Monthly Archives: April 2014

An ordinary day

Today is my birthday.
It was an ordinary day.

I’m on spring break but that doesn’t mean much because there’s always something to do.
My husband and I ran errands.

Later, our niece and nephew came by. We celebrated with cake and ice cream.

I don’t need much for my birthday.
All I want is family and friends around.
I know it may sound strange and like I’m being modest,
but it’s the truth.

So, talking with my daughters on the phone, and spending time with my son and
my husband is the only gift I want.

All in all, it was a good day. I even bought a Mike Wazowski for myself!

Seriously, though, I’m grateful for what I have and that’s all that really matters.

 Source: http://monster.wikia.com/wiki/Mike_Wazowski

Cross posted to Two Writing Teachers Tuesday Slice of Life.

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You Have Made a Difference

I’m posting this video in honour of International Teacher’s Day, April 13th.

My son shared it with me just now.

I admit that I shed a tear or two towards the end.

I hope you will enjoy it, too.

You Have Made A Difference

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Cup half full or cup half empty? How do you see the world?

How do you view your days?
As a cup half empty or a cup half full?

Although, I move between the two perspectives,
I try to stay inside the “cup half full” camp.
Sometimes I succeed but not very often.

I know it’s more pleasant and enriching to see the positive side of things.
But I have a difficult time letting go.

I read somewhere that it is “human nature” to hold onto the negative aspect of things.
So I’m OK, right?

Either way, I’m working on letting go of what’s not working,
such as holding onto grudges, negative thoughts or feelings.

What about you?

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What role do/can/should students play in their own assessment?

Today I am going to try to respond to another question I posed in a recent post about assessment. If you want to read my musings about the first two questions, you can read them here and here. I don’t pretend to have all the answers to these questions but ruminating about them allows me to consider some possible solutions or points of view. I invite readers of this blog to engage in this conversation with me. 

I also want to acknowledge my PLN – #sblchat – for bold discussions on standards based grading and learning that are enriching my thinking about assessment.

What role do/can/should students play in their own assessment?

This is one of my favourite questions about assessment.

For me, it is so crystal clear that students need to be involved in their own assessment, that it’s almost a non sequitur. Creating projects; setting goals and developing plans to meet them; assessing progress on those goals; and setting new goals, are all important aspects of the role students can play in their own assessment. 

Knowing how to monitor learning – the process and the product – should not be the sole domain of the teacher. Students can be taught to do this as well. This requires an environment of trust and safety so that students can take reasonable risks. It also requires modelling and practice by both the teacher and the students. As Katie Wood Ray once said to a group of teachers, ‘Whatever assignment you give your students, you must do yourself at least once,’ that way you can anticipate problems and challenges that students may encounter. Furthermore, you will be able to provide strategies for students as they tackle new learning.

Self-assessments can take many forms. Some of the more familiar ones are written or oral reflections, exit tickets, checklists, and questionnaires. Some brave teachers go as far as determining grades jointly with their students. If there is a great deal of discrepancy between the two grades, then the teacher can engage in a conversation with the student to determine where their perceptions differ. How that is handled after that would be determined by the comfort level and staying power of the teacher.

The point here is that we need to find as many different ways as possible for students to take ownership of their learning. Including students in their own assessment is a critical step in this direction.
     

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Is it too late?

She tries to stare me down.
Get my attention.
Let me know that she is there.
I never look,
though I am tempted.
I watch the video and
keep my gaze steady
the whole time.

In the hallways, she smiles now.
A mocking smile.
A smile that says, “I’ll get you.”
“You think you’ve won,
but this isn’t over yet.”

She walks around the school,
with her entourage,
and stealthily commands
their attention.

How does an early adolescent
amass so much power and
lead the rest astray?

Someone said that a person’s
behaviour is set by age 8.
Is this why no one attempts to reach her?
Everyone has given up?
Settled in?
Found a comfortable spot from which to view
her world?

But, I refuse to accept that there’s nothing
that can be done.
Is it too late?

It’s never too late.

Cross posted to Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life.

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What should teachers do to prepare students for an upcoming assessment? Is this even the right question to ask?

Today I am going to try to respond to another question I posed in a recent post about assessment. You can read that post here. And if you want to read my musings about the first question, you can read it here. I don’t pretend to have all the answers to these questions but ruminating about them allows me to consider some possible solutions or points of view. I invite readers of this blog to engage in this conversation with me. 

I also want to acknowledge my PLN – #sblchat – for bold discussions on standards based grading and learning that are enriching my thinking about assessment.

What should teachers do to prepare students for an upcoming assessment? Is this even the right question to ask?

No. This is not the right question to ask. Preparing students for an assessment means that everything we do in the classroom is geared towards taking tests. Preparing students for an upcoming assessment is tantamount to teaching to the test. 

Instead, we should be doing everything possible to provide challenging opportunities that engage students because they are intrinsically interesting. This means that a stand up and deliver style of teaching won’t work to engage and capture the minds of our students. The alternative, however, is not a horse and pony show but rather a well-thought out arrangement of learning spaces and invitations that allow students to use their interests and questions to help them learn better.

How this translates into learning events in the classroom is dependent on the teacher and her current group of students. The point, in case I haven’t yet made it clear, is that students are, first and foremost, learners, not test taking machines. Preparing students for tests means there are hurdles to be jumped and specific objectives to be met. We close the door to alternative learning paths when what counts is limited to a set of narrow standards and benchmarks. 

We must truly see (observe) and know (likes and dislikes, interests and passions) the learners we interact with every day of the school year. It is to them that we must remain accountable.    



  

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Haikus

After blogging for 30 days and continuing this habit in April, I took this weekend off to see what it feels like. I think I like the idea of not posting on Fridays and Saturdays. It seems like these are good days to do something else. But, it’s Sunday and so I’m back.

In honor of Poetry Month, I decided to write a couple of haikus. Even though haikus are traditionally about nature, mine are about mundane, everyday topics. Maybe it will inspire you to write some poetry.

Note: This site explains that there is variability in the number of syllables used in a haiku written in English as opposed to the original Japanese haikus. I chose to write my haikus using the traditional three line 5-7-5 syllable configuration.

Haiku #1
The hot sun beating
on my red face makes me sweat.
It’s time to go home.
Haiku #2
Our dogs run freely
across the wide and green field.
Out of breath, they rest.
Haiku #3
The soccer game starts.
The home team controls the ball. 
Quickly they lose it. 

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