Monday, April 11, 2011

Goodbye Spring Break; I'll miss you.

Today marks the last day of spring break.  It always goes by too quickly.  Tomorrow--I go back to browbeating my seniors all the way to graduation and I go back to transforming the freshmen into sophomores.

Only 33 days to graduation and somehow I have to figure out how to condense the remaining curriculum into that short amount of time.

Of those 33 days, five are for state assessment and three more are for final exams.  That works out to 22 more class meetings for the seniors before their final exams and since we're on an alternating block, that's 11 more class meetings for my individual seniors.  My freshmen only have 26 school days which works out to 13 class meetings prior to final exams.

The seniors have at least one more paper to write and two more novels to read.  The freshmen need to finish Romeo & Juliet, read the Odyssey and some non-fiction selections as well as tackling their first research paper.

I'm afraid that I'm going to have to cut some stuff...which I hate.  They're not going to get to watch Romeo & Juliet this year during class.  They're going to be disappointed.  I currently have them completely hooked on Shakespeare.  Maybe we can do an after-school movie day or something.  I usually show the modern adaptation and we have a very interactive viewing experience.  I usually have to pause the DVD for them to rant on the changes the director made. It is always enjoyable to see what they know--beyond what is on the test.

Plus the five days of state assessment break up the instruction which is difficult for the students.  I'm really worried about how the freshmen will handle that with the research paper.  This is the first time they've had to write a research paper and they are terrified of it.  They've watched the upperclassmen stress over their papers and so it makes them very nervous. I'm pushing to get the bulk of it complete before the testing window but I don't want to overwhelm them.

The seniors aren't tested during the spring assessment and so they just play for five days--which makes it difficult to get any work out of them for the rest of the term.  By that point, they have one foot out the door. I save the fun & competitive units for them. 

Thankfully this year, we're not dragging the assessment out over two weeks.  In previous years, administration feared that condensing the testing into a week would result in a drop in scores. I'm not sure why.  In most cases, the students just want to get it over with.  They've had test prep drilled into their heads all year; they've already endured a fall, winter & early spring testing window. Dragging it out just makes it worse.