from:Klugerman, Rabbi Tzvi

to:6th Grade Chumash

Time Oct. 23, 2013

I will return the first chumash test today and post the grades after the students recieve the tests. The results were not what I had expected from the students. The raw score was out of a maximum 118 points. That score was then adjusted to a percentage. The critical statistical measures that help me determine the fairness of the test are: Range of scores: 8 - 92     Median: 45   Modes:  28, 45    Mean:  45

In reviewing the tests, it appears that the students are missing a few study skills:

Paying attention to the discussion and analysis even when the notes are not immediately written on the board. Many of the students have decided that doodling and playing with little "tchatchkes" help them pay attention. The test scores clearly indicate that these techniques distract rather than focus. I will be quickly restricting these distracting activities in class when it will not disrupt the flow of class, but I am asking that you discuss this with your child.

Writing down the notes when prompted in the appropriate section in their notebook or binder section dedicated to chumash. Some students believe they can absorb the material by osmosis and do not have to write down the notes or word dissections. 

Studying. When I asked some of the students how much they studied they proudly stated, "not much" or "not at all." The students were given many worksheets to help them organize their notes and studying, but regretfully, they often spent a quick break during lunch copying from one another or simply filling in the review sheets as we reviewed in class. Admittedly, the material flows in class, so they may feel they have learned it, but it is clear that they need to prepare for exams. They should make flash cards; work on the review sheets at home, and search their notes for the answers to the review questions, which many of the students did not do. 

Not accept not knowing: Rabbi Cohen a"h demanded of his students that they cannot accept not being clear on a concept or simply not knowing. Sometimes students "go over" the material but do not really try to see if they know the material. This is an essentail study skill for any discipline. As the skills and key words repeat throughout the year, we will have the opportunity to revisit each word, concept, and skill from the first unit.

I am going to be making some changes in the format of the class. We have been emphasizing some basic student behaviors such as coming to class with their chumash, notebook, and pen/pencil. It is still taking time for the students to arrive on time with everything, but we are making progress. 

In reviewing the tests it became apparent that the students are not grasping the big picture as we work on skills. We are now going to have in-class and homework exercises in visualization of the events of the text. Last night, the students were asked to draw or sketch the details of 2 psukim that are critical for understanding the series of events. I was lenient for this first visualization assignment, but many students came to class without their homework, or the sketch done very haphazardly- not in terms of the artisitic effort, but in terms of the attention to detail. We will be working on attention to detail through other modes as well. 

In order to help the students master the material and the skills, we will be having frequent quizes and more alternate assessments. We will experiment to see how the material needs to be chunked to maximize their comprehension and retention. I was initially planning to use the natural divisions of the chumash to organize the units as they are the natural thematic choice, but we will build up to that level. 

Thank you for the pleasure and honor of teaching your children. I have great expectations for them and will enable each student to achieve his or her potential as a chumash student and critical thinker. 

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