Sunday, November 6, 2016

So, You Didn't Know Your Kid Had Missing Work?

It never fails when interim reports or report cards are released that parents question the low grades. Well, I know that these low grades are MOSTLY due to LOTS and LOTS of missing work. Naturally, being the "typical teacher" I began reflecting on this issue last school year and knew something had to be done to keep parents more well informed.

I teach 4th grade and my teammates and I have discussed on multiple occasions the "thing" that happens in our school between 3rd and 4th grade. I don't know if this is something that happens in other places, but grades drop. And....parents are not used to it, not informed about it, and don't like it. UNDERSTANDABLE. I want parents to know. It is the missing work combined with more rigor. (I know all you guys know that. I just wanted to type it. Maybe parents will happen upon this somehow or I can send them a telepathic message just by typing it???)

In my school system the interim reports we send home in 4th grade have each individual assignment listed and what grade the student received. (Side note-we use a system which allows parents to log-in anytime and check grades, but from what I have seen most parents at my school do not utilize this tool. I am not sure if they are unaware it exists, don't have the ability to access the information, or something else.) This is great because the parents and students are more informed about how exactly their child has been performing rather than if we just sent home an average. 

Here is why this is not great-

My school has a policy that teachers are not allowed to give zeros on work. (I know the arguments on both sides for why people agree or disagree with this system.) When students have missing work, I check a box to show that it is missing. Unless I am just missing something, this, for some reason, does not show up on the printed interim reports. 

My options when I print my interim reports are that I leave this assignment blank to show it is missing, giving an inaccurate average, or put in the lowest grade we are supposed to give and confuse parents because the assignment has a grade. I always attach a note that says, any missing assignment will have a grade of *lowest grade we can give*. The issue with that is that then parents have no way of knowing if the child had a missing assignment or actually scored below that grade and I had to bump it up to that lowest score. Overall, I think doing this makes it very confusing for everyone involved. 

Alright. What was I going to do about this issue? When I say "Your child has quite a few missing assignments", the most typical response is, "Can you let me know what they are missing and I will have them make it up." a teacher, this is an issue for a couple of reasons...1. I most likely do not have a copy of whatever it was they are missing. (Yes. I should try to be more organized.)  2. It will take me a LONG time to go back to see each exact assignment and then gather them all up. (Yes. I should try to be more organized.) 3. I have done this so many times in the past and then I get....wait for it....NONE of the make-up work made up. 

What did I do? *See above about me needing to be more organized.* Each week on Monday I send home a slip of paper to each student who has missing work. It essentially says that the student is missing some work and I list each assignment that wasn't turned in. I give the student until the last day of the week to make-up whatever it is they are missing. Parents are then required to sign the slip to show that they are aware of what is going on with their child's work. My students know this is REQUIRED to be turned in with a parent signature THE NEXT DAY.

What happens when they don't turn this slip back in the next day? They call home and tell their parents of missing work. This is typically pretty effective in getting those slips turned in. 

Why else does this help? I now have a paper trail informing parents of missing work on a weekly basis. I don't have to keep up with extra copies of assignments and who is missing what for longer than one week! For some students, it makes a difference when they see that list on their desk Monday morning. I am constantly covered when I am questioned by anyone about whether a student was given a chance to make-up work or about grades or any other thing that could be questioned. And lets be real....teachers are questioned about so many things it is nice to have one less thing to worry about.

Below is what I send home. Last year I printed, as is, and wrote in the info. This year, I am keeping this in a weekly google doc. Each student will have one of these slips on the doc and I type in each missing assignment. Then I print as needed.

Dear Parent of ___________,

Here are the grades/assignments your child did not complete or turn in from last week. If your child was absent on the Friday they are still responsible for getting their weekly assignments turned in. Students will be given until the last day of this week to make up the work and turn it in. Your child was given the opportunity over the weekend to take the work home to complete it. Please sign and return to let me know you are aware of any missing assignments.

Missing Assignments:

Parent Signature_______________________________________

Feel free to use this and let me know if you have anything that works for you when it comes to missing student work. I am always looking for ways to make what I am doing more efficient and use the least amount of resources.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Top Ten Things Teaching Has Taught Me

So, I saw this Linky Party after I had already posted today, but it looked fun and I am going to join in!

10. This job becomes a life style-I am incapable of "leaving it at the office." It doesn't matter where I am, the time of day, or what my plans were...If I am in the vicinity of another teacher, the teacher talk will start and it is very difficult to stop it! As teachers, we live everything that is school and can talk about any of it at the drop of a hat.

9. Laminating makes me feel like a new person-I LOVE to laminate anything and everything that can purposefully be laminated. It makes everything so shiny and durable!

8. How to calmly call 911-Before teaching I had never experienced how to deal with injuries. Unfortunately, I have been through the 911 and ambulance riding experience on multiple occasions. I hope that I don't ever have to go through it again, but I now know that I can take care of those types of situations.

