Greetings MTMs,
First of all, CONGRATULATIONS to all of you for the great job done on the book study.
On to new business. It is time again for a thinkfinity required discussion topic. This time of year always is dominated by one major issue, TAKS, not STAAR. So let's have a simple topic on this very issue. Last year we discussed specific, custom activities teachers used to prepare their students for the TAKS. Let's modify that idea...
Please discuss differences in preparation you are using this year to prepare your students for the STAAR or EOC instead of the TAKS. Christine has commented that the STAAR is more rigorous and "timed". Based on her comments and your own observations of the materials you have been provided for preparation, how are you approaching this year's examination differently than last year. If you are making no changes, please comment on why you feel that approach is appropriate. There are no "right or wrong answers" here, just an opportunity for collaboration and dissemination.
Thanks folks, I look forward to the comments.
Hi, Richard and everyone! I feel like it has been years since I last opened Thinkfinity. Aside from the book study, teaching my students (especially the 5th graders ) the strong foundation they need in order to face the STAAR test with confidence, kept me busy. I put everything else on the side for a while. The truth of the matter is, I busied myself searching and researching for samples of the STAAR test on the market and I could not find one that I can trust! The only sample test questions I can rely on are the 17 released questions from Pearson. Then one day, I decided I really should plan on what and how to teach and prepare my students the best way I can do. How rigorous can the test writers of TEA make out of what we already have? Surely, they will still based everything upon the TEKS that we are supposed to teach the kids.How else can they make it hard??? So what I am doing now with my students is to take the past TAKS released tests and take each question at a time, tear them apart, and ask them other possible questions based on that story problem. For example, if the story problem question asks for "what fraction represents the shaded part?", I would add: what if the question asks, "what fraction represents the unshaded part?", "what percent represents the shaded part?", " the unshaded part?", "what decimal number represent the shaded part?", "the unshaded part?". I will keep on going until I run out of questions possible. I emphasized to them that the most important part of the story problem is to READ FIRST the entire problem TWICE or THRICE; then DO THE SAME with the question. Understand the question and what it is asking you to do. Go back to the problem and decide which numbers you need in order to solve the problem. Circle or box them. Decide what to do. SOLVE the problem. Show your work so you have something to look back on when you find the time to review. REMEMBER, YOU GOT ONLY 4 HOURS FOR THE ENTIRE TEST!!!
Any one of you who has another idea? I am OPEN to suggestions.
Good to be back! I had already forgotten how to log in. I am working as a support teacher for the algebra 1 teacher. I have algebra 1 lab classes. I am to provide extra practice for the students that did not pass TAKS last year, but were still promoted. I do a lot of games and projects in addition. Whatever topic the teacher is on, I do something to reinforce it. For example, the regular teacher was working with the properties of exponents last week, My class created I HAVE WHO HAS cards on that same topic. To make it easier for them, I provide a template for each project as most of them have not had a computer class. They access the template from Student Resources and then save it on their h-drive. I also have them work on the corresponding lessons on education2020 in the computer lab. I do take my class to one of the computer labs at least twice a week. By the way, when do we start our new book study?
First thing I did was take the rigor up two notches. Then I took the niceness out. I prepared the students to approach this test as a challenge and with a purpose. Work hard and consistently for four hours.
One of the difference between two tests was the factor of the unknown. Preparing for the TAKS was easier because we are familiar with the test.\
As a department we made our MOCK test very challenging, this prepared the students in two ways. First, they realized the intesity of a timed test, and second they had an idea of the rigor required to be successful on this test.
Mandy mentioned a Mock Test. I understand the need for a Mock Test; however, too much testing does burn out our students, especially when they are given in each subject.
I have been teaching the TEKS. One area of concern for me was the multi-step word problems. We worked on strategies to answer those type of questions.
I had a few students that I was worried about because of the time crunch but they did okay on the benchmark. Our Benchmark was made with some of our input but again they just used the blueprint from the STAAR.
I pushed strategies and focusing on having my students recognize the question being asked. Is this a single step or multi-step word problem. What do information did they already know, what do they do next, third, etc and finally did they answer the question? Can you recognize and continue the pattern? We played some games with the I Have Who Has cards that I purchased at ME by the Sea last summer. I used CSCOPE, STAAR Practice Test books, and "old" materials like Fast Focus or Stepping up to TAKS. The "old" materials were good for my struggling students. CSCOPE was a good challenge for the on track and advanced kids. I reviewed measurmement (area and perimeter) and patterns as well as multiple step problems since those were a concern throughout the year. The other third grade math teacher made a very challenging 5th six weeks benchmark for the students also. It had 60 questions of material that spanned all six weeks. The students practiced pacing themselves and going back to check their work. I told them to answer the questions they understood first and then go back to the difficult ones later.
