Sunday, April 12, 2015

What I'm Reading

I did get some good reading done over break...
I finished these:

And I am currently reading this:

And my current edu-reads:

Friday, April 10, 2015


So, I committed to blogging every day in April. And here it is, April 10, and this is my first post! Oops. It is also the Friday of Spring Break, so you would think I had plenty of time to keep up with this challenge. I have to admit that part of the reason I haven't been bit by the blogging bug is that I've found the topics difficult to write about. I decided today that that can't be an excuse. I love my blog and I hate when I go so long without posting.

So today my post will probably feel like whining or ranting. I'll apologize in advance. But sometimes I think you just have to let the frustrations out to release the block. That is my hope anyway. This spring break I have slept. A lot. Close to 12 hours every night. I feel refreshed. I feel lazy. I brought a TON of work home to get done but I completed very little.

I am involved with two different projects at the state level here in Michigan. One of those is a formative assessment project called FAME. I love this project. I am so passionate about the formative assessment process and the promise it has to change classroom culture as well as the depth of learning of students. So I have some work around that project that I must have done by the end of June when we head to our retreat.

I am also working with a group called MAISA. Among the many projects they have going, one of their most popular is the creation of Reading and Writing Units that follow the workshop model and are aligned to CCSS. One downfall of the units was their lack of grammar instruction, but over the last year a group of teachers (part of the Mi ELA Network) has been creating grammar mini-lessons for the units. Each summer the group has an institute to help teachers in implementing these units and I will be presenting at that I have a presentation to complete for that!

And those units I mentioned? This school year was the first year that my district adopted those units, so I have been coaching and modeling for the 6th grade ELA teacher. And I love the units but they are taking much longer than I would think. This is happening at each grade level and I think it will get better as the years progress and students have the background of the previous years' units. Out of 8 units, I am on unit 5 with the 6th grade. I have to wrap that up next week. Then I have 7 weeks to complete 3 units! I'm not sure it can be done, but I was supposed to carve out time over break to plan how to accomplish that. But again, I am not sure it can be done. Because on top of those three units we have...TESTING...

Before I left the school for spring break I had to put together a schedule for three grade levels to complete the new online M-STEP test (which is, let me just say, RIDICULOUS! I tried the practice 6th grade ELA test and there were questions I did not know the answer to!) and the online NWEA MAP test. Which means there will be NO technology for regular instruction basically from now to the end of the year. And at least one full week of testing, probably more once you count up all the time. How can we teach around that with any continuity? How can we expect our middle school kids to take any of the testing we do seriously?

AND the other thing I brought home to work on over spring break? School improvement! Because on top of teaching and testing and planning and reflecting, we are supposed to analyze data from assessments and from student, parent, and staff surveys and conduct a Program Evaluation and write a new School Improvement Plan with an additional Technology Plan for next year.

But you know what I did work on over break? This:
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And it was worth it.