I never got a chance to relax or rest during christmas break, so my first week back was pretty miserable. I guess the kids were also a bit off the wall and things didn't start looking up til around Thursday.
I started a new practice this week which is so obvious, I don't know what took me so long to do it! The topic I'm doing now easily lends itself to a long answer section of the Regents. So I put up my own 4-point Regents rubric on the board, encouraging the kids to get a point or 2 even if they're pretty clueless (as I go over the rubric, I teach them the tricks to earn partial credit even with minimal knowledge.)
The students are eating it up! For about 30 minutes I give the class multiple examples to work on either independently or with their groups and as they finish each one I give them a rubric grades. Kids who I usually get no work from are getting 1 or 2 points, and the really sever special ed students are also able to get at least 2 points using what I taught them.
I've found this to be particularly helpful for my CTT class, because everyone can get involved and see some measure of success, but at the same time the high achieving students strive for perfect 4's and with the immediate grading, they compete with each other for the perfect 4s, and look for errors and correct the work right away when they get anything less.
Ok so speaking of CTT, there was a big meeting on Friday with the principal, AP of special ed, the special ed teacher, 2 paras, the secretary, and guidance counselor. They discussed how the CTT class isn't working well and changes needed to be made next semester. They asked the CTT teacher if they saw the class working well in any subject and she said that only in my class are the SPEDs making progress while the gen ed kids are doing as well as, or better than when they started back in september. she pointed out that they work particularly well in groups in my class, and that i maintain a competitive enviroment that encourages the lower function students to achieve while engaging the higher functioning ones.
I wasn't at this meeting; I had no idea it was even taking place. But for the rest of the afternoon random people came up to me to tell me what a "hit" i was at the SPED meeting. Pretty awesome.
So last week started terribly (I mean there had to be at least 10 times a day that I just stood there staring at my students not knowing what to do because they were so bad!) but it ended pretty successfully. We'll see how next week goes.