Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Just popping in!

Just stopping to say hi!  I've been busy, busy this week but feel like I haven't really done anything!  I've had lots to catch up on for The Teaching Oasis, picking up my house, and I've been reading like crazy!  Also... did you notice the little apple favicon at the top of my blog?  I love it!

As for my school life, there are two days of summer school left!  Though I thoroughly enjoy being able to work intensively with a small group of students (and an aide!) on reading and math skills... I am ready for a break.  I can't wait to sleep until 9:00am on Friday!

Check back soon for a few more data-related resources!  I'm working on a "Glow and Grow" sheet that you can attach to a piece of student work to provide them with a compliment and an area to work on!

Anyhow, if you stop by, please leave a comment... especially if you find a document you can use.  I have found so many great blogs from spying on the people who comment and are now following me.  I love taking a peek into your classrooms!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

More tidbits on grading

Ok.  One more jewel I wanted to share from my conference.  I had a few teachers e-mail me to ask if there was a resource book I could tell them about after the conference.  Sadly, no.  But, the presenter was Nicole Vagle and you might be able to locate a book from that link.  The conference was excellent.  It was the last two days of a 10 day series that I attended throughout the school year.

The thing I like so much about these two sessions is that they were full of things that I could implement right away... and the "things" were so common sense... and they are changes that I can make a the teacher level, rather than trying to turn other teachers into believers.

So... the thing I got on to post about right now was a bit of research she shared with us.  I'm not sure who the researchers are or when it was completed, but the two days were all about assessment, so the research took three groups of students and had the teachers grade their work.  One teacher gave only grades with no comments.  The second teacher gave comments only- no grades.  And the third teacher gave a letter grade and wrote comments.

First she asked us to predict the gain that each group of students had on the next assessment after seeing their grade/comments.  My table felt that comments AND grades would have had the biggest gains.  Go ahead.  Right now, make your prediction.  I'll wait!  :)

Did you make your guess?

We were not surprised to learn that the researchers found that students who had grades only had no gain on the next assessment.  We were extremely surprised to learn that the students who got grades AND comments also had no gain on the next assessment!  The students who made the most gains were those who had comments only- specific feedback to help them understand what went wrong and help guide them to higher achievement in the future.  To be precise, the research that she cited said that this group had a 30% increase in achievement on the following assessment!  Thirty percent?!  That definitely screams to me that this is something I must try for myself!

She also suggested giving feedback on an assessment, but holding off on the grade until a student has been given an opportunity to see the feedback and act on it.  I can see that being very powerful in writing- to require revision and resubmission instead of just having things "turned in", which I am guilty of doing.

I am bummed that I have two months to sit on this knowledge and not teach my class with it... but my kiddos better look out come September!  I can't wait to put my new information into practice!

Graphing Math Facts

Do you like how I did that... put the file at the top instead of making you read through my ramblings to find it? :) You can download the graph for free... and it's even fillable so you can put in your own increments! Please click the document or this link to go to The Teaching Oasis site and download this goodie for freeeeeeeee!

So, I've always done some sort of math fact drill... but not as consistently as I should have. My school uses Everyday Math, which is a program that I do love, but we all know that it lacks in basic fact practice. My kids play the games and have really good strategies for figuring out their facts... but to just instantly know them, well... that's a goal of mine every summer and I always end up just doing the same thing I did (or didn't!) do the year before.

BUT... at the conference I was at last week, I met a teacher from another district who was correcting math fact drill pages and it intrigued me... so I mustered up my courage to start a conversation with her about how she organizes math fact drill and she shared a website with me where you can generate your own math fact practice sheets. Here's the link! I did my own hunting and found this site too... which I like the look of the printables better.

Anyway, after talking with her, I have a new resolve to be consistent in how I do math fact drill. So, the new plan for next year is to develop a set of these sheets that increase in sum starting with a sheet that has sums from 0-8, then going up to sums of 10, and gradually ending around sums of 15. I'm going to do sheets with 40 problems and give my kids 2 minutes. That's three seconds a problem. I plan to do it Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. They will each have a data folder and inside the folder, will be the file above and I'll go through prior to each test and slip in the page they need next. In order to move on to the next level (or sum set), they will have to get 3 in a row 100% correct for whatever sum they are on.

So, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for the drill and Tuesday and Thursday will be some other sort of memory work like me flashing up a shape for 2 seconds and then asking questions about the shape... or flashing up a group of objects and asking them to tell me how many were in the group.

