Sunday, October 30, 2011

Wouldn't Everyone Have a D?

Some of you may remember the post from last February, #SBAR Thoughts. A post from last February just got a new comment today from Meg, nearly 9 months later. The post was in response to our district switching 6th grade to standards based reporting that they had been craving for a while.
I would argue that English is the best subject that it works in.  The reason that this works is because of the standards, if your standards are too general or too hard to accomplish then it will not work.  If a standard for Grammar Punctuation was "Places periods in appropriate spots after sentences" that would be a piece of cake for a normal 6th grader to do. If the standard was "Uses proper quotation and comma placement to structure a quote" that would be more leveled for 6th grade. 

I can't speak for other schools but middle school teachers in our district use standards behind the scenes for their own purposes of tracking student knowledge and understanding. But they have to then take those standards and form a rubric that converts them into points to put in the grade book. Not only does that take more time but the simile I like to use with it is that you have to measure in inches and report it centimeters, kind of pointless.

Language Arts is subjective at times. For example, last year we studied the holocaust for a month. It wasn't social studies so the standards weren't to understand and grasp what happened in the holocaust but to understand the social effects, and dive through writing from the time period. In the grammar example I gave above you could grade them on a worksheet and give 5/5 points for secure,4/5 for developing. The issue with that is they got an 80% because they slipped on one problem and in the grade book that's the only thing that is reflective of that. Where when you use standards you take into account that worksheet, group work, independent practice, formative and summative assessments to decide what they receive on that one concept.

Everyone puts their own little spin on standards based reporting but it still comes back to the standard. In a standard of "understand and use the 201 concepts of grammar" everyone would be developing. Standards are sorted and specific and that's what makes them work.

I hope I didn't throw you under the bus too far Meg. :)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Six Standards, That's It

Last Wednesday the Kee Squad group at our middle school taught Google Calendar to all the teachers in the building to incorporate into their new blogs, I think(look at how much I knew what I was doing.  We split the teachers in half: advanced & beginner.

Life got in the way earlier that week and all I had going into that presentation was a list of 6 items to teach.  I thought this would be easy to do and I tried my best to flow with it.  I thought, "All I had to do was go through a list of six things to teach, six standards, that's it."

Within the 10 minutes (I went into this not knowing how much time I would have) I feel like we completed one of those standards.  Maybe I had over scheduled that session, maybe I didn't prepare enough, maybe it was more difficult to teach 25 people SIX things in 10 minutes than I thought.  What ever it was I felt like I crashed and burned while my co-pilot was dead in the passenger seat.

I had planned on doing live demonstrations on the projector step-by-step while they followed along on their laptops.  I had planned on letting them explore that for a minute or two before we moved onto the next.  The two times I attempted to do live demos on sharing a calendar and subscribing to a calendar the page wouldn't load, the dongle came unplugged three random times in the presentation and the ELMO wasn't even set-up yet.
After I fiddled around for 5 minutes we got into Calendar labs. Everyone turned on event bling and I individually helped people.  That one thing was finally going so good I thought I could bring this crashing jet back on track when my ten minutes (that I never knew I had) were magically up and 25 people were out of sight in 30 seconds.

What I learned from this is that live demonstrations barely ever work when trying to do them with a crowd, screen shots are the way to go.  Coming right in and getting right to the point without daddling will give me more time to teach.  The projector needs to be set-up and turned on before everyone comes into the room.  Next week I get a chance to repent my sins.  I have an attack plan and only five standards to cover this time with about 15 minutes.  I now have a new understanding for teachers having to make these lesson plans daily and having to teach it six times a day, all though I would rather do that than have to do the work.

I Let Go

Today I let go of every and anything normal.  My day was a routine, a boring and repetitive routine.

  1. I woke up at 6:40 this morning, 30 minutes later than normal.  I put clothes on, brushed my teeth, grabbed my phone, and was out the door 15 minutes after.  
  2. I snapped this morning in the library, tried to ignore the fact that I did it and moved on (or so I thought).
  3. I organized stencils into a perfect stack while we watched a video.
  4. I watched Finding Nemo in Spanish and wrote down new words.
  5. I went to art and focused on painting. Just painting. Everything else was blocked out.
  6. I went to P.E. and played dodge ball for 10 minutes until I left early to eat lunch with my advisory.
  7. I ate lunch (cheese bread ins't too long of a lunch) while listening to everyone elses weekend plans, relationship drama, and sports team arguments (the regular 8th grade chatter).
  8. I put on a peppy mood when we were doing our 1k walk and cheering on others but my mood fell off after doing that for 2 hours.
  9. I watched yet another movie in social studies on the French & Indian War.  It was probably the highlight of my day.
  10. I took a quiz in math and missed one problem (and got 85% on it).  I didn't even bat an eye when I didn't get an A.
  11. I participated in 40 minutes of credible sources and searching techniques in English.
  12. I fixed a TV, projector, and worked on a video question for 3 different teachers. It was a slow day tech help wise.
My point of giving you my daily schedule wasn't to make you feel sad for the off day I had or about how many movies and quizzes and notes I take a day (you wouldn't believe it).  It was to show you that I made it through a day of doing this.  I let go of any emotions after 7:55 this morning.  I put no effort into the remainder of my day.  I let go of any leadership I had in me and was a regular person.  I followed others all day and probably couldn't have told you what time it was all day.  I worried about nothing but the one task at hand.  I didn't read a book all day and got something out of my binder once.  I did things like a regular middle schooler, like the other 825 kids in the building.  I felt like a robot.