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Friday, March 28, 2014

Five for Friday.... March 28

Hey look!It's Friday! In some ways this first week back after Spring Break went quickly. But in some ways it was the longest, slowest week ever! Five for Friday... my favorite linky! Head over to Doodlebugs to find out why! Five random things from my week.
1. First grade read about strawberries this week. I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did.

Writing about why we like strawberries. The questions was do you like strawberries, yes
or no? We didn't have anyone that answered no. 
"I like strawberries because they are juicy."
"I like strawberries because they are good. they are juicy. I like them." 

"I like strawberries because they are good on ice cream."
"I like strawberries because they are jousy."

2. After Spring Break it was necessary to go over what I expect from my Second Grade group. Then we dove in to a small project about deer. They read a realistic fiction book about deer and then sorted what could really happen and what could not. I have to say, maybe deer can dance, but I still made them put it in the "couldn't really happen" category. 

Realistic fiction but filled with lots of facts! 

3. Third grade started a huge project this week. They are working on a wax museum. They are researching someone and have to research how this person changed the world for the better. One of the students had this eraser. It just hit me as hilarious. Gotta love it. 

4. Okay, I had to throw this in. The other night I wouldn't let the cat climb on my lap. He was not happy. This was his response. It cracks me up when he sits close to me with his back to me just to make sure that I know he is mad. 

5. Mom and Punky night. We went all out. A movie from redbox, and supper: popcorn, brownies, PEEPS, more junk food (sweet tart jelly beans), and ice cream (lots and lots of ice cream). Healthy I know. We pigged out, then took turns doing each other's hair, and then snuggling on the couch til the end of the movie. 

My Punky-girl and I.
I forgot to mention the sandwich. I thought we should have it
to "balance" things out.

Yay, brownies. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Five for Friday, Rockin' it Spring Break Style!

It is Friday and I am having a wonderful Spring break style Five for Friday. Five for Friday is a weekly linky party where you post five random things from your week or your day and link up with Doodlebugs. Head over and read up!

1. Best friend time. My bff since.... oh, say... Kindergarten, came to visit. We had a blast together. She and I both took on new careers in our 40's and have much to share with each other. We also have that best friend thing where we know each other all the way through and still manage to love/like each other. It is nothing short of amazing.

Here we are in my daughter's bakery in Wichita. If you are gluten intolerant (or not) and
are in the Wichita, KS area, check out bakery! 

2. Job interview! I had an interview on Wednesday. I once again "flunked" the question about formative assessments. I cried about it HERE. Seriously though, we all know interviewing is hard.  I find it difficult to put into words ways that I assess formatively, especially when interviewing for multiple grade level positions. Formative assessments are going to look different at the Fourth Grade level than they will at the Kindergarten level. But really I am just asking for your input. What do you do for formative assessments and what grade level is that for? I could use help defining what I do and adding more options to the tool belt! Thanks!
Look here for this rubric.

Obviously this is not for formative assessment. This is the writing rubric I found on a free download! It is wonderful. Below it are the definitions I wrote for myself so I would maintain consistency. I know rubrics and 6 trait writing are ways to formally assess. I just want to identify more ways to assess as the lesson unfolds. * I did not design the rubric, and I cannot link you directly to it, but it was made and posted on  I can in no way take credit for the rubric. *

3. My baby headed off to Nashville, TN, on Sunday morning in cold and snow. Yes, there were actually snow flurries as she boarded the bus.  She went with the McPherson Arts Council Children's Choir and they sang and took in the sights and even had a choreography workshop. She gets home tonight.

4. My other baby had senior pictures taken yesterday. Where has the time gone?! Here is the preview picture that he sent me! Tim Stewart photography in Lindsborg, KS. I know you were asking. 

5. Last day of the break. I know, I know, we still have the weekend. But my baby comes home tonight and I will be soaking her up! I miss her so much! Today I am having lunch with a friend and organizing some things in my home. I also hope to attack my gardens, they are full of leaves and dead stuff and the crocus and new life are trying to poke through.  I hope to plant some morning glories today. I have tons of seeds on the porch as well as I bought some different colors. 

Morning Glory seeds that fell off the vines and are still on the porch.

If you look carefully near the front edging you can see a crocus poking through the brown and dried up old stuff.

