I do math SAT prep. The summer course I teach is pretty condensed; we only meet 7 times. But I also teach it at school; all our Juniors take it. We meet on period per 6 day cycle.
Each class starts with a sheet of notes up on the screen. I do a "tactic" on beating the test, then a series of notes on a particular topic that appears fairly regularly. Then I give the kids half the remaining time to do preblems. Finally, we go over those problems, with an emphasis on the tricks over correct mathematical procedure.
I'm embarassed to admit I dont know a whole lot about the ACT.
As far as resources go, I pretty much just use the Barron's SAT prep book. But I've been teaching SAT prep for a LONG time, so the notes are my own.
For starters, why not hit the Barrons and Kaplan test prep sites for info on the exam: format, "guessing penalty" info, exactly what's included. It's probably well worth your money to invest in a prep book. What text, if any, will the kids be using? Ours use the Barrons' "How to prepare for the SAT" book. Also, see if Princeton Review has a book out. They're famous for "how to beat the test" kind of info.
How much free reign do you have? To be honest, I have a LOT.
My administration knows how long I've been doing this, as does my department chair. (I was dept. chair when he was hired, before my kids came long and I took a few years off.) See what's already in place, and how much tweaking you'll have to do.
I teach all my Algebra II's ACT prep whether they like it or not. I also co-taught the ACT prep class last year.
I have a several pointers and ideas for you....
1 - Set the class up from day one as a test prep class. Your ONLY objective is a test score. This isn't a class that preps for the next level and has an end of course. The test is the ONLY thing. Get that mindset out quickly.
2 - Get your students focused on going for points. They have to get it drilled into their heads to go for points and to not get bogged down on a problem or to get sloppy for speed. This is a timed test and that requires a different mindset than an untimed test.
3 - Spend the first few days running a timed ACT practice test as a pre-assessment. The ACT is a 4 hour test so it's going to take a few periods to establish where everyone stands. Share that data with your students
4 - Do another at mid-term to re-evaluate and to show the kids how they have progressed. Share that Data with your students.
5 - Do you have a clicker system in your room? If not, can you get one?????
Clickers are a MUST. Run 15 to 20 minutes of clickers at the end of each class on a daily basis. Find the high frequency problems that always show up and drill to kill.
Emphasize with the students that these questions WILL be on the test. If you get good on these and get fast with these, it's easy points with no lost time.
Drill the living crap out of them with it.
6 - Post the clicker scores weekly and make a big deal out of it. Let them know how they are doing on these high frequency problems. Get serious about "you CAN'T miss these points".
7 - Make them memorize basic math formulas and trig stuff like SOHCAHTOA. Drill this hard as they don't get a formula sheet on the ACT.
8 - MOST importantly.......Teach them speed reading techniques and drill them into the ground on speed reading. There is so much of the ACT that requires you to read 3 paragraphs about how Jack n Jill walked up the hill to answer a question about how many men walked up the hill or what was the acceleration of gravity when Jack broke his crown. Speed readers smoke the ACT.
9 - Don't trust the ACT study guides. They keep upping the difficulty of the test and the study guides typically underestimate the number of higher level questions on the test.
10 - Teach them calculator tricks, but look for the ACT to try to counter them. They say you can do the Math part of the ACT without a calculator, but the truth is that you can't in the time given. They need to be good with a graphing calculator, but they also need to be smart because the ACT sets em up for calculator mistakes.
I have all the reigns. From the text down I choose. It's a bit overwhelming. I kind of wish there were some set expectations (besides the kids do well on the ACT, that is). I'll check out those books. Thanks again.
Thanks Muttling! Those are some great tips. I'm actually doing the English and Reading portions but most of the tips can be applied to any subject.
What's a clicker??? Obviously I don't have one but I might be able to get one- if I knew what it was. My school's tiny and poor so we are always getting grants. As a matter or fact, I'm getting a smart board this year.
Oh, and Alice, we are so small I don't even have a department head. Last year the guidance counselor told me I was the English department. That's not exactly true, there is one other, but you get the idea.
A clicker system in a system with hand held remotes for each student. You put a multiple choice up on your projector, the students click in their answers. When you end the question you get instant feedback, they get instant feedback, and the scores are recorded by the computer.
The most basic one is the eInstruction Classroom Performance System.
Completely off topic, but I just thought I'd mention because I've seen it a few times in this thread... When someone gives you room to do what you want, they are giving you free rein. The things that connect a horse's bit to the rider's hands are reins, and the metaphor is linked to the idea that when a rider lets the reins loose the horse can do what he wants.
"Reign" is what a queen does -- she reigns over her land (among other definitions and parts of speech most of which have to do with monarchs and monarchies). It's a very common mistake!
Now, back to your regularly scheduled program (a discussion which I find very interesting!).