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Is this a me problem or a student problem?

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mrteacherguy mrteacherguy is offline
 
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Is this a me problem or a student problem?
Old 02-03-2018, 03:38 PM
 
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I've been teaching 6th grade science for the last four years, the first two years my students did really well on our district benchmarks (one year making the most growth in the district). But when it comes to grades and the daily stuff, a large number of the kids tend to do poorly (especially the last year and this year).

My administrators and academic coaches tell me that I know my content, I know how to teach, it's the relationships with the students/families that isn't in place the way it should be. The some of the parents seem to think that I'm not a good teacher, because their child is getting bad grades for the first time.

As an example, we recently spent about two weeks studying the layers of the atmosphere; we did fill-in-the-blank style notes on the first day and looked at a computer simulation that took us through the different layers. On the following days we read a chapter out of book, did daily review questions as a class, they had several homework assignments, we put together a pie chart on the composition, and then they spent several days making flip-books/foldables about the layers of the atmosphere.

Throughout all of this, those students that did the work and were paying attention (and I'm assuming studying/reviewing at home) did well on the assignments and test, but the majority of them - who rarely turn in or complete homework - did poorly.

Is this a failing on my part? I know that I've got a lot of growing to do as a teacher (I'm in my fifth year), but I feel like if we've gone over the information multiple times and in multiple ways, it's on the students to put in the effort to know that information.


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Old 02-03-2018, 10:15 PM
 
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Yes, it really should be on the students to put in the effort. However, there are plenty who just won't. Then you have to ask what can be done to make the students care about doing the work. The relationships part is probably what needs to be addressed. Middle school kids will do just about anything for people who care about them. The trick is that they need consistency, which they interpret as fairness, and that comes with practice.
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Old 02-04-2018, 06:44 AM
 
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I taught 6th for 9 years and feel like it’s the grade where to have to grow up and realize that grades are earned. It sounds like you are doing all the right stuff when I comes to teaching the information, but after the test, you can see a huge difference between the students who studied and who didn’t. I would spend some time teaching studying skills: showing them and giving them time to make flash cards, how to review notes, how to self-quiz yourself, etc. eventually you won’t have o waste classroom time on this but for now they need to learn HOW to study.

And I also echo everything Ima said. Building that relationship is so important. That will help when it comes to the homework issue too. Pick a few kids who are “potentials” and spend two minutes a day just talking to them about their interests. Get to know them as people outside of being your student. That will help you build the relationship and from there the work/effort may come more easily on their behalf.
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Study Guide?
Old 02-16-2018, 11:49 AM
 
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What if you create a study guide that goes along with the material and test? I have study guides for each Science and Social Studies test. The students have to use their notebooks to complete questions which is helping them study. We check the study guide a few days before the test to make sure they have the correct answers. You could even have a parent signature spot on it to help make sure the parents know that a test is coming up.

My son is in 7th grade and his Science teacher has something called Parent/Teach. He has to teach us concepts he is learning in class and we sign a page each week that shows that he has taught us these concepts. It is usually something that doesn't take more than a few minutes, but we can ask questions if we feel that he doesn't quite understand something.
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Old 02-25-2018, 11:25 AM
 
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I am also a 6th grade science teacher and I really enjoy 6th grade. (25 years teaching ms science)

Are you in a lab or regular classroom? Elementary or middle school? Do you meet the students at the door or do they just come in? Do your students have access to technology 1:1 or just occasionally?

What does a period in your class look like? You mentioned reading a chapter out of the book. Did the students do this silently or was this done as a class orally? You then mentioned that the next day doing the review questions as a class. What are they struggling with? vocab? content? scientific principles?

Maybe change it up the routine a bit?
Warm-up to start off. Then have students silently read different sections and then share with their table partner or group? Switch to another group and share. Then as whole group quickly reiterate the important content that you wanted them to get from the reading. Show a quick video clip that also ties into the same content. Exit ticket and as they leave you know which ones got it and which didn't. Assign vocabulary to be completed over several days. (You can even give a variety of options on the way it is to be done....frayer model, make a crossword puzzle, flash cards, cartoon, etc.)

Next day complete a foldable or interactive notebook visual.

Have students complete a Google form cfa to see where the students are on the content. (maybe 10 questions)

Introduce new content that is included in the upcoming test.

Vary how it is introduced this time. Use a nearpod that includes video clips, interactive as well as the notes.

Do a station lab (make your own or use one of those from teachers pay teachers).

Do another cfa to see where students are with the new material and loop a question or two back to the previous material.

Then post a variety in google classroom (interactives or hyperdocs, gizmos, quick video, extension) for those that a doing well. Then work in small groups with those that are struggling. Use card sorts and other review type materials.

Our study guides consist of the standards (in Texas it is the TEKS that we cover with that content). Students are expected to define the academic vocabulary, explain their understanding of the content, and draw visual diagrams of each. We usually give this to the students a week before their test date. This let's me know how much effort students have put into learning the material and it also let's parents know that maybe if Jimmy put more effort into copleting his review sheet, he would have done better on his test.

I don't generally give homework per se, but if I have students work on an assignment outside of classtime, I give several days. Students have so many extracurricular things going on or other circumstances out of their control these days.

Do you have a website where you post what's going on in your class or at least have materials accessible to students? Great communication tool.

Best of luck. You felt successful the first two years, what has changed? You will be again.


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