We are in the midst of the crazy race to the finish of the year. Managing report cards, creating engaging lessons, planning field trips, end of year activities...the list could go on and on.
Yet, no matter what, in a few short weeks, many of us will begin our summer break.
As the school year comes to a close, it is the time of year in the cycle of teaching when we begin to reflect on the past year and make summer plans. One might think these are two separate tasks, yet often times these go hand in hand. Our chosen profession is relatively unique in that many of us have an end, a break, and then a new opportunity for a fresh start every year.
Below you will find a few articles that might help you embrace these three stages:
Hopefully, these resources will help you finish the school year strong, dive into summer, and start fresh again in the fall.
This post brought to you by Ann Miller, K-8 Math Specialist, along with
Heather Lyke and Jen Coenen, Secondary Implementation Associates
As the school year draws to a close I am hearing many conversations about continued summer learning. Some people are planning to attend conferences, others are planning to keep learning by traveling, and still others are collecting titles for podcasts and other articles they want to read. Another popular topic has been doing some additional reading and learning about grading for learning. Here are seven ideas for growing your grading for learning mindset:
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However, if doesn’t spark joy, set it aside. Consider making three piles or lists for those items that no longer spark joy in you and your students:
This, at least for me, is the hardest part of tidying up. It may help to keep in mind what Marie Kondō notes in her first book: “when we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.”
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Finish discarding before moving on.
Likewise, in our classrooms, we have to get rid of—or least commit to revamping—those items that no longer fit our students. Only then, once we see what remains, do we know what new format or structure might work best for the year to come. Only then, do we see if we have any gaps in our instruction.
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Organize by category.
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Designate a spot for everything.
This step reminds me of what I did about ten years ago when I revamped the American Literature course I was teaching. After having purged a few novels and some grammar units that were no longer sparking joy in my students, I rearranged. Because I figuratively laid everything out on the table, I was able to then see that my remaining content, texts, lessons, etc. fit into six themes. Embracing that fact, I rearranged from teaching American Literature chronologically, as I had always done in the past, to teaching it thematically. But it also meant I had some holes to fill: I was suddenly able to weave in a new book group unit and adjust how I taught grammar by embedding into our reading and writing tasks. It was a lot of work, but, ultimately, it lead to more effective learning in the years that followed.
As my husband and I are experiencing firsthand with our home, the act of downsizing can feel overwhelming while in the process of discarding. However, we look forward to placing all our remaining items back in the best order (ideally, in our perfect-for-us condo in downtown Rochester).
As Marie Kondō states, “the space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming...not for the person we were in the past.” This is true for our classrooms, too: we need to make them a place where students can grow into who they will become in this ever-changing world...not for the students we taught in the past.
For today’s post, I thought I would step outside of my comfort zone and go in the complete opposite direction: almost NO words!
Disclaimer: this blog entry and its contents are intended to be lighthearted; yet, on topic. I did my best to find relevant memes with a low likelihood of offending readers. If I have missed either target, I do apologize.
Why Grading for Learning is important
Grading for Learning, Big Idea #1: Homework, quizzes, and other daily tasks are formative practice and should not negatively impact a summative academic grade
Grading for Learning, Big Idea #2: Reassessment is allowed on all summative assessments
Grading for Learning, Big Idea #3: Nonacademic factors are not counted in the summative academic grade
Grading for Learning, Big Idea #4: Only evidence of student proficiency toward learning targets on summative assessments is used to reach a summative academic grade
- Grading for Learning
- Homework and Extra Credit: Grading for Learning , Part II
- Academic Dishonesty and Late Work: Grading for Learning , Part III
If you have any questions about Grading for Learning, please do not hesitate to connect with me.
Here are three quick tips and resources to help shore up your classroom routines and procedures so you maximize learning in the fourth quarter:
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Greet students at the door with a sign that says I Love a Silent Start and train them to read the board and begin the entry task silently. This is a great way to channel the high energy that may be coming in from the hallway and get students focused on the learning that they’ll do during the hour. Some teachers do a quick write on the topic that you’ll be working on or a quick review from the day before.
The Teaching Channel has this great video of the routine!
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Plan for Movement
Since we know students are going to be needing to move even more in the spring, plan this into your lesson. Here are some of my favorite teaching moves that allow students to move and talk with one another:
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Be Explicit about Behavior Expectations
- How should students enter the room?
- What should students do when they hear my signal?
- What should students do when they return from being absent?
- What are the teacher’s expectations for electronic devices in the classroom?
- What are my expectations for classroom clean up?
- What is our ending classroom routine?
If you would like help with any of these tips your instructional coaches are an awesome resource! You could request that they support you with one particular hour that may need additional reinforcement or just do some planning with them.
Here’s to an awesome and productive spring filled with learning and engagement.
All of us have those days where we wished we could press rewind and start over. But there is no rewind button. We just have to keep on keeping on and hope that whatever has crept into our day to sour it dissipates as soon as possible. I would like to share a recent experience I had with my dog, Walda. (Did you really think I would write a blog post without mentioning her?)
While this girl is no longer considered a puppy (she turned 3 on April 2nd), she does possess an endearing puppy-like quality. Man, this girl has done so much for me. She’s licked my face, rested her head in my lap, brought me her tug toy to play with, you know, all the typical doggie-companion stuff. But just a few days ago, I realized what she has done for me in the vein of personal/spiritual growth.
Now, back to what she taught me a few days ago. I came home and, just like clockwork, she got all sorts of excited: zoomies, pet my belly, here’s my tennis ball, tippy-tappy with her big-girl paws, circle-circle-circle.
I asked Dr. Cecil White Hat (Rosebud Sioux Tribal Member, deceased) one time why it seems we suffer so much from historical trauma.
He looked at me and said, “We have forgotten how to use our natural medicines.”
Great. Now, here comes a discussion on roots and herbs. And, because I hold much respect and admiration for this Elder, I need to listen to what he is going to say.
He must have sensed what I was thinking, because he then said, “Our laughter and tears, we have forgotten how to use our laughter and tears.”
I know I always feel good after a laugh or a cry. But why? Our tears release cortisol. If that doesn’t come out during a good cry, it stays in the body and can cause all sorts of negative effects. Cecil was a very wise man. He never carried himself as if he were a walking library. He was a relatable guy. I am forever grateful to have spent time with him and I appreciate his words and lessons.
His brother, Albert White Hat (Rosebud Sioux Tribal Member, deceased), was also well known for his Lakota language and culture revitalization work on the Rosebud Indian Reservation. In this video, he talks about the importance of forgiveness and what can happen if you hold onto anger.
We all get caught up in our feelings and emotions and there is nothing wrong with that. But if we stay stuck in our own thoughts, we may just lose sight of what is really important. Make a commitment to yourself to never allow your own thoughts to blind you to what you have in front of you. Tears come up to come out. Let them out and let go.
One more thing, if your dog brings you her slimy tennis ball, or does circle-circle-circle, or wants sporadic belly rubs: engage. These beings are in our life not by accident, of this much I am sure. I love you and your slimy tennis ball, Walda.
Feel free to contact Bjoraker at 507.328.4236 or to connect with her via email
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Members of the Secondary C&I team weekly post useful tools, tips, and tricks to help you help students.
Analysis & Inquiry
Grading For Learning
Instructional Learning Formats
Planning For A Sub
Quality Of Feedback
Regard For S's Perspective