I am utterly exhausted right now.
In class, for over a week I have been making them practice writing, talk about writing, grade their writing, grade their neighbor's writing, take notes for writing, listen and write, read and write, watch me write, listen to me grade writing, and practice writing some more.
Today we finished up the last section of practice tests (well, for now. sorry, kiddies). We reviewed the rubric guidelines, they graded each other's work with a sort of rubric checklist (ie, since the top level requires organization, details, answering the question, etc, they check for each of these individual pieces, and then give a grade based on the rubric).
When the grading was done, they got their own work back. I told them to flip back to the first set (which was an official test awhile back) and compare grades with this set.
I asked to see hands for whose grades improved. Almost all the hands went up!
I asked who thinks they've learned a lot with all this practice. Hands up!
I asked who thinks they have improved at writing with all this practice. Hands up!
I asked who thinks they can even do better next time. Hands up!
I asked what they didn't do this time, what they learned that they can do next time. The students gave some thoughtful and honest responses: "I need to read the directions," "I need to use paragraphs," "I need to add details," "I need to stay in sequence," etc.
Man, was I proud! And I let them know.
So, I'm tired and extra irritable with their extra noise, and we're all anxiously counting down to the holiday, but I will definitely take today as a victory, because dammit, they appear to be learning!
....Of course, we'll see how it goes after they've been off school for more than a week. I hope we don't backslide completely!