So, in order to give my students some FCAT prep that was different than simply taking a mock FCAT, I decided to let them listen to a story called "Barnaby in Exile," by Mike Reznick. It's the emotional story of a young ape of exceptional intelligence who is forced out into the wild, the place he doesn't want to be. It's told from his own point of view. The story had everything I thought I needed to review. It was perfect for understanding narrator's perspective, author's purpose, and even text structure, although the entire delivery was via audio. I made twenty questions of varying levels of cognitive complexity that covered the main elements of the FCAT. Not only did I display the questions on the screen at the front of the room, but I also provided hard copies to individual students who wanted one.
It could have been worse, so I won't do anything but offer gratitude. Students found the story EXTREMELY boring in most mods. Only the exceptionally high-level students (classified as gifted) found it really enjoyable. I was honestly very surprised by this. None of the classes reached the solitary bad word in the story, which I was well-prepared to skip long before it even came up. Only a few students finished more than 2/3 of the questions.
So, I developed an FCAT prep lesson that consisted of more than taking a practice test, and almost no one was able to really get into it. In retrospect, I suppose I should have included a hard copy of the story...duh! I should also have prepared a little bit of background knowledge about lab animals. I realize that a different story, one with more action and shock with fewer emotions, would have perhaps been a better choice. Ideally, some visuals could have been added to make it even more engaging. What seemed like an excellent idea became a lesson bound to crash and burn! L Well, first year is full of mistakes. I plan to learn from every single one of them.