others who are reading this blog, but our students have to pass the state test to graduate.  In fact they have to pass 3 years of math, science, history, reading, and writing to get a diploma.  Each test is 4 hours.  So my freshmen are headed into a season of 5 days of 4 hour tests that affect their graduation status.  I'm all for accountability but this seems a bit ridiculous!)

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