Assembling your Crew: Getting the Best out of your Students and Coaches

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1. Be honest with yourself

Before any endeavor is undertaken, make sure you know who you are and who you aren’t.  Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses as a criminal…I mean, instructor and seek out resources that can help you in your areas of opportunity and people you can aid with your strengths. Not being honest can lead directly to being caught.  Reflective teachers are master planners. You’ve got instructional coaches at your disposal. Use them.

2. Exploit Social Networks for Professional Gain

Collaboration is key to any heist.  There’s a criminal underworld for a reason.  That’s the way connections are made.  Many teachers are facing the prospect of the SBAC, why not see if they have ideas on how to crack the safe?  There are weekly Twitter Chats, Google+ Circles, Pinterest boards, Facebook sites, and, of course, groups on Edmodo and Schoology that one can mine for interesting strategies for how to best instruct given the new challenge.  You might even create relationships with others that could lead to future successes.

3. Don’t forget the crew that you have

You already have a bunch of individuals who figure pretty heavily in your success in this endeavor: your students!  Don’t forget that they are the most important component of this entire hustle.  Make sure they are involved in the planning and implementation of SBAC activities.

One of the things you might try is this.

  1. If you haven’t exposed them to the practice assessments, make sure they have a opportunity to do so.  Before you do, make sure you’ve play around on the site.  You don’t need logins or anything.
  2. Have your students begin on the assessment that is the year BELOW them*.  There are two assessments available- math and ELA. Don’t give them any special instructions.  Just let them play on the site and see what happens.  Prepare a document, have students bring a notebook, or create an online survey that students will use in order to record notes, issues they might have, successes and failures with the level of rigor or the interface.
  3. Once you return to class, have students converse about their experiences. Use collaborative strategies and digital tools to make a record. This will inform any planning you will do in the future.
  4. The next time you go to the computer lab, use a projector to walk your students through the issues they had the previous time. This will make sure the you aren’t concentrating on your students learning “the tool” when they take the test.
  5. Make sure to utilize the instructional resources available on the the SBAC website to inform your instruction outside of the computer lab.

*If you start with the test that is a year below your grade level, you’ll be able to use 4 tests (2 below, 2 on grade level) to do your practicing on the computer.  Well, everyone except our third grade friends.

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