After the Test—Then What?
All year, you’ve been preparing the students for standardized testing, and now it’s over!
If your state schedules testing like my state, there are a couple of things to consider: 1) it is April or early May, and there are still nearly two months of school and a whole marking period of curriculum to introduce; and 2) the students may feel that since we have built up the testing so much that when it is over, school is over. There is too much of what feels like “dead time” at the end. The kids are antsy, you are tired, and the weather is becoming too enticing for you to want to be in school....
Don’t despair! There are tons of things you can do that will energize you, engage the students, and prevent the need to call in the National Guard. And, get this: they are aligned with most national, state, and local standards. Think of this time as a chance to experiment with new strategies in preparation for the next year, to enhance your teaching style.
Think “hands-on” and keep kids moving at this time. They are not going to deal well with lecture, and visual displays will be over-stimulating. Use coloring tools (having to present their most careful and created-for-hanging work will slow them down and make them think a bit), gluing, large poster board (the rationale for this is to encourage standing—more energy expended, and allows for collaboration and sharing. Reinforce that “sharing” is not “cheating”), meter sticks, and fabric, sparkles, and glue-on materials. Tactile objects also slow students down and make them consider what they will need to get the project right.
Strategize, Then “Take It Easy (Facilitate)!”
Allow students to choose to work cooperatively or alone. Give written as well as directions read aloud and allow for a clarification period. Have students ask a question or two and lay ground rules for use of materials. Obviously, no throwing or taking more than needed. Sharing is essential, and signing out items such as sharpies is important. Stress the necessity of mapping things out first, and you may need a template or organizer for students who tend to get confused. Impress upon students that this is “showroom” material, intended to take home on the last day of school as a culminating project of all that they learned this year, so it must be the best. Present a finished example to the class as an exemplar and provide a rubric. Review the rubric with the class.
Please note that these projects are intended to be long term, so they should contain several parts and encompass several objectives.
You, the teacher, will fulfill a role that is more of a guide or facilitator. You will spend two minutes norming (rules for conduct and material usage, as well as respect for others’ work), and five minutes storming (explaining the assignment, exemplar, and rubric), and then the rest is performing time (students discuss amongst themselves how they are achieving the finished project, deciding whether to work with others or alone, the materials they will need, and the process they will use—remember, the grouping rules are not format here, since the intent is to “relax,” but engage.). Now, you walk around, assist with ideas and materials, provide encouragement and advice, ensure students are on-task, and keep time.
About the Rubric
Your rubric should have at least three levels of success, depending on age and grade level: Great, Good, Fair. If a student at least gets through the project from beginning to end, there should be some credit given. Of course, if there is no effort, there should be contact to the parent, an alternate objective-fulfilling assignment given, or extra help provided to the student (find out the reason for no effort!). A score of “Great” should follow the teacher exemplar, but go beyond, while a “Good” matches the teacher’s exemplar, point for point, and a “Fair” rating means that the student provided a completed project, but it is lacking some components. Always review the rubric in conjunction with the exemplar so students know what to expect.
Now for the fun part, other than implementing these activities and watching the kids enjoy themselves by being creative, collaborative, and competitive! Planning the activities!
A language arts literacy project I love to have the students complete is a “Facebook Poster.” Now, many kids are purists, and if I call it “Facebook,” they are going to say, “That’s not what a Facebook page looks like!” So, call it “Classbook” or something like that. The reason for the name change is that we need to include some more specific details in our page/poster, so that it is a learning activity as well as one that showcases the student’s accomplishments.
Have students design and complete a poster that resembles a Facebook page. Some of the components can be about the student him/herself, while others are about academics.
Some of the questions can be:
What is your name? When is your birth date? Where were you born? What is your favorite (song, movie, singer, TV show, food, book, author)? How many children in your family? Encourage students to bring in pictures of the items that are favorites, of themselves, and of family, or to illustrate on their own.
Here are some of the activities that can be used to follow up:
· Language Arts: Have students choose one of their own favorites and post the reasons why it is their favorite in a paragraph of not less than five sentences on their wall.
