Well, today was our first day of CST exams. I like these tests because I use the time to catch up on stuff (while I’m monitoring the students, of course). I’m not too crazy about the History section of the exam, mainly because my students are not just tested on what they have learned this year, but also on the previous two years. The 8th grade exam has questions from 6th, 7th and 8th grade standards. It’s hard enough to find the time to reach all the 8th grade standards, but to be responsible for 6th and 7th also is too much. The kids complain every year about how they don’t remember the information from the previous years, and I don’t blame them. I tell them to do their best and to try and pick the most logical answer. Unfortunately, when the results of the History test are posted, my name is right there. I used to stress about this, but not anymore. I do my best to make sure they know the 8th grade section of the test, and if I do this, I’ll be O.K.
Today’s Tip for New Teachers: Always have some kind of quiet activity ready for those students who finish their tests early. Today, I gave students an option to either read a book or work on a wordsearch that I created. Without this, students will start talking and making noise while other students are still testing. They need something specific to do. Wordsearches are easy and you can create them online for free. Go to http://www.puzzlemaker.com/ and create your own puzzle. I like to use interesting topics and words to give the students a little more motivation to choose the puzzle. Today’s topic was, “What You Find in Students’ Lockers”. I know that reading is more “educational,” but the students who are most prone to finish early and talk are those students who probably won’t choose to read a book. That is why I always have this other option.