It is another new year and I am finally going to do what I started two summers ago. I had intended to have the students do reading comprehension and standardized test practice every Thursday, since we are now on a four day school week (which I love by the way). This weekend I have finally made Google form quizzes of 25 questions each and uploaded the worksheets I created two summers ago into livebinderit.com so that students can download and take practice tests at home and online. Plus, I intend to dedicate some time every Thursday in class having them complete short answer questions. I am not sure if this will all be graded on effort or extra credit or a combination of both. Since we are all engaged in the high stakes test game, I do like my students to perform at a high level. Typically, I have had a passing rate of about 65% to 75%. I don’t think this year will do as well but I do say that every year. I know it is not about me but I do hope that they are learning since the students see me two years in a row.
On top of all this, on Saturday, I put together my introduction to chemistry unit for this year. Since I usually start with chemistry in September except for this year because we have a new textbook that is organized with physics first we are going to be doing this unit in the beginning of February instead. I am hoping to have them write a paper for research first, do some at home experiments, and make a magazine on current topics in chemistry. Semi-independent work filled with some choices for them. I like to see them be their own learners with me as facilitator, it is amazing how much they learn without realize that they are. On the other hand there are a few that sit around and do very little so I get discouraged but I keep trying this approach over and over again. Force feeding knowledge is so boring and routine that to stay inspired and to hopefully get students to engage I try this semi-differentiation about twice a year. I am still going to make them read the book and give quizzes on vocabulary and offer other short group projects to make sure we cover the core concepts. June will be here soon and my 8th graders will move on to our high school fully prepared, I hope.
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