Friday, May 03, 2013

Weekly Class Summary: April 29-May3

SOLs Covered:  All Math 7
Math Dictionary Sections: All Sections
Upcoming Assessments: SOL Mini Quiz #3 (Tues. 5/7); SOL Simulation Test (Start Wed. 5/8)

I have family plans this afternoon that start with my niece's softball game (Go Chester!), so this will be a short and sweet summary.  We've been working hard on our review for the SOLs.  We started the week with our first mini SOL quiz that when added with the others (five in total) will be equivalent to one SOL test.  We'll be charting each student's progress with a few rewards along the way to see which areas students are strongest and those they need to invest more time in and out of class reviewing.  Once the quizzes along with the county's SOL simulation test are completed, we will be sending letters home with each student's individual needs marked to show both students and their parents where they need to devote their personal home studies and review.  An area of strength will not need as much work as the areas students are not quite as strong in at the moment.

Since the quizzes are supposed to emulate SOL testing, students will not be allowed to complete the usual error analysis for the quizzes.  I am however working on an extra credit packet that students will be allowed to complete; the credit earned will be included in the quiz category, which will in turn pull up the score for that category and their overall grade.  If all goes as planned, I expect to have that packet ready in the next two weeks.

As part of our review, each student has made and started adding to their SOL review folder.  So far the folder includes the SOL review booklet assigned for homework this week, the SOL review packet we've been working on in class all week, and the first of their mini SOL quizzes.  With each quiz and packet they receive, we're adding to the table of contents listed on the front of the folder, keeping everything organized in order to help our preparation go smoothly.  The folder and its contents will be collected (and returned to students ASAP so they can continue to study) the week before SOLs and given a test grade; it will be graded for if they have everything (non-assessment items will be posted in the usual places online) and it's for the most part organized.  A ParentLink phone call and email was sent Wednesday evening to let all parents of 7th grade students know of the folder and its importance.

We've been working a bit slower on the packet and homework in class this week than planned, but overall it's been for very good reasons.  With each question we have been going into tons of extra detail about the possible variations that might show up on the SOL as well as the various approaches/methods that can be used to solve each.  Because we haven't gotten as far into the work together, I will not be marking the homework as missing until Monday if it has not been turned in at that point; students need to make sure each of the questions are completed, but they can leave the notes/tips section for when we go over it together in class.  The classwork packet will not be marked as missing until we've finished going over it together.  For that reason, I will probably change the assignment orders in the gradebook (I'd already added it as an upcoming grade, so it is already listed in the grade reports on Edline).

Students should continue working and reviewing on their own a little every night and over the weekends.  They have the knowledge, we just need to work on refining everything so they can get the best grades and scores possible to show they know it.  With the new SOLs and new testing formats, the work is harder, but we've been talking in great detail about how students need to change their approach to problem solving to meet the new requirements.  Not all questions are multiple choice; there are fill-in-the-blank that might require answers given in a particular manner along with questions that have more than one correct answer, which can be tricky if you don't remember to look for other possible correct choices once you've found one that works.  We'll be looking at the state's online practice items in class some next week along with taking the simulation test, so I encourage students to get a head start by trying the site themselves over the weekend.

So this ended up being a lot longer than I thought it would be, but this isn't the first time I set out to post a quick little update only to end up with quite a bit more.  I'm always finding more I wish to share and while I hope these posts are helpful, any students or parents with questions should feel free to email or leave a question in the comments section if they need anything.  Test prep is hard work, but I'm here to help!

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