In light of Illinois state testing this week, I decided to use this blog post to reflect on our ACT test prep course. Four years ago, my coworker Ami Heng and I took over the math portion of the ACT prep course at our school. We wanted to develop a course that was more individualized and technology-based for our students. Our modes of providing resources to students have changed over time, as we originally had students using a Google Site on desktop computers and now students have a Schoology course on their own iPad, however, the process is very similar.
Before I dive into our course, I would like to provide you with a little background information. The ACT math test is based on eight pillars of topics in mathematics:
Our course is split into four days of math. We paired the skills based on topic and number of standards under each category:
The BOA standards were covered in daily exit slips because students constantly struggle with word problems and the ACT is inconsistent with the types of questions asked in this category.
Each day, students would take a pre-assessment on a specific CRS band of skills, one question per standard. Following the warm-up quiz, students would identify all of the topics that they got wrong. This is where the individualization came into play; students would begin working on their own skills of weakness instead of going over topics that only some of the class needed help with.
For each incorrect standard, there was a folder on Schoology. In each folder, students would have four to five items, depending upon if there was a graphing calculator component to the standard. Here is the folder for GRE 504: Midpoint of a Line Segment:
This process would be repeated for all questions that they had answered incorrectly. As mentioned before, the benefit to this model was that students were each addressing their individual weaknesses. I observed increased engagement in students because the material was meaningful to them and their time was preserved. With approximately every three new skills that a student masters, their ACT math score will go up a point. With their weaknesses addressed in this course, students are provided with a targeted approach to success.
Another benefit is that the use of technology allows for students to continue to work on these topics outside of our meeting time. I see Schoology notifications at all hours that tell me that students are working on this course. Students can e-mail me outside of class if they are struggling with some of the practice problems. Overall, I feel that students have been able to improve their scores with this individualized method of ACT prep.