· Peer Reflection: Have students comment on the other students’ posts (make certain students know the rules of being constructive rather than combative and also that posters have been assessed by you prior to this activity).
· Peer Assessment: Have students complete a gallery walk and place a sticker (stars will do well!) as a “like.” Alternatively, students may use rubrics and rate the posters based on the exemplar and criteria. If a poster is a “Great,” then it earns a “like.”
· Math: Have students choose a “favorite” topic and list and tally students’ choices. This data collection can be extended to a class spreadsheet and used for a fun lesson in data analysis or another poster of a data display of descriptive statistics.
· Technology: Use spreadsheet idea above, but on MS Excel.
· Technology: Have students use this info to create a real Facebook page.
· Social Studies Alternative: Instead of the student him or herself, have students choose a famous person in history and research that person for their Facebook page.
· Language Arts: Have students read the articles on these links
and discuss the following in groups. Have students present their findings.
Questions for Discussion—Facebook
Referring to the article that was read by your group, respond to the discussion questions completely in writing using lined paper. If you have differing opinions, write them and place your initials next to your response.
Watch Your Words
1. According to the author, why do we need to watch what we say more than ever?
2. What is a misconception regarding cyberbullying?
3. Do you believe that adults can be bullied? Why or why not?
4. What is one way that Facebook protects its clients from cyberbullying? Do you think this is effective?
5. From this author’s perspective, who is the most responsible for protecting Facebook users from cyberbullying?
Obamas Denounce Facebook
1. Why are the Obamas invested in the growing cyberbullying problem?
2. Do you feel that the President should be involved in combating cyberbullying?
3. What is “Crisp Thinking”? Do you think they are effective? Why or why not?
4. Do you feel that foul language should be monitored on Facebook? Why or why not?
5. Do you feel that someone should be kicked off of Facebook or online games for foul language? Explain your stance.
Schoolgirls Arrested for Cyberbullying
1. Do you think parents should be held responsible for their children’s internet use, for example, serving jail time if the children commit illegal acts?
2. Do you feel that when kids do inappropriate things on Facebook, that they should be punished in school? Why or why not?
3. If you see something inappropriate going on, as in this story, should you let the victim know? Would you let the victim know? Explain your position.
4. Do you feel the two girls in the story should be sent to a juvenile detention center for this incident?
5. Do you think that Facebook should be held responsible for the incident in any way? How, why, or why not?
How Should Facebook and MySpace Handle Cyberbullying?
1. What are some things Facebook is doing to protect users? Do you think they are effective?
2. Do you feel that the website creators have a responsibility to protect the general public?
3. Do you feel that schools should be involved in cyberbullying cases?
4. Do you think that limiting what is posted on Facebook violates the First Amendment rights of U.S. citizens?
5. Should Facebook “out” bullies who post threats, etc.? Explain your stance.
Follow up for this portion:
Students will present a summary of each article and a brief reflection based upon their group discussion questions. “Audience” may ask further questions for clarification.
Writing a Persuasive Essay: Individually, students will write a five-paragraph essay in which they reflect upon the following quote:
“More than any other innovation of the 21st Century, Facebook and other similar online social networking websites have enslaved the American teenager to the point of no return.”
Students will include the following points:
- What are your feelings regarding Facebook and other online social networks?
- What do you think the word “enslaved” refers to in this quote? What does this quote mean?
- Do you agree with this quote as a whole? Why or why not?
1. Students will brainstorm in small groups, create individual graphic organizers, and write a first draft.
2. In pairs, they will read each other’s work and make suggestions and corrections.
3. Students will conference individually with the teacher, then prepare the final draft, leading to the finished work.
4. Students will share and rate work, using the “Three Stars and a Wish” format comments (Three things I like, one suggestion for the future).
5. Teacher will rate work as well, using “Three Stars…”
6. Students will display finished product, either on wall or class website, or in portfolio.
7. As a follow-up, student may complete an illustration, blog or journal entry, slideshow, survey, or poem/song to depict what was learned in another medium.
Finally, here is a template you may use for your students’ posters. If you have a poster-maker, then students can fill those in after they create a rough copy, or they may be able to create theirs from scratch.