Wednesday, March 19, 2014

My March Madness

As we close in on our last day of TCAP testing, I find myself eager to get back into routines and actually teach. I feel like we all do so much better in an enviornment that is predictable and efficient. This was how I felt until our team looked at the units we need to teach and the amount of testing that still needs to get done. It feels like a rushed spuratic race to the finish line! I was hoping to really enjoy the last units of studies with my class and try new projects with lower stress. However, I now see that our return from break is full of MAPS, CMAS, as well as unit and district writing assessments. While I know this data is important, I feel like my kids are going to hate me by the end of all of it! I feel like I will be cramming curriculum down their throats inbetween testing and crazy schedules. I know I will find joy and great teaching opportunities in the midst of our crazy, but I just needed a moment to freak out about the amount of things that need to get done and the amount of things I'd like to get done in the short time we have left. :)
Monday, March 17, 2014

Article Read: No Wonder Nobody Wants to Come

By: Ira Socol

Summary: This article discusses the need for more classrooms to operate as a whole group collaboration instead of an independent work environment. If students want to do independent work and just check in with an expert on occasion, then why should they waste their time coming to school. There are plenty of educational video resources (Khan Academy) that could provide that learning and the students could be in a more relaxed environment. The idea of isolation learning is not much different from the teacher that has taught the same material in the same way for the last 30 years. In order for students to be better learners and more engaged, classrooms should support the following structure: driven by student choice, personalized time lines and schedules, technology that supports their learning, and adult rankings to standards. Without this structure, the author suggests that students have no reason to bother coming to school.

My Reflection:

The writer addresses many hot topics that educators are discussing more and more. She has many great points but also limited perspective to truly making this environment work consistently in a public school setting. First, I agree with the need for students to have as much choice as possible in the work they do. While it is still guided and monitored, I feel that students will push themselves far more when they are engaged. Also, I agree that working together to solve problems and analyze new information is very important to be molded in our classrooms. That is very true to how our work world operates and is an enviornment that students need to be familiar with. This article also addresses the use of technology. Technology is not going anywhere so it is imperative that students learn how to use it to assist their learning as well as expand their current world. I would rather teach students the appropriate use of technology while under a protective umbrella of school moderation. My concerns about this article stem from the realities of having very diverse learners at many different levels, classroom size and lack of resources, as well as the importance to learn to do tasks well that you may not completely enjoy--i.e. perseverance. So, yes, I do embrace many of the practices this author states, but I feel that there are outside factors that drive your teaching as well as different groups have different developmental needs. My goal is to use collaborative teaching that allows my students to be the forces behind the work selected while also instilling foundational concepts and work habit.

Monday, March 17, 2014

So why is it that every insecurity I have as a teacher feels extremely heightened in February and March? Oh wait... I know... let the standardized testing begin. I have had many days where I have felt like I was harming students more than helping them! I know that I am, by nature, very hard on myself but I just want to see my students shine as the writers that I know they are. Therefore, when I do some practice test writing samples, and a student asks me what a paragraph is, or doesn't include a topic sentence, or is still not indenting, I feel completely discouraged. I understand that the high stakes tests are just snapshots, but I still feel a great deal of pressure for them to succeed. I will be very happy when this week is over and we can get back into our routine of Writer's Workshop. Oh wait... then we have MAPS and CMAS. I guess this is why this time of the year feels so hectic. I hope all of you are seeing great success in your classrooms and are getting through these weeks of testing. :)