Thursday, May 5, 2011

Spring Break and Beyond

Most of April we were on spring holiday.  However, we met several times at the end of April and beginning of May.  I found that students' are becomming more comfortable with me and each other.  The process I have been using has changed drastically.  In the past, I presented some information about the topic of the article, went over vocabulary, and went over the skills covered by the activity questions.  I found this very time consuming.  Students were flooded with information and by the time they got to the activity questions, time was almost used up, and students were rushing through.
Recently, I have tried reading the story outloud myself.  I have been giving a brief discription of the main idea of the article, and try have the students' relate the topic to something in their lives.  After each paragraph, we stop briefly and go over the main topics.  I find this has helped.  Upon completion of the article, I read the activity questions and all possible answers.  I have students' choose answers, but help them eliminate some of the poor choices.  I hope this technique helps students' in the future with their multiple choice tests.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Elephant Rescue

Today Ms. Rocha's were unable to attend.  Having only three students I was confident with personalized instruction, those students' should have a great chance of achieving a 75% or higher.  Unfortunately, I was wrong. 
To prepare the students for the activity questions, I broke the article down before the students began reading.  I explained to the students that this rescue occured in WWII, and that the information about it has just recently come to light.  I explained how this rescue was ahead of it's time.  Ingenunity was a constant "buzz" word and also a key vocabulary word.  I drew a diagram of the rescue of the board.  I wrote all the vocabulary words and definitions on the board.  I went over main idea, fact/opinion, and synonyms/antonyms which I have done every day of the kid biz groups.  I also talked about the best strategies for answering questions that have references to the article, (In the article, Based on the article, Which of these statements is found in the article, etc...) by having the article open to go back to.  Look at the choices and one by one eliminate the wrong anwers.  I stressed that it takes a lot of time to do a good job, and re-reading and carefully selecting the right answer usually makes people do better.
With that said, two students' scored a 50%, and one scored a 38%.  We went over the activity questions and answers after this result.  We did not do a thought question or any type of other activites but reading and activity questions.  It's hard to figure out how these scores are so erratic from day to day.  I'm thinking it might have something to do with the students' interest in the articles.  I offered the students' 5 minutes of play time in the gym if all three scored above 65%.  I will continue this for the remainder of the experiment, but will have to change my pre-reading and pre-activity lessons if results continue to be this poor in the future.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sony Wants To Make Your Games

Today's groups were broken up seperately.  First, I had Ms. Fernbach's three students for 45 min and then I had Ms. Rocha's three students for 45 minutes.  Only one of Ms. Fernbach's kid's reached the 75% goal.  I discussed the article, and the topics that are going to be asked about in the questions, but I need to get them prepared more for the activity questions.  We discussed the article briefly before students went to activity questions, and I eliminated the puzzle. 
With Ms. Rocha's three kids there was more success.  All of the students passed with a 75% or higher.  I had very similar pre-activity preparations.  I discussed the article before we read it, and talked about some concepts that will be used during the activity questions.
I believe that actually disecting the activity questions themselves, and taking the activity questions as a unit might improve results.  I'm thinking of using the following formula:

1) Discuss the article with the group without anyone turning on cpu(s)
2) Go over concepts that will come up in the activity questions  ie (main idea, synonyms/antonyms, higher level vocabulary words)
3) Write activity questions on the board, and break the questions down.  This should the students' understand what the questions are asking.  Also, I think introducing strategies for how to go about answering these types of questions should improve results. 

Healthy at What Price?

Today the article provided strategies by the British government to help make people eat healthier and fight the obesity epedemic.  The way I went about instructing the students was give too read the article twice myself.  Before students began reading I actually talked about what the article is about and discussed the vocabulary words that students will come across in the reading.  Only one student fell greatly below 65%.  She was slightly late to class, and I feel might have read through the article a little to quick to be ready for the activity questions.  Students are becoming more focussed which is good, as I am figuring out token rewards to offer the students if they meet 75% or higher on their activity questions.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Puplights Just Right

Today we used the mini-computers and had our lesson in the gym.  I thought I did a really job preparing today.  I read the article twice, and did the activity questions.  Looking at some of the questions, I decided that Main Idea, Synonyms, Fact and Opinion, and Summarizing would be important concepts to discuss before the students read the article or took the activity questions.  I also went over the definition of the  vocabulary words that were used in the article. 
Upon completion of the definitions of the vocabulary words, I explained how the words were connected and fit into the article.  Through his process, I gave a brief summary of the article.  I also explained how the article is relevant to children in their age group.
With all the preparation done today, scores were once again unimpressive.  I feel like students' are still not reading the articles very well.  They seemed to understand most of the prior knowledge before starting, but can't seem to do as well when left by themselves.  No one accomplished 75% or higher today.

Friday, March 25, 2011

First Week

On Tuesday and Wednesday the students were using KidBiz as they normally do. I asked them to raise their hand if they had a question about anything, and to also let me know their scores for each activity. In general, the students were unsure about the same questions—they weren’t sure about the main idea, what an opinion was, or how to figure out what is “most likely to happen.” I asked the students how often they referred back to the article—they all pretty much admitted they didn’t really do this, and one student said they believed they lost points for referring to the article (I’m thinking he was confused with the “second try” opportunity.)  

On Thursday and Friday, we started to spend some time looking over the activity questions and thinking about strategies for finding “the best” answer. Using a printed out KidBiz article, we gathered together to complete the activity.  As we started the questions, I had to continue to remind the students to refer to the article.  I think it’s a matter of habit—they need to get used to referring to the article, thinking about this as something they will do every time they complete an activity, and most likely they will refer to the article more than once. If 2nd grade gets into the habit of referring to the article, this will also be a big boost for the 3rd grade ISAT.

We then looked closely at each question. For instance, the big idea questions usually give answer possibilities that all come from the story (so they are all “true”). The trick is to distinguish between what is a “detail idea” and what is an “umbrella idea.” (Or maybe some people might say the “seed idea” and the “watermelon idea.”) I can see how big ideas can be confusing—but it is great to get 2nd grade started on this now—it will make it so much easier to teach for the ISAT when they are in 3rd grade. We also noticed some key words on the opinion questions—some possible answers start with “some people” or “sometimes people” and other possible answers start with “all people.”  We started to talk about those extreme statements starting with “all people,” and how this is most likely an opinion.  Since we only really began scratching the service of dissecting these questions, we’ll be working more on this next week.    

A Hudson River Hero

Today on we had a small group.  Joanna Nevarez was absent again, which is the second day in a row.  I decided to switch the groups up slightly.  I had Alex Garcia switch with Carissa Roman from Ms. Fernbach's room.  As far as preparation for the article, we had a brief discussion about the plane landing.  I discussed with the students each vocabulary word, and I tried to relate the definition of the words with the vocabulary.  Students seem to understand the words, as I tried to involve each student. 
Some students seem to lose focus when they use KidBiz, and want to skip right to the activity.  I encouraged them to read slowly, and try to understand how the vocobulary words will be used in the article.  This is showing to be troubling for me.  I hope over the course of experiment that this becomes easier for me.