I agree with Amanda. Strategies are very important for students. They should know how to analyze a problem and decide if its a single step problem or multi-step problem. I did more griddable word problems so the students could have more practice. I made my students justify their answers. I timed their Unit Assessments depending how many questions the Unit Assessmnet had. I also used the Released Staar Test as well as searched questions from the internet. I also disegregated data by assessment and TEKS specific to student needs which geared my small group lessons and interventions. Foldables were implemented in the fractions lesson (word, decimal, grid, and fraction) but during the lesson I asked higher-ordered problem solving questions such as identifying the percentages.
I teach first grade but that doesn't mean our grade level doesn't challenge the students to
use strategies and also engage in problem solving with the ability to show their work
and after working problems together, they also have to be able to work problems
independently. They must follow the strategies before they get their answer.
We really concentrated on the time factor this year. All of our activites were planned giving the students about 4 minutes a question. We also stressed skipping the hard questions and saving them for last. We also asked for Singapore Math training. This helped the students focus on the important parts of a problem and gave them strategies to diagram the problem in a quick efficient manner. It also helped the students look back and make sure they were answering the question! The final factor we concentrated on was working solidly for an extended period of time. Our students needed some training to be able to work independently on their own for longer periods of time.
I taught 2nd grade so I did not give the STAAR test. I used the daily Spiraling Review Questions from CSCOPE. The students had a dry-erase board or paper and manipulatives to work out the problem. Manipulatives were used as needed. When everyone had a chance to finish, then the students told how they solved the problem. It was interesting to listen to them share how they solved the problem. I did notice the multi-step problems were more challenging.
I was a classroom monitor for the 5th grade STAAR test. The students did not seem bothered by the time factor. I think they came in and got busy. The teachers had prepared them very well.
I have made it a point to have more rigor in my questioning stems. I have implemented thinking clouds and accountable talk in my classroom-students response and how I want them to reply to me and their peers. I placed blooms and the verbs on my board so the students can see where we are suppose to be in our objective for the day. I color coded so they know that critical thinking was orange and my days objective had that verb they could look and see. I really do not know if this helped but my students were excited and motivated so I feel it was worth the effort They got such a big kick out of answering using "smart" words. "I verify what Billy said by agreeing to his answer because...
A huge emphasis was on timed testing. Students were used to dragging the TAKS out all day so that had to be changed. Of course, rigorous problem solving: multiple step problems, some language lessons on singular and plural nouns, reading tips, and teaching the math TEKS of course. More focus on open response problems instead of multiple choice answers so that students would work it out and show their work. Strategies such as "bubbling as you work", skipping a problem that was taking too long and coming back to it if there was time. Boy, some students do not want to move on if they don't have an answer! Resources had to be found or created so that there were more problems on which to practice their skills.
I prepared for STAAR with more emphasis on problem solving questions and asking my students why they were answering quesitons the way they were. I wanted to make sure they understood why they were choosing the operations they chose to answer questions. I also did my best to not teach clue words, but to teach them to look at the action words in the problems to help determine operations and to break up the problems by taking each statement and understanding what was going on.
I tried to prepare my class for the STAAR by being more selective in regards to offering problem solving questions...for example, I limited how many problems I gave them to practice, but I chose higher level multi-step problems that the kids could practice breaking down systematically to determine what they needed to do to solve them. Also, as we have had lots of training with Margaret Kilgo, I teach my kids the 4 levels of questions and I have them identify the level of each problem they come in contact with. I will sure be happy when valid STAAR resources become more available...
I chose to prepare my students for the STAAR by using problems that required them to explain their findings. The students learned that when they came up with a solution they also needed to give an explanation. Many times they found simple mistakes that cost them many points....this process helped them to always justify their solutions.
Debbie
Like you, I tried to select a few good problems rather than a lot of mediocre problems. That way students had to work from beginning to end logically.
Christy
Well, as a "baby" math teacher I don't have much to go on. I spent a lot of time encouraging my students to read through each question carefully. To work out each step required and show all their work. I used a lot of old resources because that is what we have, however I look forward to working with all these great teachers with awsome ideas to strengthen my test preparation for next year.
