In Virginia the 4th graders take 3 tests, called SOLs; one in Reading, one in Math and one in VA Studies. All are taken on the computer.
So last week I did LOTS of online practice with my students. And I left sub plans on Friday and Monday for my substitute to do the same. Then I left Friday morning to attend my younger daughter's graduation at the University of Virginia (where both my husband and I went for our undergraduate degrees and where my husband returned for his Masters in Architecture!! And where our niece, my husband's brother's oldest, was also graduating!). Needless to say, I proudly watched Anne receive her Drama Major and French Minor degree. WHAT A AWESOME WEEKEND I had!!
Then Monday, my substitute taught my class but I actually went to school to attend an IEP meeting and an afternoon Professional Development session, even though it was my day-off. And then I got the room ready for testing....added a mouse to each computer, put up the privacy blinder boards and made sure all the computers were plugged in and able to get to the state testing site and made sure all the teaching anchor-charts were off the walls. Yes, all on my day-off!
Then Tuesday the boring process of watching kids take tests began. Because the tests are all online, Wed we had the results of the reading test. I was happy to see that 48% of my kids scored Advanced-Proficient and 50% scored Proficient. But that means that 2 failed...one scored a 399 (400 is passing) and the other, a 392 (and only hears English at school and Chinese at home but did not qualify for ESOL services). Overall, I'm happy with their reading performance. We are still waiting for the math scores but the Virginia Studies tests on Thursday was 50 multiple-choice questions and in 30 minutes we had the results...sadly 8 failed (30%) but I guess I should be happy that 70% passed and of those, five were Advanced-Proficient. I think I didn't realize the difficulty the kids would have with content vocabulary and these more abstract social studies concepts.
For fun, we have started an ABC Countdown to the end of the year! Tuesday, with 26 more days of school to go, we went outside and made paper airplanes and had a flying contest. Then Wed we blew bubbles and Thur we wore colorful clothes and made a colorful art picture. Friday was the most fun so far - we had a Dance Party! My students can dance!! We made a double line and when we were at the head of it, one from each side danced down the line!!
Taking time to have FUN with my students shows me once again of the importance of building relationships and community. When Jonathan didn't feel like dancing, Yeon Ju told me and together we encouraged him to join in. When one girl didn't have a partner, I became her partner! All felt included. All could safely act silly and take part in the "dance". It may have taken me to the 22nd last day of school but the lesson I learned Friday will stay with me. I MUST do ALL I can in August and September to build a caring, inclusive community. Only then can a perfect lesson plan be implemented! Only then can we learn.