You are reading the second part of this post. If you missed Part 1, click here to go read it first. Part 1 took us through the first semester of the 2018-2019 school year.
When I came back from the Christmas break, I was concerned about getting through my curriculum. We were behind and I knew that I needed to go strong. I made a calendar of what I needed to get done. I also wanted to give myself a two week review window.
Step 6: After the first semester, set up a calendar of everything you need to finish. Your deadline needs to be two weeks before the EOC.
My lessons were very focused. Just as I said in Post 1, the TEKS were continually studied so that I knew what was expected and how questions on each skill had been asked on past EOC’s. Every quiz and test either had actual EOC questions or resembled them closely. I layed out everything that I knew I needed to finish. I felt better about having a plan.
During the 4th six weeks, I set up lunch tutoring with my lowest students. Remember me saying that I thought about 70% would pass? Really my number was 67% because out of 15 students, I knew 5 of them would pass, I was not sure about the middle 5 and then the last 5…I thought would never pass no matter what I did. Sounds negative I know, but I’m telling you the real thoughts that I had!
I took the bottom 6 and split them up into two groups of three. I met them on Tuesdays and Thursdays during lunch. Why lunch? Because I knew it would be hard to get them to come after school. I gave them the 2017 EOC/STAAR and we started working through the problems. I let them use calculators because I wanted to show them everything I could to help them pass. I’d give them a few problems to work and then I’d go over it with them. I let their tutoring time count as extra credit or I’d replace missing grades. Did they always show up? No. Sometimes I’d go into the cafeteria and find them and make them come to my room. Sometimes I’d let it slide. I didn’t always have the energy to fight the battle.
Step 7: Set up tutoring with your lowest students at least once a week.
The 5th six weeks was crazy. I had to miss two weeks of school to go be with a family member. Thank goodness for Google Forms and Slides. I continued wrapping up the curriculum by sending my students the work through Google Apps. One thing that has saved me over the past few years is having a classroom blog. The students know to go to my blog to get assignments and class information. I was able to post all the links on my blog and we didn’t miss a beat. I had a really good sub that made sure students were doing their work. I kept in close contact with the students and would email them like crazy if I heard they weren’t doing their work. The two weeks that I was gone, I covered exponential functions and geometric sequences. This took us up to Spring Break.
After Spring Break, the district gave a Practice Algebra EOC. It was created by the district but it was very similar to the 2017 Test. It took a day away from class, but in the long run, it gave me very good data.
Step 8: Give a Practice EOC after Spring Break. It could be one of the actual tests. If you plan on doing this, then don’t use any of those questions on tests or quizzes.
Here are the scores. This shows how many questions were answered correctly. One of my students did not return after Spring Break, so I’m down to 14 people at this point. The benchmark actually made me feel so much better. I knew that to pass, they would need to get 21 or so questions correct. The 5 lowest scores had to continue tutoring. (It was the same people that were already attending tutoring. The 6th person was the one that did not return.) I was very worried about the two that scored 16 and 17, but I had not even covered quadratics yet and this test covered everything.
I’ll come back to how I used this data later. As for now, I want to tell you what I did at the very end of the 5th six weeks. (I did manage to get polynomials done and I taught the students how to multiply binomials but the next part is key for the next six weeks!) I gave every student a set of 40 flashcards covering the basics. They cut them out, punched holes in them and put them on rings. I gave them the answers and they wrote the answers on the back. Once it was all done, I gave them a 100. I told them to start studying them and bring them to every class.
Now I’m in the 6th 6 Weeks and I’m getting very close to test time. I’m three weeks from the test. There is no way to get quadratics done in a week, so I knew it would have to take two weeks and I would only have one week to review, but I started incorporating some quick review at the beginning of class. I would give the students 5 minutes to study their flashcards when they came into the room, then I would give them a quick 20 question quiz. It really was quick. I made the quizzes so that they could be answered quickly. The kicker was that the students had to make an 80 or better before they could move on to the next quiz. There were three quizzes in all. They were easy to grade and I got them back to them usually during the same class. I feel like this was a major confidence booster and it was good because they were seeing the same material over and over because each quiz had the same questions, just asked in a different way. This is how I started every class during this two week time frame. Remember, I teach on a block schedule.
Step 9: Give out flashcards and start taking the quizzes – three weeks out from the test.
Let me tell you more about the flashcards and quizzes. I took a resource that I have on TpT called Algebra I STAAR/EOC Review Task Cards and Quizzes. Instead of using the Task Cards as I intended, I made them flashcards. The kids did all the work. I just printed them off. I gave them the answer key because I didn’t want them studying the wrong thing. I truly believe that this made a huge difference…especially for the low students. They need this repetition. It was nice for them because they had something specific to study. The quizzes should have been easy if they studied the cards. Most kids made an 80 or better on the first two quizzes, but time became an issue and I had to tell students that if they wanted to keep trying to make an 80, they would have to come during lunch to finish and not everyone did.
Finally, the last week before the test has arrived. I’ve wrapped up the curriculum as well as I could. The quizzes are mostly done. The Monday of the last week was my Algebra Camp Day. I took my 14 kids to a different part of the building where we would not be disturbed all day long and we worked on some specific tasks. The benchmark data from after Spring Break is how I decided on the specific tasks. Luckily, I had already created an EOC review a couple of years ago. I used bits and pieces of the objectives that I needed. I also changed some of it up to fit my needs that day. I started using some of these materials earlier in the year as needed, but it was good to have things already made that I could use. Camp Day was a success but very tiring. By the end of the day, they were sick of math and so was I, but they all said it was very worth it. I did enjoy it, but it took a lot of energy and time to get it set up. I have all my materials that I made and I will make it a goal of mine to share with you each thing I did in a new post, but for now if you want my EOC Objective Reviews, you can get them at my TpT store. By the way, it has 11 resources plus the Task Card and Quiz review that I mentioned earlier. You can buy only the objectives you want or get them bundled into one comprehensive review.
Step 10: Algebra EOC Camp Day! If you can’t do a full day, at least to a half day!
The last few days that I had in class with them were spent on going over the formula chart and giving them calculator tips. The very last time that I saw them was chaotic. I remember thinking that they weren’t listening, they were off task and they were just all over the place. I couldn’t believe that they weren’t totally focused, but I probably burned them out. I was very intense with them. They knew I meant business. I did not leave feeling good about the last class that I had with them.
All went well on test day though. My ELL students took the test on the computer and everyone else took the paper version. They all passed. I was elated. Here is a side by side of their benchmark scores and their actual test scores.
Step 6: Create a calendar plan for the second semester.
Step 7: Set up a tutoring plan with your lowest students. Start going over a previous STAAR test.
Step 8: Give a practice EOC close to Spring Break.
Step 9: Create flashcards and start taking quizzes
Step 10: Algebra Camp – one day or a half day.
***I have started the 2019-2020 school year. I have two Algebra classes this year. I’ve started with 28 students. I’m planning on following this plan with some improvements. The main improvement is that I do not plan on being behind in the curriculum. I’ve already looked at their 8th grade STAAR data. I’m ahead of the game and ready to start. I’m planning on writing a blog about how each six weeks goes. Stay tuned!