By Laureanna Crump, Baton Rouge Second Year AmeriCorps member proudly serving on the Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation at Kenilworth Science and Technology School. 

In the midst of the LEAP prep frenzy at Kenilworth Science and Technology School (KST), our team decided to dive in heads first to assist our students in any way possible. After spring break, we decided to give up our planning periods and scheduled breaks for the two weeks leading up to KST’s scheduled LEAP testing in order to make ourselves more available for last minute study sessions with our young scholars.

So, exactly how did some of the City Year members at KST use this extra time to benefit the students? We mostly utilized the programs we were already using during lab interventions, but with a few minor adjustments. For example, my Team Leader, Kelsey Lineburg, asked her partner teacher for some LEAP review material, from which, she made her own quizzes on Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces (ALEKS) and Kahoot for her 6th grade students.

Kahoot is a fun alternative to your everyday pop quizzes. Sometimes students are so focused on beating their classmates’ scores that they forget they’re actually reviewing. This is the main reason Kelsey wasn’t the only Corps member to use this resource.

Norman, who’s currently serving in 8th grade math, used the program predominantly for his 8th graders. However, since he and I occasionally share a lab space, my 7th graders loved to test their knowledge of 8th level math.

I, personally, resorted to more extreme methods. I’d pull students from P.E. to work on the math skill of their choice. One particular student said he needed help with division. After reviewing the steps of division, I gave him problems to work on solo. Once I saw he felt confident with the skill, I gave him extra problems to solve. Only this time, I started the work for him. Some contained errors and some didn’t. Unbeknownst to him, he had to decide whether I had made a mistake or not. Once he finally determined I had made a mistake, I challenged his conclusion that I, his trusted City Year member, had made a mistake in the very subject in which I’d been placed to tutor. It may seem counterproductive, but I often hear, “I had that at first but I thought I was wrong, so I changed it.” Or, I’ll see the remains of the correct answer which they’d erased before giving me their paper. Truth is, some of these students actually know how to solve many of their math problems. They just lack the confidence to trust in their own abilities. They get problems incorrect because they second-guess themselves. My goal was to push my students to stand behind their work even when I, a trusted and educated adult, challenged their reasoning.

These are just a couple of ways my team and I chose to prep our students with math. The ELA Corps members predominantly used iXL for LEAP prep. Sixth grade ELA Corps member, Jimecia Williams provided practice essays and worksheets for her students. Some even had students pull from a cup of ELA LEAP questions to review during enrichment.

Students officially started testing Wednesday, April 25, 2018. We stopped the “drill and kill” method of prep that Monday. This is because the constant drilling could potentially do more harm than good. We, instead, used that time for motivation and relaxation techniques. These techniques ranged school-wide from yoga to motivational videos to breathing exercises.

On the Tuesday before the LEAP, we made and passed out LEAP grams. It was just our way of giving our students that extra bit of motivation before sending them home for a good night’s rest.

Only time will tell if any of our efforts paid off for any of our intellectuals at KST, but one thing is certain: we’re sending love to all of the young scholars during this testing session whether you are enrolled at KST or another learning institution. 


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