Friday, March 27, 2015

Timed Tests and Turquoise

Once or twice a week, the second graders take a timed test of math facts.  There are 100 questions and they have 5 minutes to complete it.  The questions must be answered in the order in which they appear on the test.  You are not allowed to skip around.  Each teacher has different rules for determining how a student moves up to the next level.  I know when I attended Emily's open house back in the fall, her teacher stated that once a student received a 95 or greater three times in a row, he or she could advance to the next level.  I'm not sure what the rules are in Anna's and Allie's classes.  Anna thinks you just need to score a 100 once.

The girls were holding their own with the tests in the fall.  Shortly after school started back up after the Christmas break, we were told that all students regardless of their scores would be moving up to the next test level.  They were supposed to be practicing math facts for five minutes each night.  Now, five minutes can move pretty fast and because I was super busy with work, I was relying on the girls to take responsibility for that practice by going through flash cards or via an app on Grammy's phone.  The transition to the next level proved to be a bit difficult for the girls.  On the first test, Allie got hung up on 21-9 and only scored a 12.

So I took matters into my own hands.

There are two different versions of the test and the advantage to having three kids in three different classrooms is that I had both versions.  Our math fact practice turned into me sitting with each of them separately every night, even on the weekends, and practicing those math facts.  100 facts each sitting.  8+5 is a fact that just wasn't sticking so I created a repetitive song and dance using a stuffed animal.  8 plus 5 is 13.  8 plus 5 is 13.  8 plus 5 is 13.  One night, Emily just kept looking at 8+5.  I almost fell asleep waiting for her answer.  Finally, I asked, "Emily, you don't remember the song?"  "Oooohhhh. 13"  "Why do you think I've had stuffed animals singing and dancing all over the house?"

The girls are all getting high scores now.  Emily's pencil broke during her test on Tuesday so by the time she sharpened it, she couldn't catch up and only scored an 80.  "Why didn't you just grab a crayon, anything really, and just keep going?"  They all laughed at that because apparently, a boy in Allie's class last year had done just that with a pink crayon, which everyone had found hysterical.

After the parent/teacher conference with Anna's teacher in December and the IEP meeting in January, we had all agreed that maybe Anna would benefit from some additional help in math.  There was concern with her organization, memory and processing several steps at a time and although the average of her math scores was good, there were times that she scored low.  (The low scores would be offset with the very high ones.)  The school likes to be proactive and step in before a child falls, not after. Anna and I have been working really hard on her math facts and unfortunately, she missed a few of the timed tests due to doctor's appointments and then she was out sick.  I knew she was going to kick butt on her next test and she did.  She scored a 99 on her test last Friday!!!  Take that, hydrocephalus!  The extra help in math was simply working in a different group in class during math lessons and after that score and her recent in-class graded work, she no longer needs to be in that group.  She was so excited to tell me and called it her "big news."

One of the spelling words last week was turquoise.  It was a challenge word and only given to the kids who scored well on the pre-test on Monday.  A boy in one of their classrooms announced that his dad didn't even know how to spell it.  That was a challenge word all right.

1 comment:

Emily Richmond said...

Those math facts drills were my elementary school nightmare. Here's something I wrote about girls and timed math tests (and why the "boys are better" perception might not hold water):