Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Today we had a practice test for the statewide math exam. We have one of these about once a month, and it's always quite an experience. Today we had some of the normal obstacles, including the two most common in my classroom.

Obstacle One: NYC Dept. of Ed. pencils, aka the cheapest pencils on the planet. Basically, the second you pick up the pencil it breaks. At first I was pleased to be receiving so many free pencils, but I soon realized that they're free because there is no way any office supply store would carry such a poor product.

Obstacle Two: The sounds of my students who have finished the test. While I absolutely love my class this year, my students rank among the snottiest, most asthmatic, most-likely-to-have-deviated-septums children on the planet. They lay their heads down after completing the test and promptly fall asleep. May the force be with you if you are one of the unfortunate students completing the test last as you try to focus through the snoring, congested, snot symphony taking place in my classroom.

This practice test was a little bit different than previous ones. While the obstacles seem minor, they can be enough to make you crazy (especially when you're very concerned about the health of these children.) So when any small success is seen, it's important to celebrate just to feel some sense of balance.

Today, however, was not a small success. It was a huge success. After a mere four weeks of the Math Boot Camp that I have put my students through, they have all improved since the last practice test. Every single child had an increase in score, and four of them had an increase of 20% or more. One of my kids summed it up perfectly. He pointed at me and said to the rest of the class, "I know we did good. The drill sergeant is smiling."

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