Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I Wanna Be Perfect

I am tired of making mistakes.  I am tired of not knowing the right thing to say.  I am tired of all kinds of problems.  I want to be perfect.  AND, I just found out a way to make it happen.

The latest read aloud in Reading Workshop is Be a Perfect Person in Just Three Days written by Stephen Manes.  After the first chapter, I got some really good news.  Dr. K. Pinkerton Silverfish is going to tell me how to become perfect.

No more bad jokes!  No more saying the wrong thing and upsetting people!  Every student will learn all that they are supposed to every day.  Life will be great and it all starts next week.  In just a few days, you will see a new me and I WILL BE PERFECT!

What about you my brilliant young students?  Are you going to join me and become perfect?  Will you soon become flawless?  How will that change things?

Oh, by the way, wanna is not a word and if I was already perfect, I would have said want to in the title.

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Friday, March 18, 2011

A Fun Way to Learn Test Vocabulary

Learning vocabulary is never fun for students.  However, a large part of success when taking the Ohio Achievement Assessment is determined by students' working vocabulary.  Looking for an interesting way to build the vocab of students in Reading Workshop led me to Quia.  This is an online site that features games and quizzes.  

There is a library of items created by teachers that are available to anyone to use.  Creating new games and quizzes is easy to do when you want to use specific terms.  My personal favorite is the Rags to Riches game which is similar to Who Wants to be a Millionaire.

To see the activities that students are participating in so far, you can visit my Profile Page.

Give it a try. Maybe you can learn a few new words and win a million dollars!

Friday, March 11, 2011

I Hate Grades!

The end of the nine weeks is here.  Work has been turned in and graded.  But what if a student's average doesn't fit what they have accomplished?  Should a teacher adjust it to reflect what the student has earned?  Or should it be the result of vocabulary quizzes on Quia, Study Island, and objective scores on writing assignments?

Student #1
He has given everything he can possibly give to be successful.  He started the year hating to read.  Now, he reads almost every night at home.  He pays attention in class and does his best on every assignment.  He asks for help if he doesn't understand.  He has turned in every assignment.  Low Study Island scores have been a big detriment to his grade.  Although his grades reflect his ability, his growth should earn him an A+.

Student #2
She is the model for all students.  Her attitude and work ethic is unbelievable.  She has always struggled finishing books.  This nine weeks she has finished three of the last four she started.  The book she quit was a bad selection, she recognized that, and found a better book.  Her writing has consistently improved all year.  Her blog posts have become more detailed and cleaner.  Poor vocabulary quiz grades have lowered her score.

Student #3
The work he turns in is not close to his best.  He completes assignments quickly, with the main idea being just to get them done.  He is a pretty good student so his grades are good.  He has not shown much growth, but does OK because school comes fairly easy to him.

Student #4
His attitude stinks.  He has turned in most assignments, but not all.  His grade is poor and does not reflect his ability at all.  He should be on the honor roll but isn't due to lack of effort.  As a reader, he is able to do high quality work.  Even though he has a low grade, his ability is in the B range.

What grades did these students earn?  What grades do they deserve?  Are they the same?

Should grades be solely based on achievement?  Or should a student's effort and attitude be part of the grade?  Should improvement matter?   Should missing assignments count even if a students has mastered the objective?  Or should all grades be based on results of classwork and quizzes? Should students receive a class participation grade that reflects their in class involvement and work ethic?

What if the teacher knows with absolute certainty that a grade does not reflect a student's output for the grading period?  Should the teacher adjust the grade accordingly?

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sometimes You Have to Laugh

A student downstairs in Ms. Wooten's third grade ask if she thought the world was going to end in 2012.  

Her answer to that was that she didn't know when the world was going to end.  She said, it could be tomorrow, it could end in 2012, or it could end a million years from now.  I believe that there is only One being that knows the answer to that, and that is the big man upstairs.

The student, without missing a beat, promptly replied, OK, so I'll go ask Mr. McGuire.

If he only knew . . .

Friday, March 4, 2011

Predictions Make Reading Exciting

You start reading and after a little bit, your mind wanders.  After a few minutes, you are bored with the book, ready to quit it and find a better book.  So you look through the books, find one that looks good, and begin to read it.  

Later that night, you get out your new book for the Read at Home assignment.  The first few pages are interesting and you really get into the book.  After about 20 minutes, you start to get bored, and quit reading for the night.

What is happening?  Why are you losing interest in books?  Why is reading boring?


Predictions are what makes reading exciting.  As you read, wondering what will happen next is what makes you part of the book.  And when you predict one thing, and something different happens--WHAM, that is what makes a book exciting. 

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Special thanks to Mrs. Tonya Blubaugh, Intervention Teacher for sparking the conversation that led to this post.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Should Students Be Ability Grouped?

The current read aloud in Reading Workshop is Freak the Mighty written by Rodman Philbrick.  Max, a struggling reader is placed with the "smart" kids so that he can be with Kevin, his disabled friend.  Although the placement is based on the needs of Kevin, it brings to question the decision about placing students in classes.

Ability grouping is the practice of sorting students, mostly in elementary and middle school, into classes based on their ability level.  Those for ability grouping claim it increases student achievement because teachers can provide instruction at the appropriate level that is neither too easy nor too hard for most students.

One of the main arguments against ability grouping is that it creates classes of low achievers who miss out on stimulating discussions with higher achievers.  Labeling students may also communicate self-fulfilling low expectations.

Will Max benefit from being placed in the class with higher achievers?  Would you prefer to be in a class that is ability grouped?  Why or why not?