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Steve Haberlin's picture
Steve Haberlin is an assistant professor of education at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, and author of Meditation in the College Classroom: A Pedagogical Tool to Help Students De-Stress, Focus,...
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Time is a precious commodity in the classroom. There never seems to be enough of it.

Therefore~ we should not only be careful how we use our time as teachers~ but also how we utilize time when it comes to students.

Research shows that many higher-level students~ such as those in gifted programs~ spend about 70-80 percent of classroom relearning material. Whoa-thats a lot of time spent on covering lessons they have already learned.

There has to be a better wayand there is.

Its pre-testing.

That means administering tests to students before you begin teaching a chapter or lesson to determine mastery of those skills. And once you know certain students already know that material~ you can challenge them by providing enriching activities or accelerating the pace of instruction.

This strategy also saves time in another way. Even if a student does not show mastery on a pre-test~ the test provides you with knowledge of what particular skills they have mastered so you can condense your teaching and better focus instruction so it meets the needs of that student or the class. It simply makes no sense to teach lessons that students have already learned~ especially with the pressure to cover so much curriculum in a short period of time.

You can save even more time by using online resources provided by textbook companies. Many offer an online component that allows students to take tests online~ which are then graded by the program and summarized into reports that show what questions students got wrong.

Classroom teachers can then take that data and design their lesson plans to strengthen weak areas or enrich strong ones.

Enrichment specialists and teachers of gifted and talent students can use the information to document mastery of content and free up time for students to work on independent research projects~ extension activities~ simulations and other enrichment.

Currently~ I pre-test students on the gifted team in math (the subject area generally taught when I am in the room)and provide the classroom teacher with a score. If a student demonstrates mastery (you must determine your own cutoff score. I use 85 percent or higher)~ then you can advocate for that student to spend their time in other ways rather than sit through lessons they already know. Its important to use data when fighting for gifted students to spend more time in enrichment since classroom teachers want assurance that students will perform well come test- time. In the event a student does not show mastery~ the classroom teacher and teacher of gifted can develop a plan to bring them up to the level they need to be.

Pre-testing is a way of working smarter~ not harder. Its a win-win strategy for the classroom teacher and the enrichment specialist. It demonstrates that the teacher values not only their own time~ but that of his or her students.

Please share your thoughts on the subject by visiting the Gifted/Enrichment Group at http://community.educationworld.comcontent/pre-testing-0?gid=NTEyMQ==