Not knowing this year was a challenge. We knew it had more rigor but that is about all. We tried more rigor with our benchmarks as well as our mock test. We used Cscope assessments which I felt were pretty good benchmarks. I created our mock test and used questions that were released for STAAR and some other materials that we had purchased. I followed the guidelines from STAAR with the amount of questions for each section that was to be on the real STAAR. This was really all we could do with not really knowing. We purchased some different books, but who knows which ones were really the best ones. We did do the 4 hours of time and practiced that each time with a lunch break after 2 hours.
Our grade level purchased the STAAR Master Book and we used that for our STAAR preparation for the 3 weeks before the test, in addition to any STAAR release materials we could find. It basically took the old TAKS Master questions and just bumped up the rigor a notch or two. I felt it was a good resource to use with our students. We also used CScope six weeks tests and benchmarks. These were a lot harder than our students were used to, so I felt like these showed our students the intense rigor of the upcoming STAAR Test. We also dealt with the time factor. Our students were used to taking their time (all day if need be) to work on the test. We actually timed each one of their benchmarks to show them exactly how much time they would have. At the beginning, some of my students did not finish, but we worked on their staying on task and focusing so that by the real test, time would not be a factor.
The difference in preparing our students for this year STAAR then TAKS from last year is the rigor part. You're probably thinking "What do you mean?" The TEKS were changed from six objectives to five categories. The problem solving were put into the five categories. The questions were changed from one to two step operations to three step operations. The students need to know what they read and how to solve the questions using the right operation. This year we learned about the Readiness and Supporting of each category. We made a chart of the categories and TEKS and highlighted the Readiness with the students so they could know what they have to know for the next grade level. We mentioned to the students that Readiness means "Are you ready for 4th grade?" and Supporting means what you've learned from last year and what we are adding to it for next year. The materials we used to get our students ready were the Testmaker, TAG,TMDS, and DMAC. It is broken down by the TEKS and Readiness or Supportive. We felt that the scores from the STAAR will be low and we are not looking at that, but on what the students learned and will use for next year. We feel we are in limbo and and won"t know for sure what to expect until TEA can tell us if we are going in the right direction.
Preparation for EOC....typing a set of cheat notes (easy to follow set of notes on a single sheet) that cover all 5 categories with examples for each, and EOC study camps.
I had a class with 16 freshmen and 7 sophomores, so I was in a unique and hopefully one time only situation. I had to prepare my Sophomores for TAKS and my Freshmen for EOC. While the Sophomores were doing TAKS, I was teaching my Freshmen constructions and non-euclidean geometry(or at least going over it more intensely). While they were working on that I was helping my Sophomores with TAKS. We did a timed benchmark on line for our Freshmen. We made it very challenging. My students said the benchmark was harder than the EOC.
We started giving timed tests. 6 Weeks tests and other tests had to be finished in a certain time period. No more taking as long as you want just cause....!
We worked on strategies, looked at data from assessments, used TEKS/TAKS material, small group tutorials at 3:00 PM, computer programs like Compass Odyssey & Success Maker, use of foldables, manipulatives, and hands on activities, group discussions of how problems could be solved differently, and continuous questioning of what other question could this problem ask. It was a constant ongoing process involving higher order thinking questions.
M. Villarreal
To better prepare students for their STAAR tests, I tried to work on problem solving skills with my students. I worked on having my students look carefully at all of the information given and analyze the questions. With my change in teaching assignment to Science only, I only had Math students for tutorials, however, the problem solving strategies would help the students with all three of their tests.
I have 9th, 10th and 11th graders all in the same class, so I have students taking TAKS and EOC. Of course the most important thing is to teach the TEKS with increased rigor for everyone. I spent alot of time updating six week benchmarks to make sure we were testing the TEKS at the same rigor. I felt it would benefit my freshman to review TAKS with the sophomores and juniors. These are valuable skills needed for Geometry and their upcoming Algebra II class. While the sophomores and juniors were taking TAKS tests we gave our freshman practice EOC tests. We also went in depth on constructions and non-Euclidean Geometry at this time. Then we started reviewing all various geometry concepts using projects and practice EOC questions. I made the sophomores and juniors review for the EOC with the freshman. This should help them with their upcoming semester exam.
Re: 4th Six Weeks Required Discussion
Because I teach in a private school, we do not administer the TEKS or STARR tests. We do administer the ITEBS in Sept. as a diagnostic tool. Unfortunately, it only shows what the students have retained from 5th grade in another school after a 2-month long vacation. I do incorporate TAKS questions in class discussion in order to increase their analytical skills.