Monday, April 25, 2011

back to school, back to reality

Let's look at a pretty picture even if (and especially if) we're back to reality that is full of rain, cold temperatures, and standardized testing.

Our state tests begin next week. I started "formal" preparation lessons the week before spring break by distributing a packet with exam information, sample/practice test questions, and review terms. Our class lessons did not involve the packet much - we were still busy with Book Club, Reader's Theater, etc. This week, I'm spending more time explaining the format of the state test, giving small chunks of practice tests, discussing and applying test-taking strategies, etc.

This is my attitude that I hope to successfully project in class: Hey folks, this is coming up, be ready, don't be anxious, doing your best is worth the effort, work hard like you always do, it's not the only important thing in our class, we'll wrap up Book Club and start a new round of Book Club next week, so be ready to love literature!

PS - I am absolutely in LOVE with Book Club, formerly known in my classroom as literature circles. The key is BOOKS - enough copies of good books. Sometimes I arrange the groups, based on book preferences (of the students) and my own teacher judgment of group dynamics, but right now they're in self-selected groups (and book choices) and doing pretty well. HOW do we find enough books? Our department was very fortunate the past 2 years to spend textbook money on independent reading books. The current/future fiscal outlook is not cheery, so I don't expect a repeat of such literary riches anytime soon. I've started to spend a bit of personal money on classroom books again, and I'll need to hunt book sales earnestly (again). I've thought about just begging, asking book stores/publishers/authors to donate small sets of 4, which is minimally what I need for one Book Club group. I should write a more detailed post on this topic soon because I have a TON to say about it :) :) :)


Kathryn from Schoolmarm Style said...

I want to know so much more about how you've been doing book groups! Also, have you thought about using "donors choose" as a way to get donations?

roller coaster teacher said...

Thanks, Kathryn! I'll check into "donors choose" - the idea of asking for donations gives me hives but I need to get over it!