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.

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