Oh boy, Week 3 felt like it was 9 days long. I think this is always a hard week every year. I consider weeks 1 and 2 the ‘honeymoon’ weeks where everyone is bringing their best. By Week 3, however, the students are progressively more tired and receiving increasingly longer and more challenging assignments in all of their classes. They have gotten over the shiny sparkle of going back to school. We’re not “Back to School,” anymore – this is life for the next 37 weeks. As we accept our fate and embrace the routine of things, we must also celebrate the many highlights of the week!
1. Guess the Reader – My favorite highlight of the week has been the “Guess the Reader” contest going on throughout the school. The students are sneakily trying to figure out who is behind each book by asking us totally not obvious questions and trying to get sneak peeks at our hands. I’ll announce a winner on Monday, and the winner will be invited to choose a brand new book from their wish lists.
2. Timeline – I am teaching Social Studies again this year. We will cover content from the founding of the 13 colonies up through the War on Terror and everything in between. I decided to post a classroom timeline to help my students get a sense of how events relate to one another chronologically. So far, this has been very helpful. My plan is to take a moment after finishing each chapter to have my students vote on an image that could symbolically represent that chapter as well as to decide where the image should be placed on the timeline.
3. AIMSWeb – I was trained in AIMSWeb this week. It is an assessment and tracking tool created by Pearson publishing. As an interventionist, I will use this tool to provide weekly probes to my students and track their progress toward becoming ‘on grade level.’ The training was a full 7 hours and included practice with a training module. I completely understand that this tool is necessary and I accept that this is the direction we must head as an educational community, however I still have several reservations about AIMSWeb. My main reservation has to do with the assessment tools themselves. To track reading progress, AIMSWeb provides a reading fluency measure (a running record) and another component called Maze to assess ‘comprehension.’ Maze provides students with a cloze passage in which every 7th word is missing and students must choose between the options to decide which word makes the most sense. I do not believe this to be an accurate or comprehensive measure of reading comprehension, nor does it align with any common core standards and expectations for what constitutes reading comprehension. What is Maze testing, exactly? Grammar? Vocabulary? There is so much more to comprehension. What about locating evidence in the text? Making inferences? Analysis, compare and contrast, or critique? I hope that educators and administrators will use AIMSWeb data as one of several tools to track student progress and make any high stakes decisions about a student’s education.
4. Classroom Mantra – “Why are you here?” On Wednesday, I was very moved by Alicia Keys’ advice she shared on my morning commute radio program. Every hour, everywhere, she asks herself about her purpose. It’s a simple question that can mean so many things. I decided to put the mantra on my classroom door for myself and for my students. Why are you here today? What do you hope to accomplish? What is your purpose on this planet?
5. Graze – I am LOVING having a Graze subscription this year. I so look forward to it every Tuesday. I log on to my account and let them know how I liked each snack, which helps them to send me more of the snacks I will like. They are healthy, filling, and tasty, with the bonus of being a surprise and not the same boring things I always buy. Loving it!
How was your week? I’d love to hear in the comments below!
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