Thursday, March 1, 2007

Last Game in the Standardized Practice Series

I finished the last in my series of games gearing my students up to the extended written response question on the upcoming CSAP exams. (See my post on the third round). Both of my English 9 classes won (one just barely)their competition with SAP, and I was amused at how personally they had taken this four week battle. They came into class with a vengeance after losing last week and were ecstatic when they won. What I am more proud of are the students who have transferred their knowledge to their writing. I've given them some pushes here and there to apply what they have learned from each other in their own writing. I wish I could say that all have done this without prompting, but that is not the case; however, some students improved their writing with this being the only "formal" writing instruction on refining details. Next week I will urge the students to apply this to their standardized test answers.

While I started this activity with the intention of helping my students do better on the extended written response of CSAP (these being our "trouble" scores for our building), I have found this to be an effective teaching tool for writing in general. I'm going to work on incorporating more aspects of writing and the framework of the game.

I think that this was successful because of a few factors. I will do a quick survey in class to see what my students think, but here are my initial observations/perceptions:
1. There were two levels of competition - students were in small teams, but also were a part of the class team as a whole. This lead to more encouragement between teams.
2. Because the game became increasingly more difficult, students were not bored each week (which was my biggest fear) and needed to use what they did before, but take it to a higher level
3. They liked having a set, attainable goal to beat

I'd like to hear from other teachers on their comments on what I have done, their use of competition or unique ideas to practice for standardized tests.

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