Here in New York State we are coming upon testing time. All students, grades 3-8, will be taking NYS tests the second and third week of April. Their scores are part of our grade. It will help NYS determine whether or not I am an effective teacher. Needless to say, the stakes are high.
I have spent much of the year working hard to provide my students with opportunities to connect, grow, learn, ask questions, and experiment, while holding on to the curriculum and keeping test strategies in mind at all times. So, as you can see from my last blog, I do allow them some freedom to decide what to learn but guide them through the learning in a Common Core kind of way. I feel that my students are well prepared for the tests and love coming to school. And if they don't do as well on the tests as I would like, at least I can say they are becoming the human beings I want running our world in the future.
But now that I am starting to think about after the test, I realize that much of my math curriculum was already covered, language arts can go back to having fun reading and writing, social studies, science, and health can move back into the forefront of the classroom. So what are we going to do for the rest of the year?
1. The Global Genius Hour Project - Started by Robyn Thiessen, this project wiki will be a place for us to promote and publicize what we want to learn in our one hour a week that is just for the kids. I cannot wait to see what the students come up with.
2. Simple Machines Rube Goldberg style - Earlier in the year, during a parent/teacher/student conference, I showed a student a Rube Goldberg machine to entice him to create one on his own. He did - for our Traveling Rhino Project. The rest of the class was so enthralled, they all wanted to try. So I am going to split them into groups and have them create a machine, using at least one of each simple machine, that can do something - turn on the lights, turn a page. We will vote on the best one.
3. Create Propaganda posters to convince the school to be upstanders. -This came from our Holocaust unit but we ran out of time to do the posters. Now we have time.
4. The Harris Burdick Writing Project - I am starting this up again and hoping Donna Román is still interested in partnering up our kids to write stories based on the pages from Chris Van Allsburg's The Mystery of Harris Burdick. Anyone else want to partner up? I can find partners for you.
5.Quad-blogging - My wonderful little Read Across the Globe group has stayed in touch since our project last year. We all have our kids on KidBlog and now have time to have fun with connecting. Keep watching our blog for the results.
6. Jigsaw Puzzles, Bananagrams, and Make7 - My kids love to play games and do puzzles but we never have the time. The educational value of working together, while covering these math and language games is amazing. Maybe we will have a game day each week or once or twice a month.
I will still cover the curriculum that is left but I am going to use my time to encourage and entice my students to want to learn more. How will you be spending the rest of your year?