February has been far from a “quiet” teaching month in my 5th grade. All the average planning has been interrupted, one after another, with special tasks: Planning itineraries and menus and walking groups and field notebooks for March’s overnight field trip to St. Augustine… Planning, coaching and hosting the Lower School Spelling Bee… A day away from school to attend the Daughters of the American Revolution essay contest awards ceremony and luncheon… Time out to attend the 2nd grade play, to celebrate our Valentine’s Day party and a day off for Presidents’ Day…
They’re great distractions. Two of my boys placed 1st and 3rd in the Spelling Bee. In the exciting final rounds, my student was up against his 4th grade brother, the 2 of them cheering each other on in a fabulous finish for 1st and 2nd! In the DAR essay contest, girls from my Social Studies classes won 1st, 2nd and 3rd for 5th grade, and our school took 12 of the 16 awards, overall!
But, next thing you know, the month is nearly gone.
As we continually adjust our schedules to fit in these events in lower school, my big focus has been on writing and rewriting my lessons and their formative and summative assessments. Each week, I come across such fabulous resources through the organizations and individual educators I follow online, and I share some of the best links I came across, below, as the second installment of Friday Links for Educators. Enjoy reading!
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This piece is partially directed at educators responsible for purchasing assessment tools, but struck me as a great series of questions to consider in everyday assessments — whether tweaking last year’s assessments for a coming unit, writing new assessments or modifying assessments for differentiating learning.
Principal Ben Johnson’s November interview with Grant Wiggins on Edutopia is a powerful discussion on the value of putting assessment at the center of planning rather than as “an afterthought.” I was glad to read this, as I was just looking into a workshop with Wiggins and Tighe (his co-author).
This isn’t a single article but a whole site I’ve just come across and really love. Newsela is a fabulous opportunity to help students build literacy skills with some of the most stimulated reading: daily news articles appropriate for differing reading levels. It’s an empowering opportunity to allow students to select an article that interests them, while sparking their interest in reading through real world events.
I actually happen to get great advice at the school where I teach, so can’t say I entirely support this title, but I like this piece for teacher, Terry Heick’s, insistence on preserving passion above cowed compliance. While her title sounds defiant, her strategies are clearly about being at the top of your game, using researched practices, well-planned and demonstrated lessons. In this sense, her advice is about keeping out ahead of the curve of administrative feedback. I’m all for “Olympic level” teaching.
Don’t skip reading this powerful essay by Sarah Blaine. The link above takes you to where it has been shared on the Washington Post Answer Sheet column, but it originally appeared on Sarah Blaine’s blog, Parenting the Core. Blaine was once a classroom teacher, then a parent, and left teaching for law school. This essay is a powerful tribute to all teachers do, beyond what nonteachers might imagine. It’s one of my favorite recent reads.
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What About You?
How has your teaching week been, or what great reads have you found? Feel free to share your thoughts on today’s links in the comments, or share great links you’ve found, including to posts on your own blog.
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