7. Deep care and concern for someone not in my family or friends circle-I had a student last year who had challenges in his home and school life that I could never have imagined. The things he endured and then the way those things presented themselves during the school day made me have compassion for another human I never thought possible.

6. Sometimes I forget to go to the bathroom-Nature calls. I am too busy making copies, faxing, grading, having meetings, and picking up students before planning is over to answer that call.

5. During the school year, I do not bring home work-When I leave school, I stop school related tasks, I do not bring home papers to grade, I do not cut, sort, file, or plan.

4. I thrive when I am on a strict schedule-Summer break is the best. Summer break has no set schedule. It is difficult for me. After about a month into the break I MISS knowing what to do every moment between 7:30 and 3:30. I am so unproductive without lists and a time frame in which I need to finish tasks.

3. I am in this job for a reason-I truly believe that I am in put in the school and classroom that I am in because there is someone that I am supposed to help. It is possible that I will never know that I have helped that person, and sometimes I think that person is me, but I am there to help them.

2. Friends come in all kinds of bodies-Up until we graduate from high school or college we think that our friends need to be someone who is the same as us. Not exactly the same, but someone of a similar age who has lived very similarly to us. I have learned in my 8 years working in the school system that the best friends I will ever have aren't the same age as me, don't have all the same interests as me, have different family situations that me. What binds us together is our passion for making a difference.

1. Live the things you try to instill in your students-I spent the entire last school year telling my students that no matter what situation they were thrown into that they must control their emotions and how they react to that situation. It took me over half of the year to realize that I said it, but I didn't do it.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

New School and Maybe a New Grade....

My last post, sadly, was April of 2014. As in, over a year ago. My only explanation for this is that I moved 5 hours from home, got a new job at a new school teaching a new grade, struggled through teaching that new grade at that new school, struggled through being far away from home, talked myself out of moving back, bought a new house, moved to a new house, and continued to struggle with the new school. I am still passionate about teaching and what it is to be a teacher, but I lost the fire and motivation for a while. I had nothing left to give to much of anything once 3:30 rolled around every afternoon, BUT....the fire has returned!!

I decided about 2 weeks ago that I was going to change my mindset. I decided that no matter WHERE I was teaching, it was up to me to find the motivation to be my best and be the teacher I always have been. And so began my great planning, note taking, TpT browsing, pinning, list making of Summer 2015!

During this time period I had also gone to 2 job interviews and sent my resume to multiple principals. After the first rejection letter was when I made the decision to change how I was looking at my current situation. NOW, 2 weeks after deciding to go with the flow and embrace all the struggles and be a teacher I could be proud of no matter what, I got the call to offer me a job at a school much closer to my house and very similar to the schools I had worked at for the 7 years before the BIG move.

I have been floating since the moment I found out. I am inspired. I am ready to get in my classroom! I am ready to print! I am ready to laminate! I am ready to put up super cute bulletin boards! WHOA! It is summer break! I have had to rein in my teacher-ness and realize that it is perfectly normal and ok to be excited, but that my summer break needs to be precisely that, a BREAK. Besides GASP! It will most likely be another 2 weeks before I know.

And that is where my joy turns into stomach churning nervousness! 2 weeks ago that would have then been turned into stress, but no more! I am putting my nervous energy into getting back to work on my blog and I am going to keep my fingers crossed I get 4th grade accept this as another challenge and be ready to do my absolute best and do it with true joy and enthusiasm!!!

Friday, April 18, 2014

5 for Friday

Welp, today was the first day of my Easter Break! I must say, I thought yesterday would drag on, but it flew by and I didn't even get to finish all the things I had intended to do. AND I even stayed until after 3:15! That hardly ever happens!!! We had lots of good things happen this week, so it was a nice start to a much needed LONG break!!

Here is the parking lot at was almost empty when I left....I was proud of myself! Hehe!

For the past few weeks we have been raising money for child abuse prevention. We had a change drive in each school in our county and I am super proud of my class. We set a class goal of $77 and we were able to raise $87!!! We also planted our Pinwheels for Prevention garden and it looks beautiful. I hope it can be an inspiration as a symbol against child abuse.

We have been reading poetry for a couple of weeks and that leads me to 2 of my 5 for Friday good things of the week....