I hope that makes sense. I think this document will be perfect alongside the learning targets tracker I posted last time!

When I got my Master's degree, I did a project where students set goals for and graphed their own oral reading fluency progress and it was very powerful to put that responsibility into their hands. I'm hopeful that having them be involved in their math facts will prove to be equally exciting and fruitful!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Learning Targets

So, day two of "Quality Assessment" training concluded today and was full of more great information and resources.

I'm going to keep this blog post brief so you can get right to the resource and have time to enjoy your weekend, rather than spend the whole thing trying to read through my long winded post! :)

I love the idea of students knowing the learning target... and not just knowing it or having it posted on their assessment (which I also LOVE!) but being accountable and responsible to keep track of how they are meeting it and reflect on their own level of mastery.

So, I adapted the following document from one I was given today that was originally made by Lighthouse Learning Community, Inc. Mine is a little more basic but I made it fillable so that you can put in your own subject and type in your own kid-friendly "I can" statements related to the learning target. The other columns for evidence, however, are not fillable because that is where the students will document tasks they have done that relate to the learning target.

Now, I'm not so crazy to think that my kids will do this on their own. So even though I will be telling them what tasks to write where for their evidence, I think that it will be powerful for them to do the documentation. I also figure that I will have them rate their level of understanding/mastery after the addition of each task with a pencil... that way as they complete more tasks, they can change their level of mastery if they need to.

I don't have the logistics of this worked out yet, but I'm envisioning some sort of "data folder" for each kid where they will have several of these sheets, graphs for graphing math fact mastery, etc... and I will pre-make these before school begins with the most essential of essential learning targets in each one. I hope that makes sense!

Look for more posts in the future about learning targets... I'm all jazzed about this now and feel like a bad teacher for not having realized the importance of this before! The presenter said something that I'll leave you with that helps me keep things like this in perspective... she said, "What we know today does not make what we did yesterday wrong". How powerful is that?!

So, I guess this post didn't turn out to be that short after all... once I simmer down about this blogging thing, hopefully I'll learn to be more concise! :)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Two Stars and a Wish

Feel free to skip this long-winded explanation of why I'm attaching the file at the bottom... but if you want to peek in my brain for a second... read away!

I attended day one of a two day conference today on effective grading practices. It was very interesting and had several things that were "Aha!s" for me. One of them, which seems so obvious, is printing learning targets on assessments- both summative and formative assessments. I'm the first to admit that most of my formative assessments are observations or games... but actually printing on a summative assessment, in kid friendly terms, exactly what I am expecting them to be able to know and do... hello!

The presenter gave us a nice frame of reference for this. She called several teachers up to the front of the room and lined them up. She asked the first one to clap, which she did. Then she made her leave the room and some of the other teachers "rated" her clapping. Then she came back in and was not given any feedback about her clap. Then the second teacher was asked to clap, which she did... just a little better than the first because she knew that someone was going to critique her. So, like the first, she left and was rated but when she came back, she was told her score. This went on with each teacher clapping a little louder and more enthusiastically and receiving more and more feedback each time they came back in the room until, finally, the last teacher was given a set of criteria on which her clap would be judged. She was even given a little bit of say as to what the criteria would be! Well, her clap was outstanding!

It was a very concrete way to see the importance of really sharing with kids what our expectations are and then providing them specific feedback after an assessment. It really got me thinking about my assessment practices in my own classroom... and my mind spinning with new things to do this summer to get ready!

She also introduced us to the concept of "Two Stars and a Wish" which is something you would have students, potentially, use with one another to give a peer two compliments and one suggestion about a piece of work. This has some great implications for writing, in my opinion. In my classroom, dialog about author's craft is a common thing but I am the one who tends to lead the conversation. We talk about good things that writers do every time we read and write. Reading and writing are my two favorite things to teach and I also like to do both of those things, so I also feel very confident that my students are strong readers and writers. But when I am the one doing most of the talking... well, the "two stars" idea just got me thinking about how important it is to teach our students to give meaningful feedback to one another and what a cute and kid-friendly way to present it!

So, I made this sign that I plan to hang in my room with sentence starters on it. Enjoy!

Did I mention that not only am I a comprehension and data geek, but I get super jazzed about writing too? :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Teaching Comprehension

Teaching reading and comprehension strategies is like my most favorite time of the day. I get so excited and feel like such a geek when I talk about comprehension with my kids or other teachers... I just think it is incredible how readers access so many skills and strategies and, when they become experts, they don't even know they are doing it! Seriously. I love to read and when I notice myself making connections or inferring something... even realizing I am not comprehending and knowing to go back and re-read... ahhhh! It just makes me so happy!!!!!!

