We are already into week number three of the school year in my neck of the woods. The school year is divided into four nine-week semesters. Week number four, which is looming in front of me, is the magical time when midterm grades are entered and each student’s progress is analyzed.
While many students start the year off with a bang and do very well, many struggle with suddenly having three or four different teachers and having to learn to deal with taking notes, and actually using a textbook. Please remember though, I don’t teach based on the textbook. My students use it as just one of many tools to access content, and since they are nine and ten years old part of my efforts involve teaching them HOW to use a textbook, and to extend their skills with informational reading.
By this time students have completed our first unit of study….Native Americans….and have submitted their notebook for a grade. I usually take a few classwork grades, a project grade, a quiz or two, as well as homework checks. It’s a very busy four week period. If a student ends the first four weeks of a semester with a grade of 79 or below the follow slip is sent home for parental review. This notice reaches parents BEFORE the actual midterm is handed out.
Native Americans Test Grade _______
Notebook Grade ______
Midterm Average _____
I’m sending you this note because I am concerned regarding your child’s performance on our unit test given this past Friday. The test had been announced for several days and had been listed on my board for students to record a reminder to study in their agendas. Students also had a review sheet with every question and answer for the test in their possession to study. Each unit begins with a study guide that has all the important information you might need as parent to help oversee your child’s study.
Students cannot simply listen to me in class and “get it”. They must work with the material on their own by completing the classwork and homework assignments, and by creating and turning in their Native American project. They must review their notes and reread sections of the text on their own to grasp the concepts. Many times during the week I have students write in their agendas “Review or study notes.” Please help me by checking the agenda daily and by asking your child to see their notebook. It would also be to your child’s benefit if they brought home their Social Studies text in order to reread material we have already read in class. This study time should take no longer than 15-20 minutes. It would help students a great deal in focusing more on the concepts we are studying. I appreciate your assistance.
I print these out on half-sheets of paper and staple them into the child’s agenda and follow up with phone calls when necessary. For parents who have children with grades below 70 this midterm note from me is not the first time they have ever heard from me. I would have already contacted them during the second or third week of school to voice my concern.
It is ludicrous to believe that you can garner a parent’s support and partnership by remaining silent for four weeks, and then allow a midterm report to express that a student is having problems.
Another classroom management topic that is appropriate for this time of the year involves classroom procedures. You can read my past posting regarding my classroom syllabus here and here.