Instructional Innovations

MCHS Newsletter: Week of March 21

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Agh! Testing...Run For Your Lives

There is probably not a single one of us (okay, maybe Dallas Cowne) who gets excited when standardized test roll around. They are a big cause of anxiety among both teachers and students. I believe that a huge part of this anxiety comes from the fact that we can't control what's on the test--often times we have little information to go on as we prepare kids. Whenever I feel like I have no control, I like to focus on the little things that I can control. One of the big things we can control during testing involves engaging our students with the assessment.

We've already taught the curriculum to the best of our ability and given students opportunities to display their knowledge of the curriculum. Now it's time to teach our students how to prepare for big, rigorous tests. We have a lot of students who don't know how to eliminate wrong answers on multiple choice or who don't know how to create their own test taking strategy once they begin. We have to help them build their testing competence.

Engaging Kids in State Assessments (seems like a paradox, huh?)

  • Teach your students the format of the test so that they aren't surprised test day.
  • Use testing language in your classroom to familiarize kids with the lingo.
  • Practice with mini-assessments modeled after the final test. Model for kids how to answer multiple choice. Give them strategies for the writing portions (ACE).
  • When kids take practice tests via or through other venues, have them set goals to increase their achievement. I like to make a game out of it and award students who show high growth in their test practice. *Also, don't discount sites like They have their own purpose and can help kids be more successful on their exams.
  • Make actual test goals with your students. Let them be accountable for how they will score by setting a goal. Then help your students come up with a plan to achieve the goal. Here's an example: My goal is to receive an 80 or higher on the American Literature EOC. I know that my writing is strong, so I will focus most of my studying on multiple choice preparation that centers around reading and analyzing informational texts. My study plan is...

I wish there was a magical way to ensure the success of all our students as they take standardized tests. If there was, I'd give everyone a unicorn and sprinkle knowledge into students' heads like it was pixie dust. Then we'd ride out and use our knowledge to do more important things, like change the world. For now, our kids are testing. Let's do the best we can in sprinkling our own pixie dust.

Caught in the Act...

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So much goes on behind the scenes at MCHS to keep students in classrooms and give teachers the opportunity to teach. A huge part of this work is done by our lovely counselors: Lari Scarborough (9th), Monica Allen (10th), Sarah Owen (11th), Angelia Bruce (12th), and Shannon Felt (registrar). I cannot even begin to list all that they do to help our kids be successful.

This week's "Caught in the Act..." recipient is Sarah Owen, our current 11th grade counselor and our testing co-coordinator. Ms. Owen, a former graduate of MCHS, has been a part of the counseling staff for six years. She has three, sweet dogs who she loves very, very much. Her office is located next to Berta which she enjoys since she can't bring her dogs to work.

Along with Mr. Berryman, Ms. Owen is gearing up for testing season--the first of which all students will take EOCs online. Yikes! The following is important testing information from Ms. Owen.

Testing: To simplify matters I've made class sets for each EOC practice test. I gave Ms. Little the sets for the 9th grade tests, and I have the sets for all other tests in my office. When teachers are ready to use the practice test, they can just pop in and get the directions and tickets. They do have to use computers with the DRC Insight software on them to access the practice (I think all labs and most carts have been set up at this point).

The test dates are as follows:

May 5th AM-US History PM--9th Lit part 1

May 6th AM-Economics PM--9th lit part 2

May 9th AM-Geometry PM--9th lit part 3

May 10th AM-Algebra PM--Am. Lit part 1

May 11th AM-Biology PM-Am Lit part 2

May 12th AM-Phy. Sci PM-Am. Lit part 3

Makeups-May 13th and 16th.

*Geometry and Algebra have been switched from the previous schedule.

Our attendance on the actual test days has sometimes been poor (which puts a huge amount of stress on people doing makeups), so it's very important that we make sure that kids know that they need to be here on the actual test day and not rely on the makeup days.

Mr. Berryman is working on the daily schedule for test days--lunches may have to be modified slightly to ensure we have enough time for the afternoon tests. That information will come out likely after spring break.

Just For Fun...

Sorry, stuff like this makes me laugh. :) I'll get back to your requests next week.
Bone Thugs-n-Harmony | Tha Crossroads | Sesame Street Version

Melissa Conway, ISL

Tell me what NKOTB (not to be confused with NCLB) stands for, and I'll leave you a surprise in your box.