Friday, March 28, 2008

Our "Quality" Has Been Reviewed

So the first word (given by our principal over the loudspeaker just minutes after the reviewer left) was that our review was "extremely positive" with more details to come.

I'm sorry, but I'm not excited that my school did great on our Quality Review, because it just isn't. For the second year in a row we managed to fool them. If I were the principal I think my goal for next year would be to get the same result without any crazy preparations leading up to the day and a half review. If all these pretend things we did for the review (bulletin boards, data binders, classroom rearrangements, prepping the students and teachers to say the right thing) were just naturally in place all year with out a mention of the QR, THEN I'd be happy we got a good review.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Kindergarten Writing

This week I introduced my kindergarteners to using a rubric to get a "happy face" on their writing. I showed them a big rubric I had made on chart paper and explained all that they would have to do to get a happy face.
- a detailed picture
- a sentence with a capital at the beginning and a period at the end
- spaces between each word
- all words sounded out ("stretched")

After explaining the rubric I asked: "Who wants to do their best writing and get a happy face on their paper?" They all raised their hands and were really excited. AND they all really did their best work of the year. They were so excited to see if they were going to get the happy face on their papers. Even my kids who usually struggle a lot got it with a little help.

There's just one kid, my newcomer, who didn't get the stretching of the words. He's just not there yet developmentally. But he did his neatest writing, a great picture, perfect spacing, copied the sentence starter I have them ("I learned that . . ."), and then wrote a string of letters for the rest of the sentence. I asked him what his sentence said and he said he didn't know. He really did his best work of the year though. So do I give him a happy face or really stick to the rubric and give him the "medium(?) happy face" because he can't stretch his words? He was the only one who couldn't do all four things even with help.

I gave him the medium happy face and told him what an awesome job he did.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


. . . because Ms. Frizzle asked.

Pineapple bits, orange and tangerine marmalade on a whole wheat English muffin, cottage cheese and, of course, coffee.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Now that the math test is over we have the Quality Review to drive us crazy.

I truly think that the quality review team should just show up completely unexpectedly (at any point in the year) without any warning. If we have to "get ready" for it, then we're really just putting on a show, aren't we?

First it was the binders with printouts of data that no one really uses. Do you think the QR people will notice that we printed out test item analysis reports to be analyzed a MONTH after the ELA was already over? Clearly those were not being used to "drive" instruction. So the newest thing is the "Vigilante Squad" (as one first grade teacher calls them). The Vigilante Squad consists of the Principal, AP and both coaches. They are going around from room to room completely changing furniture arrangements, demanding that more charts be added, putting in "centers" that we don't use, and generally causing all the teachers in the school to freak out. They don't consult the teacher on what they are changing, nor do they ask the reasoning behind the current set up of the classroom. When they finish their rearranging, they give the teacher three days to complete the organizing and cleaning (Or else?). The funny part of all this is that the administration has been harping on how when the QR people come "you students better know the routines of your class, how to use things in the room, where to find things, etc." So I guess changing every room in the school just a few weeks before the QR was the best way to ensure that.

If only we put the same amount of time and energy into teaching and planning and collaboration, we might just have a decent school.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

I finally have my week back!

Now that the math test is over, so is after school, Saturday Academy, and weekly PD. That's eight extra hours a week all to myself! This is what I did with my week:
Tuesday-one-on-one training at the Mac store for my new computer
Thursday-Arabic class

I don't regret doing all that I signed up for this year; the extra money was definitely worth it and now the extra time is just that much sweeter. I'll definitely do it again next year.