Sunday, 13 April 2014

Easy Student Assessment Idea and a Week of Poetry!

I often find myself asking "do they understand" or "do I need to teach more"? Of course, tests, quizzes, assignments etc. can give a good indication, but not always. Our curriculum is uber heavy here in Ontario, Canada, leaving many teachers racing against the clock to complete as many expectations as possible. But is that really what we're suppose to do?
There are times when I would like to just toss the curriculum to the side and focus on the basic and fundamental ideas that I believe my students will need in the future. No---- not being able to translate a specific shape or figure every year, but rather add, subtract, multiply and divide without their cell phones or iPods.
This is my job. To teach.... and to teach with the curriculum cloud looming above me. NEVERTHELESS, I will tell you what I have learned in the last 8 years, is that it is SO important for students to also aid in what they learn.
This is where student monitoring comes into play. Here is an idea that I recently learned from my blogging friend Catherine (aka- The Brown Bag Teacher), from Kentucky.
So you ask.....when is it time to move on with a concept and when is it time to teach more and/or practice honing a specific skill?

This is where "Monitoring My Learning" comes into play.

Students create a small grid with the numbers 1-4 on the bottom of their page. At the end of the activity, homework, assignment, quiz, test etc. the students circle the number that represents their confidence with the task/lesson.

For instance, if a student completes math for homework, they circle a number on the bottom of their work (See poster above) -- If a 2 is circled, they are still needing more practice with the concept.

As teachers, we can use this info to monitor each students comfort level with the lessons we teach daily. We can embed extra practice or small group assistance when/if it is needed. We can also challenge the students who can move along and who can also assist others, if needed.

Just a quick and easy idea to check on our kiddos! Thanks, Catherine!

Research-Based Learning Continues...

As I mentioned last week, my students have been working on "how to research" and have been creating Geography Slideshow Presentations (to accompany their research papers), focusing on specifically on natural disasters and phenomenon's. This week, many of the students presented their projects *live*. I was very impressed with their final products!

This project was a step by step approach. First, I modelled "how to research" and what sites were safe to use and what sites were not viable. Using I'm Lovin' Lit's research pack, we learned how to brainstorm using a very simple outline. Students also annotated and identified paragraph structure before selecting their own topic and completing a mini-research paper.

I met with each student individually (across a few days) to discuss, look over, revise and edit their papers. From there, the students used "Google Presentation" to complete a slide show. They took key points from their research paper and were instructed to create a 10-15 slide presentation.

Here were the expectations-- I like to give them a checklist so they can check things off as the complete them and do not use the line "I didn't know we needed to have that". When it is time for them to present, they hand me their checklist (presentation rubric on the back) and I use that to assess and write feedback on.

A few more presentations scheduled for tomorrow :)

Coming up this Week......

On St. Patrick's Day, the students learned about and created limericks (see that post and some freebies for Limericks HERE). They did such a great job and were very focused on the task assigned, that I couldn't wait to begin a more focused look at poetry.
This week we will be learning about poetry devices, as an extension of our lessons on figurative language. I have scooped a free bonus poetry pack from Erin Cobb's interactive notebook series, to use. This week, we are going to delve into devices such as alliteration, onomatopoeia, consonance and assonance. You can grab a few free lessons HERE.

I am also going to being using various poems from Raising Rigor's free "Poetry in your Pocket" pack,
which contains numerous poems to read and refer to.  Pick it up HERE.

For younger students, check out our Primary Poetry Pack HERE.

This 81 page poetry bundle has everything you need to teach your students 8 different styles of poetry writing, as well as poetry response sheets and a poetry contest pack. This bundle can be made into centers or used as lessons as a whole class.
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In math, we continue to work on order of operations and algebraic expressions. We are going to continue expanding our knowledge with equations and proving our work.

My students have been taught various strategies on how to write algebraic expressions as words and also how to convert words to numbers/expressions. They have been taught how to use variables and how to guess and check to solve for variables. Here is a quick and easy way to check their thinking and how you can use an "open" math problem in your room.

Give the students a number (as the answer-- =6 / or the variables number y=6). Have each student write an equation on a sticky note. A great way to see how we all view numbers differently. Also a great "Exit Board" idea (I.e. each student must hand in a card with an equation written on it before they get ready for recess).

This idea could be used with any grade :)

I am really pushing myself this year.... Learning as much as I can and trying out new ideas! 
Try something new this week :)

And remember....

Have a fabulous week!



  1. Fantastic post! I love poetry unit. Great job ladies, so inspiring =D