Highs and Lows from the Week of April 1st

We started last week on April Fool’s Day.  That should have been a sign of what kind of week was ahead of me.  It was a crazy week.  We started the week out with great flow, but the NYS ELA tests ruined that flow.  The students had two hours of testing on Wednesday and three hours of testing on Thursday, which equated to twenty-minute class periods.  On Friday, we ended the week with the ancient Greek Olympics (of course with modifications) and the kids got to participate in different events, which was a fun way to end the week but the time was taken from ELA class.

Highs:

  1. Undoubtedly, the highlight of the week was the Skype with Mrs. Augusta Scattergood.  It was amazing!  The students really enjoyed the book Glory Be and they had a chance to ask Mrs. Scattergood questions. We promised that we would only keep Mrs. Scattergood for twenty minutes (because she was doing the visit for free), but we interviewed her for thirty-one minutes and eleven students got to ask her a question (or two). Her answers were thorough, thoughtful, and engaging. She had the attention of ALL of the students for the entire thirty-one minute visit. For me, this was the seventh year that he has had an opportunity to Skype with Mrs. Scattergood. This year, I learned that she attended and graduated from the University of North Carolina. I found it interesting that a hero (or “good guy”) from the story is from North Carolina. She must have fond memories of her time in North Carolina.:)
  2. This is the first year that I am teaching the Forms of Energy unit, but I will write that my first week was a success.  I introduced the students to the vocabulary that we will be using, we read a little about each form of energy (and connected them with kinetic or potential energy), and then, we engaged in a thermal energy investigation on the computers.  The Internet activity from PBS Learning had the kids investigating the differences between conduction, convection, and radiation.  On Monday, we are going to finish the lab.  It was definitely a great finish to an opening week of the Forms of Energy unit.  This week, we will continue to focus on thermal energy.
  3. The last highlight is also a low.  The NYS ELA tests definitely impacted the week, but the highlight was how hard that the kids worked on the test.  They spent five hours taking the test, and they all worked hard for the entire time.  The most interesting part of the testing days is that the students still had energy for learning after the tests were complete.  We had great science classes, an unbelievable Skype visit, and started a new read aloud entitled Hound Dog True by Linda Urban.

Lows:

  1. The NYS ELA tests wreaked havoc on the schedule, and the students had to sit for five hours to take the test.  The most discouraging part is that we will not get the results until September, so the students get upset because they will not even remember the test when they get the results.  The students will never find out which of the questions they got correct and which of the questions they answered incorrectly.  They will just get back a number.  I tried my best to explain the process to the students, but with me, they are used to getting constant feedback from assessments.  They didn’t understand (or love) the explanation.
  2. We didn’t do any writing last week (outside of the NYS test).  The lack of time and the social studies activity on Friday took away from the writing time that I had planned.  We needed to get through two short stories (finishing one from last week), and we never had time for writing.  This was the first week of the school year that the students didn’t do any writing.  We will make up for it in the upcoming week.  I’m trying to encourage the students to do more writing at home, so I will be showing them my weekly highs and lows and hoping that they will try it at home.  Also, I have posted the submission requirements from Stone Soup Magazine (as suggested by Mrs. Augusta Scattergood) with hopes that some of my writers will submit some of their own work.  We will make up for missed time with some writing this week.

We have one more week before spring vacation, so we will have a busy week in the classroom.  The students will be working on their literature circle final projects this week in ELA class, and in science class, we will be doing three labs about thermal energy.  My Fulbright student teacher finishes up on Friday, so he will be doing a presentation on his home country of Bangladesh for the students on Wednesday.  It looks like a great week of learning. 

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