This is why CAFE is a natural fit in my classroom. Not only do I get to explicitly teach comprehension skills, but I get to model like crazy while reading awesome books to my kiddos and, because we post our strategies on the CAFE menu, we see them all the time and they just become part of our reading vocabulary. There is nothing better in the world than eavesdropping on kids when they are discussing books with a partner and hearing comprehension in action!

Anyway, back to the point of this whole post, during summer school I am teaching about connections, visualizing, and predicting. I only have three weeks, so I can't get as crazy about them as I would like but we've done some great activities and gotten to read a lot of great books. BUT... one thing my students are not doing is accessing their prior knowledge. We have talked about prior knowledge, I modeled like crazy, but they just aren't really using theirs... or, if they are, it is for very surface level things.

SO... I created this graphic organizer below. I haven't used it yet and won't be at summer school for the next two days (going to a conference on data... not only am I a comprehension geek, but I love data too! And don't even get me started on reading data!) so we will be using it on Monday. I have gathered a variety of picture books that have a setting/plot that revolve around a particular location. I am going to ask my students to choose one of them and write down all prior knowledge they have of that location, categorized by their senses. I am hopeful that this will get them thinking about all of the ways we can think about something... and help them draw thoughtful conclusions, make meaningful connections, and be able to truly visualize what an author is saying!

So, enjoy this comprehension artifact! And, if you are a reading comprehension geek too... give me a holler in my comments! Please tell me I'm not the only one who gets giddy about it!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Classroom Photos

Right now summer school is in full swing. I am trying to take advantage of the extra time in my classroom to start getting organized for the fall... so I've been arriving for summer school and hour early and staying an hour or so after. I think I've gotten a lot done! The last day is June 30 and I hope to have enough ready that I can enjoy my July... my husband and I are going on a trip to New York City (YESSSS!) and I want to enjoy it without feeling guilty for not going in to school!

I hope you'll enjoy these photos of Room 10! So far, I'm liking this blogging thing... but did update my classroom site today too with tons of pictures of my CAFE pensieve. So, check that out too!

This is my writing table. Thank you friends, for supporting this project on Donor's Choose for me!

Here's the mess behind my desk! Can you see my colorful bins from Lakeshore Learning? I love that weekly organizer! The pink crates are filled with picture books that are organized by 6 Traits (in the one on the left) and best books for modeling specific reading comprehension skills (the one on the right). There's also a crate in the middle turned on its side. That has my Daily Five, writing workshop, and reading comprehension binders that are huge resources to me all through the year. That crate also has certain Mailbox books and other "teacher" books that I can't live without!

Happy Birthday! So far mine is the only candle!

My summer school kids are enjoying this new book nook I created! Comfy pillows, a place to stretch the legs, and a view of the playground... what could be better?

Check out this fun stuff that we do sometimes at morning meeting!

Even more fun goodies!

We love the Daily Five!

Here's my easel and chair where I sit. I'm really digging that apple footstool underneath!

Here's the view of part of our classroom library!

The rest of the library... and then kid "stuff" on the right!

I have totally rearranged the room for next year and made myself a little corner of the board to use just with my reading groups! Here it is!

The math wall!

Just a peek at my guided reading organization. I run strategy groups and leveled groups. These drawers contain materials for my leveled groups.

Here's our rug! Another Donor's Choose blessing!

This is my guided reading table. Notice the little easel... I love it! Notice the fan... my room is hot!

This is my bulletin board... just for me! :)

Love the built in bookshelf! Perfect for my teacher books and all my resource books too.
This is the view from the door. I just made the leap from desks to tables and am using my summer school kids as a sort of guinea pig... so far they are liking it and I am too!

More "guided reading" organization and goodies. The two boxes on the bottom right- the sight word kits- are two of the most expensive but best investments I have made in my classroom! I love them!!!!! Sadly, I just looked up the link for you and saw they have been discontinued. If you're up for a hunt, I know you'd be happy once you located them!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Just a test!

Ok. As someone new to the world of blogging... though a pro at website-ing... I'm going to attempt to post a link to a document. I'm crossing my fingers!

You asked for it!

I have had lots of questions about and requests for me to start a classroom blog... I'm so flattered!  :)

So, this is me... attempting to set up a blog.  You can always reach me on my site too:  www.bainbridgeclass.com!
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