Saturday, September 25, 2010

From Where to Where We Have Moved: A Month's Worth of Progress

On some levels, it is not difficult to understand that we are approaching one month of our journey being completed. Yet, on some other levels, it is really quite amazing to consider that one month of our time has come to pass. With such a benchmark, I thought I would devote this blog entry to examining potential dialogues that stakeholders can have with their children to ensure that the progress that will be made in the remaining months is as impressive or even exceeds the progress already made.
7th Grade Stakeholders
Our major grades have been the Trace Fossil Paper and the Quiz on 5-1. If students wish to revise their Trace Fossil Papers, Monday is the deadline to submit all revisions with originals attached. If this is an area that need to be explored, I would suggest opening a dialogue about whether or not they are going to take advantage of revisions of this paper would be a good commencement point. The 5-1 quiz will be returned on Monday and revisions of this are due on Monday, 10/4. Additionally, Scholarly Sparknotes Visuals and work needs to be done or submitted on Wednesday. This will be worth quite a few points and discussing with students where they are and whether they will be able to successfully meet Wednesday's deadline would be another good talking point. After this, students will close out Chapter 5 and have an exam on Chapter 5 on the week of 10/11. It is important for all stakeholders to ensure that the patterns of success that have been demonstrated thus far are replicated as the work becomes more arduous in terms of focusing on American History. If these patterns have not been fully developed, I would open a dialogue with your student as to how these successful behaviors can be more present. Perhaps, this involves spending time with me at lunch, or seeking a teacher out in being a greater advocate for one's learning. Another level might be examining how in class focus can be harnessed in a more precise manner. These talking points are critical in ensuring that success is not something that is elusive, but real and demonstrated in a powerfully apparent manner.

8th Grade Stakeholders
I think that all discussions with our 8th graders should focus on the Constitution Exam that is set to take place on the 20th and 21st of October. As we approach to deadline, more details about the exam will follow. Yet, we have just finished our first quiz on the Constitution and this can be an excellent starting point for discussions. The grades represented a striking parity in both classes. 60% of our 8th Graders scored an 80% or above on the quiz. If your student is in this majority, I think that there can be some intense congrats delivered. This quiz and the ones that will follow each week are extremely difficult. Students who scored at this level have a good grasp of their memorization and studying technique. Obviously, some refining might be needed, but I think it's fair to say that they are on their way of finding success on the Constitution Exam. Perhaps, they might want to revise their score to earn back points or achieve a higher grade. I certainly think this is a good thing. We had a handful of students score a C on the quiz. For these students, I think that a good examination point might be to assess where they made their mistake on the quiz. Which part seemed to give more trouble? Were their mistakes on the Legislative Branch portion, the Executive Branch, or the Goals or Principles? Assessing where mistakes were made and what happened will prove to be so beneficial. For these students, a modification in studying might be a good step to take. Revising these scores would also be good to improve academic standing as well as content grasp. With this, we approach our last group of students. These students scored poorly on this first quiz. They scored lower than a 70%. I think that some strong reflection is going to be needed on this front. Something happened on this quiz. At the same time, something needs to be changed. Students who are in this condition have to reassess how they study and the time devoted to studying. The idea of developing flash cards, attending study sessions, and ensuring that nightly focus on reviewing concepts is present might be where these discussions should proceed. The fact is that students who did not fare well on this quiz need to be vigilant about improvement because this quiz and those that follow are a very good indication of the actual exam on the 21st and 22nd.

As we progress to the half way point of the first trimester and all the responsibilities that go with it, I think that parents/ guardians have to be a part of the developing formulas for success. We, as teachers, are limited when we don't have the dialogues we develop in class emphasized outside of it. I encourage all of you to reach out to your emerging scholars in the hopes of them receiving the same messages both in the classroom and outside of it. Please know that I will be happy to help out in any way possible. Please do not hesitate to contact me at school or at my home if I can help in the opening and development of these lines of communication that can enhance student success, and advancement into scholarship.
All best and happy hunting.
Mr. Kannan

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