First one-poetry readings. So, I saw this video of a teacher having her class do poetry presentations once a week and they would present in front of the class using a microphone. They were really working on how to present or read aloud to a group. I thought this would be great to do with my kids because I have a few students who are really struggling with their fluency. I made a notebook of poems that are on a 1-3 grade reading level. I numbered the poems and put each of them in a page protector. Each week the students can "check out" a poem they would like to read and present. We had already talked about rhythm and rhyme and how poems need to be read. The first time we presented I had a couple students that did really well, but the rest of them either didn't read loudly enough, didn't know the words, or didn't read in a way that made the poem interesting or entertaining. So, this activity really turned into not only a fluency activity, but an activity to focus on presenting. Last week, they did awesome! They were responsible for finding out all the words they didn't know and practicing during their free time. I was very impressed with the improvement!! Also, I had some of my least fluent readers make HUGE improvements on their fluency progress monitoring. I am really glad I started this activity and I plan to continue for the rest of the school year. (The poems are really funny too, so the kids absolutely love them! And it is so cute to see kids giggling to themselves when they read something funny!!)

Second one-poetry writing. After we talked about how to read poetry and had a good feel for the rhythm and rhyme we took on writing our own. It was a big challenge for some of my students. We did do a lot of partner work for this, but they all really enjoyed it and were very engaged in writing their own and helping their classmates. We were inspired by a book I bought at the book fair a couple of years ago. It is a book of poetry about excuses kids come up with about why they didn't bring their homework to school. The book was actually written by a group of elementary schools students, so it motivated them to want to try their hand at being poets. Below are some examples of the homework excuses they came up with.

I could possibly be the least "holiday activity" inspired elementary teacher ever. My mind just doesn't even go there. I don't know why. This past Tuesday I thought to myself, "hmmm, we should probably do an Easter themed activity." Always waiting until the last minute. I came up with something that I really like and my students LOVED it. I am going to be putting the activity on TpT once I manage to get my life together and give a cute name and all that. Here is what I came up with....

I got some Easter eggs and on each egg I wrote a letter of the alphabet. There were multiples of most letters (similar to scrabble) just to make it easier with all the students to find the letters they needed. I came up with a "secret message" for each student. For each letter in the message there was a corresponding number. Inside each egg was an equation that was equal to the corresponding number under the blank letter spaces. For example, the egg with an "A" on it may have an equation inside that said 5+6. On their paper would be a blank and under it would say __+__=11. They would open the egg, solve the equation, find the matching answer, and then write the letter of the egg in that blank. Then they would just put the equation back in the egg, put the egg back where they found it, and go on to another egg to see if it had a matching answer on their paper.


I mentioned in an earlier post that I am moving at the end of the school year. A lot of my time is being spent on house hunt, moving details, and most importantly JOB SEARCHING! I have been checking the county's school district website at least 58 times a day. I really love my 2nd grade job and will be a little sad to move grade levels, but I also think a change of scenery would be nice. I wouldn't mind the opportunity to learn another grade level's curriculum. I am certified in certain areas of middle school as well and have been applying for those jobs. I just keep thinking that if I do get a middle school job I am really going to miss all the amazing elementary school blogs I read! :-( I hope there are middle school blogs that inspire me like you guys do!

Friday, April 11, 2014

5 for Friday

So, for indoor recess (which we were having quite a bit of there for a while) my students have really taken to doing kid's dance videos. I didn't know how it would go the first time I told them what we were going to do, but they LOVED it! AND I must say, it brings me pure joy to watch a group of 7 and 8 year old's dance their hearts out! It is hilarious and they all just look so happy doing it! HEHE! This week, we came across a "What Does The Fox Say?" dance video. HILARIOUS!!! They begged for it and then they knew ALL the words to the song. This song has become too popular. I believe it was the lovely Ellen Degeneres who introduced us. Can that woman make anything have world fame? Anyway, here it is if you want to try it out with your students.

In math this week we are working on Bar Graphs and Line Plots. I love graphing! I find teaching graphing to be ok..... Anyway, we did a bar graph with Smarties candy this week and they really enjoyed it. Who doesn't enjoy an activity where you get to consume candy afterwards? The graphs themselves are so fun and kids catch on, but what I struggle with every year is this graphing question...HOW MANY MORE...??? If anyone has suggestions about how to teach the "How many more green smarties are there than yellow smarties?" I am open to suggestions. They always just want to tell me the higher number. And of course, this issue carries through to story problems...HELP!

I don't know if it is like this in other states, but in North Carolina they have switched cursive handwriting to the 2nd grade curriculum. Last year, I must say, I did not do a good job of teaching it. This year we have been ON IT!! The kids are doing awesome! I am impressed by how well they are doing and how excited they are about this. I will list the 2 resources I have been using below. I teach them 2 letters a week from each group of letters and when we finish with each type of letter I do a review of those. We are almost done with all of the lower case letters. I am going to send home a cursive review to do over Easter Break and then we will knock out the upper case letters once they return.

Cursive Letters grouped by shape 
I use this to teach each letter initially.

Cursive Review
This is a packet I purchased on TpT. Last year I used it as my primary teaching tool, but this year I have used it for review and I have really liked it. It gives the students a chance to grade themselves and edit their own work by using the checklist on each page.

