Countdown to Testing

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I teach at a private school that uses MAP  (Measures of Academic Progress) testing as an assessment tool to measure student growth.  Our students test in the Fall and then again the Spring.  I am not one to teach to the test, but I still get nervous in the Spring because I want the scores to indicate that my students are growing and meeting their growth target. Since the Spring test is given in late May, there are a few topics that we do not cover until after the test, but students might be asked questions on these concepts.  I want to find a way that would help students get some review and practice for such concepts but not take up too much time since we will be covering them later on in the year.

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In the front of our 7th grade textbook is a Countdown to Testing consisting of five problems to be completed each week for 24 weeks.  Each of the five problems covers a different aspect of the common core standards.  In the past, I have tried doing one problem each day, however, with only 42 minute periods three days a week and one 72 minute block each week, adding one more transition into the schedule didn’t always work.   For this reason I am going to try giving the students an extra homework assignment that I assign on Monday and collect the following Monday.   Since I do not assign homework each night, I am hoping that this will not be a problem.

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I created a template similar to the setup in the textbook for students to complete the problems on.  Students will have a week to complete this assignment at their convenience.   We will then go over the answers during our block day, which is on Tuesday.

I do not want this assignment to just be about getting the right answers.  Rather, I am hoping to encourage students to discuss the different ways that they used to answer the questions, thereby reinforcing the fact that there is more than one way to get to an answer.  Additionally, since all of the problems are word problems similar in form to many of the MAP testing questions, I am hoping that this will strengthen their test taking skills.

In my previous blog I mentioned that I was reading Making Thinking Visible.  I feel that this discussion time could be a great place to incorporate some of the practices mentioned in the book.  However, I haven’t quite thought that out yet.  I will leave that for another blog.  Until then…

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