Thursday, March 20, 2014


How to describe assessments? This is the second time (okay, or maybe more) that I have "flunked" this question in an interview. What does a formative assessment look like in my class? Um.... Let me just tell you a secret people. I NEED a job. It is just about impossible to explain how I will use formative assessments when I am not in the classroom using them. And it is about impossible for me to tell you what I will use for Kindergarten and Fourth grade as well. Oh my. The given answer about formative assessments: question. I use a lot of questioning techniques. I think conferencing with students is essential. That is why it is important to set students onto learning quests and journeys or whatever you want to call it. It is important that they have independent learning time in order to allow me to have one on one time with each student. What do you think? I did this some in Kindergarten last year for writing. We conferenced on Mondays. I did it in Second grade with guided reading projects and loved the way it worked for them. So I think that conferencing with students is a good way to do formative assessments. I think questioning techniques would be a good way. Written summaries are somewhat good. I think that written summaries are good if either your students have been trained previously to organize information or you have taken time to teach them. My Fourth grade guided reading groups cannot give me written information very well. I realized I have to teach them what I want. It's a little painful in the process, but it will be so worth it. They are going to soar this last semester. Rubrics are a huge part of assessment in my opinion, but that is formal, not formative. So.... how do I explain how I learn what I need to know on the fly, in the middle of the lesson, so that I know if what I am teaching is working. I know that I must do this because if what I am teaching isn't working, I have to change it, as soon as possible, and not after I have taught an entire lesson. So what assessments do I use? How do I check in with students? I feel foggy, because I know I do it. Not to brag, but.... (do you feel a brag coming on?), I am the most reflective teacher I know. I analyze and over analyze what is working and what's not working almost constantly. So first of all, why does it leave me in interviews and secondly, how do I put what I do into words?

What formative assessments do you use? What works best? What works for early primary? What works for intermediate? Tell me what you do. I feel the need to gather information. I feel the need to hear from others and say... "oh, yeah, I do that..." or "oh, I have never tried that," or "I don't do that but I do this...." I need my mind to be stimulated in the area of assessment. Help! Please!

Here is the writing rubric we adopted in my Kindergarten class last year. I downloaded it for free from I wrote my own definitions. I think rubrics and teaching 6 trait writing are some of the best ways to assess in a more formal way.
This is the rubric. I loved it. Students can measure their own progress and improve.

These are the definitions I wrote so I would maintain consistency. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Five Random Things....

Five for Friday.... hooray! My favorite linky. Five for Friday is when I get to post five random things from this week. This lovely linky is hosted by Doodlebugs, so hop on over and read awhile. Here it is....

1. My daughter's class had fraction Wednesday this week. I think they had Fraction Friday only on Wednesday because the students (well, pre-K through 8th grade anyway) started Spring Break on Thursday. We used our Mom and daughter time to decorate shirts this week. I made a St. Patrick's Day shirt and she made a Fraction Wednesday shirt. I do not know where I will wear this shirt since we don't have school, but alas, I will be prepared, St. Patrick's Day will come around again next year.

2. First grade guided reading this week.... we read the book I'm a Seed. It is about the life cycle of a seed. And the story is about a marigold and pumpkin plant. We finished our week by planting a marigold and pumpkin seed. We also did a life cycle of a plant cut and paste project. It was out of Plant Life Cycle Pack... by Jennifer Knopf.  (In case you are looking for something like this, this pack is well worth the investment!) We also wrote a prediction about which seed would sprout first, the marigold or the pumpkin.

3. These two Second graders read some Dr. Seuss after finishing their "I am I because I...." projects. They read in funny voices and really dove in to the stories! Probably what cracked me up the most was that they are both a little shy and quiet in the classroom. 

4. Fourth grade this week... We read about Students who made a difference in their community, then we brainstormed ways to make a difference in our community and we wrote about it. Our short week didn't allow much time to develop their stories. But the goal is to get them to think about the moral issues that they can have a hand in solving, how to write about it, and what a well-written paper looks like. 

5. Spring Break! We are officially on break and my girl will soon be Nashville bound. I am excited for her, worried about her, anticipating the break and dreading the time apart. I am so proud of her for being in the choir, bonding with these kids, doing the work to succeed, and overcoming her anxieties and fears. I know she will have a wonderful trip and a great time. Her bags are not completely packed yet, but her toes are ready! We decided we couldn't fit "music city" on her toes, so we just put the Tennessee abbreviation a few times and tried to fill in the last toes with music notes.