End of Year Reflections

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 11.48.53 AMBest Memories

Many of the memories that stand out turned into blog posts.  One conversation with a very special girl.  Mentoring conversations with new teachersAnd a beautiful smile from a sweet child at exactly the right momentAnd major writing success!

Our class was filled with talented, intelligent, energetic students this year.  One student in particular, let’s call him Jake, was a very big joker and prided himself on being the class clown. So when he found out we would be giving out awards on the last day of school, he assumed he would be receiving the Class Clown award.  We couldn’t resist, we had to pull his leg…

“And the Class Comic award goes to….” (Student started to stand up, expecting it to be him.)  “Mrs. Stalter!” (My co-teacher began to bow and cheer.)

The student was shocked and appalled.  The class booed.  I let it go for a little bit and then….”Oh…wait….I made a mistake…It says Jake!”  The class cheered!  Jake came jogging up, arms raised, smile big.  We got him!

Missed Opportunities

Science…I spent a lot of time working on creating Science units based on NGSS, but then I didn’t get to finish.  I saved the Forces/Motion for the end, because it had the most opportunities for students creating experiments.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get to finish it.  😦

Game Changers

Standards Based Grading.

Focus

A lot of my energy was directed at classroom management and teaching social skills.  Although teaching the whole child is always part of my day, a lot of our Social Studies time was spent teaching about bullying and empathy.    It was necessary.  Although the group has a long way to go, I think they are on the path to becoming kind, empathetic children.

20150210_070958Forgot

At the beginning of the year, students created hopes and dreams for the year.  By mid-year, most had accomplished their original hopes and dreams.  I had planned on students reflecting and revising, but it never happened…

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Reflections

Next year I will have more patience.  Focus more on using positive language.  Continue to work on my math instruction.

This year was my most challenging and difficult year both professionally and personally.  I was at my breaking point more times than I can count.  Now that the year is over, I can say I made it and am stronger because of it.  Now it is time to recharge, relax, read, spend time with my son, and take time for me.   Summer…I’m here!

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On Your Mark (Post 3/3)

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This book isn’t just a list of things that don’t work. It is this doesn’t work….But you could do this…or this…

20150528_211640Yep…I did this. But now I totally see how zeros don’t make any sense if we want grades to show what students know.

Unrelated note:  I had no idea about the Olympics scoring!

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We teach student writers that introductions and conclusions are important and potentially very powerful. Well, this book has a beginning and ending that is mentor text worthy, in my opinion.  Guskey ends with a pep talk.  He tells us that our current grading practices are traditions, but traditions aren’t always best.  That it takes bold and brave leaders to make changes, including educational changes.  As I close the book, I am left encouraged and inspired.  Encouraged…although I have made mistakes in my grading and reporting in the past, I can see what needs to change and how simple the changes can be. Inspired…I want to be part of the change and I want what is best for my students.

Encouraged and inspired.  What more can you ask for in an educational read?

On Your Mark (Post 2/3)

51OZzdoRMlL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_      I started my reflections on this book here and I will continue below…sharing my notes and my thoughts.  To be honest, after the first three chapters, my thoughts are just extensions of earlier thoughts.  The first few chapters of this book required me to change the way I was thinking about grading and reporting.  However, once my thinking shifted, everything else was kind of like…DUH!  Of course this makes sense.

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     Reporting student growth on standards has been happening in the primary grades in my district forever.  Third through fifth grade reports standards and a letter grade for each subject.   There isn’t a huge change required for us to make the move to standards based grading and reporting, because that is what we have been doing.   However grades K-5 are only a few of

     One of the points made in the book is that parents like the more detailed profile that standards based reporting will bring, however I still worry.  Letter grades are what we know.  Kids get a free movie for each A they receive (if you have a rare movie rental store near).  Parents grew up with letter grades.   I feel like one of the unmentioned, but very important needs that will come with this shift is the education of parents.  Without a doubt, parents will receive more detailed information about what their child can do and needs to be able to do.  However, the need for educating parents can not be overlooked or under-emphasized.

Education is a shared commitment between dedicated teachers, motivated students and enthusiastic parents with high expectations.
–  Bob Beauprez

On Your Mark (Post 1)

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After reading On Your Mark, there is so much information and so many thoughts running through my head.  I have decided to share some of my notes on the first two chapters.  Then, I will share one way I have adjusted my grading/reporting practice based on my reading.

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We are giving our students more chances to fail than succeed. The first time I saw this visual, a giant light bulb appeared! I had never looked at percentage grades like this before and I was sold on standards based grading.
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This makes so much sense!

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Application:Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 8.05.07 PM

In a week long fables unit, our third grade readers were learning three things:  identify characteristics of fables, sequence events in a story, and infer the moral of a fable.

We created a summative assessment.  In the past, each question would have a correct answer, a percentage would be found, and then that percentage would be recorded in the grade book.  The end.

However, we graded each of the three sections separately.  Parents were then given a letter informing them if their child was able to do each independently, with prompting, or not yet.

Because we still need to report letter grades, we had to convert each section into a percentage to enter into the grade book.  However, each was a separate score and can/will be updated as reteaching and continued learning occurs.

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This makes so much more sense to me.  A student can master sequencing events independently, while only being able to infer a moral with teacher support.  Why would we ever lump all of this together, assign a percentage correct, plug it into the grade book, and move on?  Because that is the way it has always been done?  Well, it doesn’t work for me anymore.  I want more for my students.

What I’m Loving Wednesday 1.21.15

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♥  My co-workers!

Last night, in an effort to be healthy, we went to my co-teacher’s house to workout.  After an intense twenty minute workout, and a visit with her new doggie, we went out to eat.  Yes, it was counterproductive.   No, it was not the first time this has happened.  However, I love that I get to work with my friends AND we can be counterproductive together!

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♥  Biggest Loser

I do enjoy the show, but I am talking about our school’s version.  This is week two and I am down eleven pounds thanks to the competition and the support from the other teachers.  I am sitting at a table with a bowl of candy and have not eaten any.  Which brings me to my next topic…

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♥  Having short arms!

I am sitting at a table with a bowl of candy in the center and I am not eating it!  In large part because I can’t reach it!

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♥  One Little Word:  Fierce

 ♥  Standards Based Grading

This is a scary and an exciting change coming in education.  I am learning more about standards based grading today and hope to share my learning in a future post.

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♥  Putting my son on the bus!

Thanks to a professional development down the street from my house, I got to sleep in and put my son on the bus!  We got to watch an episode of Scooby-Doo this morning and then slide across the slippery snow while waiting for the bus.  I am that mom…the one sliding with her kid across the sidewalk while another mom is reprimanding her kid for doing the same thing.  ( I consider that being a fun mom, but I’m sure that other mom doesn’t appreciate it.  :/ )