I really hate it when I have an idea for a post and then time gets away from me. Eventually I find the time (or I remember the post that I had forgotten to write!) and it happens. Eventually. Today is one of those posts.
We actually met S.H.A.D.O. weeks ago. She is now our good friend. And boy is she helpful!
Who’s S.H.A.D.O., you ask? And why is her name spelled like that? Let me tell you all about it.
This is S.H.A.D.O.:
And she is one smart cookie. No wait–she’s an owl. Ok, so she is one wise owl.
Her name stands for:
And while I would love to take credit for creating her, I can’t. I found her when I was on www.prometheanplanet.com, which is a support site for the interactive whiteboard we use at school. The flipchart she came from (and that we now reference frequently in our classroom!) was submitted by Melissa McGahan. So, like many great ideas that I use in my classroom, I did not think it up, I just figured out the right time and place to use it!
Ok, back to S.H.A.D.O. She has been helping us during the recent weeks as we prepare for MAP testing (which I talked about related to science the other day here ). She helps us remember that there are some basic strategies that good test-takers use when they tackle a test (whether it’s a state test or just a plain ‘ol end-of-unit test) to help make sense of it. There are different parts of her body that remind us of these strategies.
Here’s what they are:
I have been amazed at how this representation–in picture form–has been so helpful to so many of my students. While I have always taught these strategies, I’ve always done it with words, not images. We have always created a list of “smart” things to do, then had that list displayed in a variety of places around our classroom. Just like in the past, S.H.A.D.O. is now displayed all around our room, as a reminder when you look at her to do what she suggests. (As a side note, I love how the other day someone wrote a blog post about how they love S.H.A.D.O., but she’s a little creepy because she’s always watching us with those big eyes of hers! HA! The minds of 5th graders kill me sometimes!). It’s simple, really, and I don’t know why I didn’t think of using a picture before–I’m a very visual learner myself, so it’s something that would have helped me, too!
So since we’ve become introduced to S.H.A.D.O., we’ve tried out her strategies on various assessments we’ve done in our classroom. Is she helpful to everyone? No. Does everyone need her reminders? No. Do we always go through all of the steps she suggests? No. Just like every strategy I share with my students, they have learned which steps at what time with which assignment she is helpful. That’s the key actually–know how to use the tools at your disposal. So she’s there in our toolboxes if and when we need her.
And as a side note, I believe that S.H.A.D.O. was originally created to help with reading/communication arts tests, but we’ve found that you can apply most of her strategies to other subjects as well. The other day we tried them with a math test and they were perfect. Nice how that works out.
If you are a teacher, and you got through this post and you’re still thinking “Great idea, but I already do other things to prepare my kids,” I ask that you focus in on a part of S.H.A.D.O.’s suggestions that maybe you don’t specifically do. For me, it was the steps related to bracketing and numbering the paragraphs, then marking the main idea next to each one. Using that step has forced (in a good way!) my students to slow down and really think through each and every part of the texts they read on tests (both fiction and nonfiction–and heck, we even used it on poetry today!). I think that if there is a magic bullet here, it’s that one. Having the paragraphs marked like that has made it so much easier to go back to the text to find support for answers. They now know so much more quickly exactly which paragraph to go to find the information they need. Genius. 🙂
I’m adding a screen shot of what that step looks like next, because for me the words I just wrote wouldn’t make much sense (See? Me=very visual):
So, I invite you to introduce S.H.A.D.O. to your class. Come on, she has great ideas. And hey, S.H.A.D.O. knows. (Ah, you didn’t think I could get to the end of this post without a joke like that, did ya?)
One more thing…if you’re a parent, I am interested in knowing what your kids are saying about S.H.A.D.O. Maybe you were already introduced to her, or maybe you have another story about how she’s helped your student in class. Share with us!