Sunday, October 16, 2005

I get to blog!

I did it. I commented on 30 lab reports.

This is a lot, especially because they are early sixth grade lab reports, so they really don't know the conventions (of either the English language or of Ms. Frizzle's lab reports). Sure, I went over my expectations and gave examples on the board and handed out an assignment sheet explaining it all, but they still struggle with it the first few times around. By 8th grade I have to write so much less on their first drafts.

What do I write?

Nice title page!

Use a ruler to make your chart neater, and leave yourself more space.

Okay, but you need to give specific examples from your data as proof!

Break this up into several steps - it is too much for one step.

Good procedure! Very clear! But you also have to explain how to measure your hands, arms, feet, and head.


I also circle spelling errors, mark missing or unnecessary commas, help kids improve their phrasing, mark capitalization errors, remind them (constantly!) that questions have to end in question marks, mark missing periods, and spot check their data for measurements that don't make sense (feet that are 220 cm long, for example). They cannot always fix those measurements, but at least they become aware that you have to pay attention to whether your results are logical.

My hands & neck are all cramped... and I have about 35 more to go. The goal is 15 per day, so that I can give them back mid-week, do a little modeling of how to fix common mistakes, and then have the final drafts due on Friday. Then I get to spend next weekend grading - yippee!

I will say this: these kids are starting out at a much higher level than any previous sixth grade classes I've taught. Way more of them DID get the conventions than I expected. One or two turned in papers that are nearly final draft quality! Wow. And their spelling and grammar are better, overall, then I'm used to seeing from sixth graders (or even a lot of 7th & 8th graders).

I don't know what this means.

It could mean that my school is building a reputation and is attracting higher-caliber students. Definitely a possibility.

It could mean that kids across the Region are generally better-prepared than they used to be. This is possible and would seem to align with the slowly-rising test scores.

It could be that I'm getting better at modeling things and giving directions. This might explain why more kids picked up the lab report conventions, but it can't explain the better spelling & grammar.

It could be a bit of all these things.

All I can say is, I have been consistently impressed with this crop of sixth graders.

And tomorrow, I get to take 30 of them to see Alvin Ailey! (I whined so much about never getting to go on any field trips thanks to teaching two grades that the other teachers sat down and we figured out how to make it work so I could go on this one. I'm not proud of the whining but I am SO happy to get to go!).

*****

Using blogging as self-bribery is really effective, by the way. Not only did I NOT distract myself every three lab reports by playing on the internet, I was very motivated to get them done because I wanted to report back here. Of course, I also used ice cream and phone calls to friends as bribes. It can take a lot of bribery to make me want to read 75 of the same thing.

1 Comments:

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