Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Strategy of the Week

One of my resolutions this year is to get my strategy of the week back to being a weekly thing instead of a monthly thing. I'm sure you all understand how the demands of teaching are, so we'll see how long this lasts :)

It is that time of year when administrators want you to begin focusing more heavily on test prep. This week's strategy does not have a fancy name (except the one I'm about to give it!), and it is really common sense- and it goes along with that test prep that your administrator wants you to use.

Where did you find it?
When my students are taking reading practice tests in preparation for the big one at the end of the year, I like to slowly teach them little tricks and methods to help them. Each time we take a practice test, I introduce one or two new strategies. By the time we get around to testing, I hope that these strategies are second nature for my students since we do it so much. 

When I first began teaching, I often found myself frustrated that my students did not always go back to the reading that the questions were based on to look for the answers. When I would go over the test with them, and say "Where did you find it?" they would go back and look, say "Oh" and then give me the correct answer. I realized that they really do not look on their own. I don't know if it is because they forget, or if my ELLs are so overwhelmed that they feel they can only guess, but I knew I had to do something to change it.

When I first started this, I was working with 6th-8th graders, but I now use this same strategy with my 4th graders. When they have a reading passage, with multiple choice test questions, I require them to write the number of the paragraph where they found the answer next to the question. They use the paragraph symbol and the number. It seems so simple, but it has truly helped them to remember to go back and look, and their scores have improved.

I also use this with chapter or comprehension questions when we are reading a novel or using their leveled readers. They simply write the page or paragraph number that helped them to answer the question. The other great thing about this strategy is, that if they missed it, I am often able to use the information about which paragraph or page they were looking in to help me understand where they went wrong.

Just before Christmas, I was plugging into a 4th grade language arts classroom where they were doing a practice test on non-fiction text. I reminded my students to use this strategy, and the mainstream teacher thought it was such a good idea, she asked her students to do the same. She told me later that she noticed that the students took more time with the activity, and overall had better scores than previously. I know this is not an extensive or definitive study, but it certainly helped these kids!

I hope this helps you and your students as much as it has helped mine!

1 comment:

  1. Hi! This is my first time here and I love your blog! My name is Ana and I teach English as a foreign language in Argentina.
    I have a blog, too. Maybe you want to check it.