25 January 2008

Reflecting on Reviewing

I wrapped up the implementation of my ambitious review plan with my biology kids today. You can follow the link if you want the layout of things. My purpose here is to capture what did and didn't work well---and how to tweak for next time around.

Overall, I'm happy with the format. I think it was good to have something different for kids each day. The mini-lessons on study skills were very well received by students. It will be good reinforce some of this learning next semester and help kids develop some new habits.

If I were to make some changes, there would be two. First of all, while five days of review are not too many, five topics for a kid is. So, I would likely add a day and then have students take two days to explore a particular topic, for three total. Secondly, although my kids do fairly well at managing themselves, I need to do much more frontloading of group structures. Yes, my kids do regularly work in groups, but not quite as I'd laid out here. It was difficult for them to adjust to a different format and most of the groups were not successful at completing their tasks. One way to also help solve this would be to physically separate the classroom into three areas, one for each group, but I'm at a loss at the moment as (a) I'm sharing a room and (b) it has many large immovable lab tables and nearly 50 desks (the other teacher has large classes). There's just not a lot of space, but I have some time to ponder this and see what creative solutions I can find before taking this on again.

Most teachers are using their finals as a separate of assessment of student learning---a way to test everything presented during the first 90 days of school. I'm being non-traditional this year in the sense that I'm using a final as a second (or third) opportunity for students to show mastery on those standards they struggled with the first time around. The kids are happier with having the power placed in their hands about what they do and I'm pleased with this dynamic, as well.

Finals are next week. Students who chose to do alternative assessments have them due on Monday. Regular testing starts on Tuesday. I am anxious to see how my students do. I wish them much success.

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