Friday, February 20, 2015

Finding the Good in Assessment

With the temperature at -26 degrees (and a windchill even lower) my district had "cold" weather days for the past two days.  Our instructional support team (which I am now part of as an instructional coach) braved the cold to attend the annual Michigan Assessment Conference.  The conference covered the changing face of state assessments, common assessments, formative assessments and growth models.

A new teacher in one of the sessions I attended told me that she was shocked to learn that assessment can be useful to teachers.  I was shocked by that statement, at first.  Then came the realization that in general the majority of our new teachers are coming out of teacher prep programs with a negative feeling about assessment.

Since I doubt our state governments or the federal government are going to ease up on testing anytime soon, I choose to accept whatever useful information the results give me to improve instruction and ignore the negativity.

It would be sad to me if the negative press around testing prevented our teachers from opening their minds to using formative assessments in their classrooms.  The information we gather about student learning from formative assessments can and should be used to guide our instruction.  As teachers we need to do everything we can to work smarter. Working smarter maximizes student progress and that progress is faster when we've developed clear learning targets based on assessment.

 As a teacher, I often thought about why the nuns always gave me a pre-test and a post-test in elementary school.  Turns out that even "back in the day" they were working toward specific learning targets.   I sure wish they would have told me what the learning targets were...but that is another post.

By comparing formative assessment results and summative assessment results, we can identify student learning trends and adjust our instruction in ways that address the real student learning problems.

There are two purposes of assessment: enhancing student learning (ex. formative assessments) and verifying achievement (summative assessments).  In my mind, this kind of eases some of the negativity.  The tests that are being required by so many states are simply a snapshot in time that help us identify student learning trends.  Based on those trends, we can do additional assessments to help us identify the student learning problems and adjust our instruction accordingly.

from Improve Assessment Literacy Outside of Schools Too  by Rick Stiggins

If you look hard enough, you can find the good in anything.  Assessment can be powerful and so can the way we use it to improve our instruction and student learning.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Why Do You Love Teaching?

Our state department of education is encouraging teachers to share what we love about teaching this week.  Please consider sharing what you love about teaching too!  If you have a blog you can post about it there, share it on Instagram, tweet it or post about it on Facebook.

The number one reason I love teaching is!
When your day is filled with this kind of enthusiasm, it is hard not to love your job.
It is easy to feel lucky.
It is easy to feel loved.
It is easy to feel like you have a chance to make a difference.

Education is a gift.
We give and receive the gift of learning each day as teachers.

Since I started a new job as an instructional coach this year, 
I am able to collaborate with  teachers about instruction and student learning every single day.

working together = more brain power = increased learning for adults and kids

Not gonna lie. I also love organizing things, which is a constant process for this teacher.

As a teacher, my world is full of words.  Some people love numbers. I love words.

As a teacher, I can share my love of schedules with students (and now teachers).

 "Is that lady reading a book in her kayak in the middle of the lake?"
It's easy for my family to explain - "She's a teacher. She has a book with her everywhere she goes."

Another reason to love being a teacher...
you get to purchase a back to school outfit and an open house outfit.
(My personal stylist from Stitch Fix chose these for me.)

When you are a teacher, your days and your life (and your goal spreadsheet) are filled with...

This year, I am part of the Instructional Support Team in my Dexter.  
I love my new team!
I am learning so much from each of the talented members of our team.  
One is a data expert, one is a technology expert and one is the dynamic leader of our team.
I love teaching because now I have this opportunity to learn from my team.
Together we are excited, challenged in a positive way
 and on a mission to be as supportive as possible.

There is so much for teachers to celebrate at the end of each year!

And...still we feel like this when someone says that summer is almost over.

Then...the backpacks fill up. 
Buses arrive.
The bell rings.
We welcome back the little ones 
who count on us to LOVE teaching 
and LOVE each of them 
as we learn together.


Sunday, February 8, 2015

March is Reading Month Themes

February is the time to do 2 important things.

Eat chocolate and prepare for March is Reading Month, right?

Two of my favorite themes to do with my students for March is Reading month were the Information Highway, which my whole school did last year. I made this Information Highway unit to guide my students through a month of focusing on informational text.

Here are a few pictures from our month long journey on the Information Highway.

My all time favorite March is reading month theme is Camp Read a Lot!
It was a student (and parent) favorite as well.  I liked it so much that last year I did the Information Highway theme for the whole month and we still visited Camp Read a Lot for a week.  Over the last couple years, many teachers have sent me pictures of my Camp Read a Lot unit being used as an end of the year unit as well.

Back to the grad school assignment that I've been avoiding while I watch Downton Abbey.

Have a great week!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Currently February

Linking up with Farley from Oh Boy Fourth Grade again this month for her monthly Currently party.

I love snow, so I'm not worried about the forecast of 10 - 14 inches today.  But...I like to stay home when it snows that much.  So, I'm not excited about driving to campus for my graduate class this afternoon.

I'm about to finish up a round of Whole 30, so I will not eat a whole tube of chocolate chip cookie dough...but it sure sounds yummy.  You can read about my Whole30 experience here.

As for my pageant title, I'm not really a pageant kind of girl (heels = disaster and grumpy girl).  But, if they had a pageant for progress I would be the queen, the princess and the biggest promoter.  I like to set goals and make progress.  I like to aim for progress and share it.  I like to measure progress and encourage everyone around to make their own. 
Progress = change = move forward = happy girl

Please stop by to visit Farley to read the other posts this month.
Thank you, Farley, for hosting and keeping us laughing each month!