SOMETHING THAT REMINDS ME WHY I DO THIS JOB!!!-I have a darling little girl in my room who really struggles. She has some learning issues and it is a challenge for both of us everyday. She came to me in 2nd grade reading on a Kinder level(barely) and having a fluency rate of 29 wpm. (If you don't know, by the end of 2nd grade this should be yeah....that is a huge difference.) After lots and lots and LOTS of hard work and determination there have been HUGE improvements. I just want to brag and say that she read a 2ND GRADE LEVEL (woohoo!) passage to me this week and got 53 wpm AND 90% accuracy!!!!! The BEST thing, however, is that she is PROUD of herself and is starting to believe that she is good at reading. She even set a reading goal for herself!!!!!! I am going to say that this is probably in my top 5 things that has happened this school year.

And something fun this week-Our AR celebrations! We had a big dance party for our yearly AR celebration. Everyone in the school got to go and there were snacks and drinks to celebrate our LOVE of reading and how much we've grown throughout the year!! And I had to bring a little something extra for my students who met last 9 week's AR goal. They got to have a little extra recess Friday afternoon and some ICE CREAM!!! Most of my students really just love reading and I could have probably saved myself the money from the ice cream, but lets be serious....who wouldn't like a tasty treat on a beautiful Friday afternoon? (So, maybe I just wanted a reason to eat ice cream....)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

2nd Grade Math Common Core

I have really been working on my approach to teaching math and how to go about meeting all the CCSS. I wanted to share some things that I have run across over the past couple of months and something I just purchased from TpT that is just what I have been looking for!

Common Core Math Assessments for Grade 2 - All Standards Included
This has pre and post tests and some great spreadsheets to record scores for each standard.

I found the major work of 2nd grade link helpful as well as the vocabulary. There is other good stuff here too. 

I have had trouble getting organized with CC math and deciding in what order I want and need to teach standards. My district doesn't have a particular text book or curriculum that we are required to use ALL the time. We have something that we pull from as our main resource, but it doesn't put things in an order that was working for me. The 2nd half of the year I finally feel like things are falling into place a bit better. As always, these things are a work in progress and continue to change based on student needs, schedule, etc. 

I hope that someone else can benefit from this and if any of you have suggestions, documents, sites, etc that would go along with this please feel free to leave a comment about what has helped you hit all the standards and (attempt) to have ALL (wishful thinking?) your students master them!

I am not MIA

I have missed you, blog. Life just happens and I have yet to figure out my balance and fitting in my therapeutic blogging time! Tyler and I are planning a move across the state (to Wilmington, NC) in 3 months and my focus has been on house and job hunting (wish me luck!). Also, grad school is just a bit time consuming....So, with that and life in general...I have been a slacker.

Is anyone else tired of the winter weather? We have missed soooo many days and had so many delays that I feel like I will never get caught up. Are any of you having to make up days during your Easter break or at the end of the year? Our School Board is going to be discussing adding time at the end of the day to make up our missed time. We haven't ever had this option before and I am hoping that is what they choose! I don't want to lose my Easter Break (BooHoo!!).

Friday, February 7, 2014

5 for Friday

Doodle Bugs Teaching Five for Friday

My class won an award!!!
I didn't know that there was such a thing as an AR Model Classroom, but there is! A lady from our school district came in my classroom on Monday and said "Your class is a model AR classroom!" So, I am bragging on my students' hard work in reading! This is the picture our Media Coordinator took for the school website. Also, we were 1 of only 7 classrooms in the WHOLE district who won this and met the criteria for the award! (And...I just realized that 3 of my students were out of the classroom for pull outs when we took the picture. Boo!!)

Science Center Came to School!

Another thing the LOVED this week. After much talking over each other to tell me about what all they did one of my students said, "Can we write about this?" My answer..."ABSOLUTELY!" (And was going to bring them home to read and forgot.)


Lightened it up just a bit-preparing for SUMMER...yes, already. Hoping I will be brave enough next time to do something like this...

Not quite as light, but LOVE the cut! 

Tens and Ones "Scavenger Hunt"
 Here are the clue cards they had to look for. There were 10 sets of 2 cards that went together.
 This is the recording sheet. They had to write down the tens and ones from each characters' card in their section. Then they came up with a story problem using the tens and ones. Last, they had to write an equation to represent the problem.
Searching for cards to record
 Coming up with story problems

Finished product

It took a little longer than I thought it would, but they reallyreallyreally liked this activity.

"I Have, Who Has..." Tens and Ones (Can you tell what we were working on this week?)
Just a little sample of what I have been working on. We are going to do this Monday (we were supposed to do this today, but got behind this week...). There were several of these on TpT, but I really needed one to go along with our math curriculum.

UPDATE(Here is the link to this):
I have, Who has...Tens and Ones Freebie

And that is pretty much how the week went!