Monday, September 7, 2015

September 7th

Tomorrow is the first day of our 1015-16 school year.  We had the opportunity, last week, to meet with many of our students.  I must say, that I am just as eager and nervous as they are.

Last week during our district PD days, we spent a little time discuss our new feedback document and how best to show student learning, especially in math.  The district has provided Essential Understandings and under those are the "Learnings".  My team and I had already taken the first math pre-assessment, broke it down based on the district "I can" statements and placing those under the Essential Understandings.  At that time, we did not have access to the "Learnings".  Now we do, so once again, we had to do some tweaking.

This is where I feel tremendous stress and pressure.  These assessments were not prepared for us to begin our year. Once again, we jump in feet first, without any preparation. This type of work takes enormous amounts of time and thought.  I know we will continue to train this year but still...

So as I am about to embark on another amazing year, I try to remain open and willing to make the changes best needed for education and my students.  I hope to find my balance soon...

Monday, August 3, 2015

Continued.... tool idea!  I was searching when I can across this app.  It is a way for teachers to keep track and share student growth during the school year.  It uses technology, which is to help busy teachers.  I have asked my team to check it out.  This idea is to be continued...

August 3rd "Still on summer break"- Feedback documents & Standards based grading

      This school year our district has adopted the use of a feedback document.  This is in place of our elementary report cards.  A few years back, my particular school created and piloted a standard based report card, but at the time I was teaching kindergarten, which left me unsure how it was received by our families. What I do know, is that our superintendent's vision is about making student thinking visible and that students can show this in many ways.  I think this document will lead us further this way.  

       We will start our year off with some training on how to use this 'feedback' document.  I am hoping we will also have more sample assessment tools that we may use this year.  My biggest concern is that we begin this journey without having any forms of this in our hands.  This leaves me feeling full of anxiety.

       We do a have a few subject areas in which we have tools that will help with determining student growth:
WRITING:  We use Lucy Caulkins, Pathways  This provides a writing rubric, several student samples and wonderful student check lists.  We confer with students and use exit passes, to get an immediate gauge on student progress. 

READING:  A tool we use for reading is the Running Records.  This assessment let's students know their reading level and allows us to give them immediate feedback on strategies that can be used to further their reading.  We also, gather student jots and conference notes to build an idea of each student as a reader.  

      I feel strongly that these tools will fit positively with the new district document.

       In my last few weeks of summer break, I will read more about standards based grading, searching for ideas of how best to keep track of student growth and hopefully find ways that our reasonable for teachers to use with 25-30 students.  Stay posted or share your experiences with this topic.