Creative Reading Review

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This review project is a favorite in my class!  I was looking for a way to assess my students’ fictional comprehension of ALL of the skills I teach in our fiction unit. The problem with assessments, though, is that they aren’t always fair to all students. You reading teachers know what I mean! We differentiate our instruction to make learning fair for all of our readers, so assessments should also be fair! With this project, I can assign leveled text, individually or by group, allowing me to actually assess their comprehension skills without questioning if the real problem was that they couldn’t read the passage. As the teacher, you can even choose whether you assign the pages with graphic organizers or blank pages for students who need more of a challenge.

While working on this project, my students are given free rein, meaning they are completely in control of how they show their understanding. Text dependence is easy too. With digital text, students can take a snapshot or copy/paste exactly what they need to prove their thinking. Altogether, I’m assessing their understanding, giving my students opportunities to use creativity, critical thinking skills, and their communication skills. If not being used for assessment purposes, it also makes for a great collaboration project for group assignments.

If you want to check this out for your own students click the link below.

Fiction Book Analysis Project

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I LOVE MY SCHOOL!

Everyone needs to feel appreciated.  It’s part of what drives us to continue on our path to greatness.

It was Staff Appreciation Week at my school this week and WOW, my school goes all out!  My CO, School Board, PTA, and administrators put real thought into what will make a difference, and they nailed it.  Lunch/dessert was supplied each day of the week.  We ate cheesecake, frozen yogurt, Subway, Chick-Fil-A, pizza and salad, and my favorite – a baked potato bar.  I don’t know about you, but I LOVE food, and I didn’t have to pack a lunch every day – AWESOME BONUS!  On top of that, we were gifted with a sweatshirt with our school’s name and mascot (I know what I’m wearing on Fridays) and a schnazzy water bottle with our school’s name on it.  Plus, the cherry on top, every day was a jeans day.  COMFORT … FOOD … GREAT GIFTS … OH MY!

It’s so great to work for such an awesome school division.  Yes, they show genuine care during Staff Appreciation Week, but they also show genuine care throughout the rest of the school year.  They are involved, supportive, and encouraging every step of the way.  My county does it right.  It feels good to be appreciated.   I love my school!

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The Journey Begins

Black and White Classroom Quote Social Media GraphicThanks for joining me!  It’s spring break at my school and with the little bit of “free time” from working, I’ve finally found the courage to do something I’ve wanted to do for a LONG time … MY FIRST POST!

In my school we are in crunch time for state testing.  I’ve been in a “testing” grade for three years now, and wow, the amount of stress on the teachers and students is CRAZY.  I’ve been teaching for over 12 years now.  I spent 9 years in a second grade classroom and the difference in how you get to spend the end of the year with your students is SO UNFAIR.  So … what does a teacher do?  I make every possible effort to keep my students as stress-free as possible.  I encourage, praise, practice (practice, practice, practice … I’ll come back to that), and tell my students the truth about what to expect and what they need to do to meet their goals (individually, one student at a time, of course).  Most of all, I tell my students that we are in this together and that I believe in them, DAILY.

Let me back up a little.  It’s my philosophy that every lesson, assignment, and task should be meaningful.  Every decision I make as a teacher counts and must help my students meet their yearly goals, and some of my own a long the way.  There’s a lot to keep in mind.  For example, does the lesson/task require higher level thinking, how can it be differentiated to meet all students’ needs, is it doable within the time-limits as set by the daily schedule and pacing guide, what’s the next step and how does it fit into the process towards mastery, is it engaging (allow for choice, creativity, etc.)?  These questions, and more, drive the decisions I make from day one to the end of the year.  This includes test prep, which we’ve been working on, in some way or another, for the entire year if I’m honest.  It’s my belief that students must feel safe and cared for when they are in the classroom in order to be successful academically.  For that reason, I work hard, daily, to promote respect and kindness.  One of my own goals each year is to create a classroom family, in which students can speak honestly with me and their peers, and everyone feels safe to be themselves.  We spend time every morning getting to know each other with a Morning Meeting.  My school started Responsive Classroom training last year and I use the ideas to help encourage my students to accept and appreciate their own unique qualities and each other’s.  I take the time to show my students that I love and respect them (no matter what).  I do these things in front of the other students, and in effect, my students learn to love and care for each other like family and feel safe to be themselves, mistakes and all.  Success starts here.

Back to spring break.  We all needed it.  We’ve been working really hard, and even though it’s early April in VA (and the weather can’t decide if it should be slightly warm or freezing), we all needed time to rest and play in the sun (or clouds/rain depending on the day) and NOT think about testing.  On Monday, we’ll meet back refreshed, optimistic, and ready to continue challenging ourselves to meet and exceed our goals and expectations.

I’ll share more about test prep in my classroom when I get back to school:)  For now, it’s time to watch a movie and snuggle with my kiddos.

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton