Thursday, March 24, 2011

Positive Points and Parent Talks

I love parent-teacher conferences, especially in second term.  I have so much more to say and so much more stuff to share!  By now, personalities have emerged along with academic strengths and weaknesses.  By now, the class dynamic has settled into productive and manageable relationships and routines. And by this time of the year the students have grown into their own in terms of the projects and such in their portfolios.

When parents/guardians came to visit our classroom today they were greeted with Art displays, Wordles created about different aspects of our curriculum, the Beothuk village, poetry anthologies, Math posters, and a Science project about mass and volume.  I'd like to think that parents of the few students who may be going home saying "nothing" to that proverbial question about their day in school, were left with a clearer impression of what we have been up to lately.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Making the Next Step

Well, we are nearly there!  After much talk, we are going to put it out there that we WANT comments!

To do that I am going to add our class blog to  and see what happens. Of course, as I explained to the kids, we may have to jump in and make the first move by commenting on another class's blog.  No problem!

Apparently another way to get the word out is to use a Twitter account and tweet something like the the following
  grade five class wanting comments #comments4kids.

Then anyone who is also interested in garnering followers for their class and sees that hashtag (that's the # followed by a group of words) will be able to make that connection!   And anyone who knows Twitter, knows that the word spreads by people retweeting that post!

 We should get a class commenting soon!

(Actually having a Twitter account is a terrific way to follow and connect with other like-minded teachers and educators! Or family and friends. Or a multitude of sources of information on any topic imaginable.  So you just might want to do it for yourself.)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Time Constraints and Cups of Tea

The real world of my teaching life has kept me so busy lately and too busy to regularly get back to blogging.  The period of time before report cards go home to parents is filled with such activity; wrap-ups of units, some testing, gathering of work samples for portfolios, student self-assessments, group evaluations, reading logs, applying rubrics for Math journals and so on.

I have been so impressed by the students' engagement in the selection of work for their Language Arts portfolio.  I had them complete a template- "Three Stars and a Wish".  From their Workshop Folders (all independently chosen texts and topics) and their Writing Journals (Demand pieces in which the topic and genre is assigned to whole class) they were asked to choose their best work.

Then they had to indicate what in particular they felt this piece showcased.  It's amazing how they critiqued their own work and were able to say "Look at how I used figurative language here!", "I put more detail here so you can see what I'm talking about" or "I'll bet this opening really caught your attention!"

And the 'Wish'? Well, what piece do they wish they had spent more time on?  What would they have done to move it up?  Here many of them were tougher on themselves than you might think!!

After spending days going through all this material, came the reflection on how and what to say about each of the students in the comment section of the report card- a very small space to try and share all that I have come to know about that child in this second term.  I sat before the computer with my notes and hot cups of tea (that often went cold as I thought and thought) to try and capture the progress, the growth over the term made in so many ways.

The words sound trite, contrived, teacher-talky, incomplete somehow compared to the living, breathing, creative children I am writing about!  I do think some sincerity comes through as does a limited overview of where the children are right now but I am not satisfied with the report card itself at the end of the day.  I can only hope that the time spent examining their child's portfolio (not to mention conversations, calls and notes previously exchanged) will help paint the picture for parents that my words may not.