Monday, May 20, 2019

How to Teach After Testing is Over

"Year's end,
all corners of this floating world,
swept."
-- Basho

Do your students feel like the school year is over once they’ve finished taking their annual standardized English, math, and science tests?  Mine sure did!  But there was still a good 2 months left in the year and a lot of learning can and should take place during that time.

Ideas for keeping students focused on learning after standardized testing is over #EndofYear #SummativeAssessment | The ESL Nexus
Check out all my End of Year resources HERE; source: The ESL Nexus
It was always a struggle to keep students focused on what I was teaching when they could look out the window and see that summer was coming.  And lots of teachers had a tendency to ease up, especially in the last week, and show movies, play games, or do other activities that had only a tenuous connection to the subjects they were teaching.

My feeling was that I should be teaching up until the last day of school.  Many of my ELLs would be spending the summer just hanging around at home; their families either didn’t have the money to send their kids to summer camp or other organized activities or they were working and couldn't drive them back and forth to such activities.  These students actually were not looking forward to summer vacation because they didn't have anything to do.  Other ELLs would go visit relatives in other countries and spend their time speaking their native language instead of English.  So I wanted to get in as much teaching and learning as possible. 

Here are some suggestions to help you keep your students focused during the last few weeks of school:
* Tell students that although the standardized tests are over, report card grades haven’t closed and the work they do now counts towards their grades.
* Make your lessons engaging but maintain rigor.  Don’t play games or show movies just to fill up the time; make sure there is a content connection and purpose for using those games and movies.
* If allowed, teach class outside a few times.  If your school has a playground, you can go and sit there and teach.  There are also lots of English, math, and science tasks students can do just walking around outside the building, such as writing poetry, measuring distances in customary and metric units, and making scientific observations about flora and fauna.  Make going outside special, a reward.
* When students complain – and they will! -- that their other teachers are just doing fun things, explain that in your classroom, you still have things you need to teach them.  Tell your students you want to make the lessons as enjoyable as possible but you need their cooperation to make that happen.  In other words, get students to understand that the better their behavior, the more enjoyable the class will be.
* Maintain classroom discipline.  Don’t slack off and let students get away with things they wouldn’t be allowed to do the rest of the year.  Once that happens, it will be almost impossible to get things back under control.

You’ll probably also want to do some kind of summative assessment.  Not only does that give you an idea of how well your students learned, it gives students themselves a way to see everything they’ve accomplished in your class.  In addition, it gives you an indication of which topics were easiest/hardest for students and which areas you need to give more attention to next year.

I used 2 kinds of summative assessments.  One was a self-assessment form that I used in all my middle school classes.  It asked students to reflect on the topics they learned, how well they learned those things, how much effort they put into the class, and what suggestions they had for improving the class.  Students could consult each other to help them remember what they did but then they had to individually respond to the questions that asked for their opinions.

Let your students reflect on their learning at the end of the year with these final self-assessment forms #EndofYear #SummativeAssessment | The ESL Nexus
Click HERE for these Final Self-Evaluation Forms; source: The ESL Nexus
The other summative assessment was specifically for my 8th grade ESL Social Studies class, which was about world history.  It was a multi-day assignment that asked students which ancient civilization they would like to live in.  My students really enjoyed this activity – it was a different kind of assessment from all the others they’d had and they all said it was fun to do.

Give your students in Ancient or World History classes this fun end of year activity that lets them demonstrate what they learned in your class #EndofYear #SummativeAssessment | The ESL Nexus
Click HERE for this EOY Ancient & World History resource; source: The ESL Nexus
I subsequently created similar end of year assessments, based on my other ESL Social Studies classes, for U.S. History, World Geography, and U. S. Geography, as well as end of year resources for Science and English Language Arts.  There’s also a money-saving bundle of all the Social Studies resources HERE.

Wishing you a wonderful end to your school year!

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