Wednesday, March 16, 2011

High Expectations

As a teacher, you hear it all the time, if you expect the most from your students they will achieve them. My problem with this sage wisdom is, how? I never know exactly how to go about doing this.

I had the opportunity to teach in a STEM elementary program for 4th and 5th graders. As this year was my fifth as a teacher, my experience came from high school and middle school. Needless to say, fifth grade has been an adjustment.

While I prepare each lesson, I try to be mindful of maintaining a high level of rigor, using Bloom's Taxonomy verbiage and asking open ended questions. I did this as a middle school teacher and this is something I do everyday in elementary school. I work with kids who are the brightest and the best, and it is my duty to challenge them with quality lessons.

I take many of the lessons I used to teach in middle school and use them in elementary school. Often times when I am creating a test, I will go to my 7th grade questions and see if any of them fit.

Yes, my tests are hard and so is my questioning. At one point this year, one of my GT/ESL kids raised his hand and said, "Mrs. Campbell, you are talking like an expert scientist, and I don't understand. Can you speak like an elementary school scientist?" Luckily, they aren't afraid to ask questions and I really do appreciate their feedback.

Sadly, the only thing we can use to measure if our kids are really learning is our state tests. We had our second round of benchmarks (which is like a practice round of state tests) before spring break and the other teacher who is in the 5th grade STEM program and I, we have found our kids did quite well.

I will keep you posted when we have the "real thing" and the test results come out. But for now, I will keep planning my lessons and expecting 100% from my students.

They can do it, sometimes they need a little assistance--but that's why I am there.

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