Dare to Care

create, communicate, collaborate, and think critically

18/Apr/2017
by Denise Krebs
5 Comments

Standards and Assessment

Standards and Assessment – A few random thoughts for this week’s #edublogsclub prompt.

I’ve taught with and without standards, but I prefer and believe we need standards-based education.

I also believe we need standards-based grading. We should be able to look at the standard and using descriptive narration tell how the student is and isn’t meeting the standard. It seems simple to me. However, I spend so much of my precious preparation time grading and recording numbers around learning. Sometimes numbers make sense, like recording how many sight words this child can read. More often than not, though, numbers don’t give any added information. For instance, in the following standards, how can a number help us know what the child can do?

Pose and respond to specific questions by making comments that contribute to the discussion and elaborate on the remarks of others.

Recognize and correct inappropriate shifts in verb tense.

Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.

I think a number does not show growth. Numbers tend to stop conversation. The student and parent are either happy or unhappy with the number, but not much else is discussed except the number.

Tomorrow we will have Student Learning Presentations, where parents, teacher and student come together and report learning. It’s a beautiful thought, but I know from experience, the numbers will trip us up at times.

This year one of the goals of our School Improvement Plan is “All students at Al Raja School in grades KG-5 will improve reading and writing in English.” We have chosen to measure our success on this goal using the fall and spring scores on our computerized standardized test: Measures of Academic Progress (MAP).

Last year we had only 26% of that age group make annual yearly progress. This year at the winter midpoint, I’ve just stopped to look at the data I had so far. This winter, we had 46% meet or exceed their progress goals.

So, there is an assessment that helps us see if we are growing. I’m pleased with the progress so far, but not satisfied, of course. We have work to do.

Fortunately for us, we aren’t driven by tests. We are new to standardized tests. It’s only our second year taking the MAP. We look at the data, and try to let it help us get to know, teach, and help our students, but it’s not the only measure.

I still hope we can eliminate grades and use paper and digital work, photos, video, stories and other evidence of the students’ learning to report about their learning.

I guess I feel the way we take the MAP test can help in that reporting, as well.

What do you think?

12/Apr/2017
by Denise Krebs
6 Comments

The Pendulum Swing – Or maybe just finding a better way

When I started teaching in the 1980’s, I was given a stack of books to teach, and that was what I taught–science, social studies, reading, grammar, whatever the school board or admin or committee chose for the books, that was our curriculum. I did it for five years in grades 2 and 3, in a public school and a private school, in two separate states. There was no such thing as curriculum, just the books we were given to teach.

Then, I became a stay at home mom for ten years during the 90s. During those years, the pendulum swung toward standards-based education, or what they called in those years Outcome Based Education. I wasn’t paying that much attention, but I did read a few articles because I was surprised my conservative friends seemed so against it. It made sense to me that we should ask what students should know and be able to do. Then figure out how to get them there. Education was obviously a more complicated idea than just covering a stack of books.

Now, “I wasn’t paying that much attention” was the truth because when I went back to teaching in 1999, I took my stack of books and carried on as I had years before. I was in Arizona at the time, and fortunately, I had a great instructional coach. One of the first times she came to see me, I was proudly finishing touches on a gigantic dinosaur mural. It had 3-D mountains and trees and a volcano flowing with lava. My students and I had made it. Grade 2 artist dinosaurs populated the prehistoric landscape.

She asked me why we were doing dinosaurs. I said it was a chapter in our science book, and I let the students vote on which chapter they wanted to do first. She then opened the Arizona State Standards for grade 2 science. She showed me how there were no dinosaurs in second grade science.

“What? How can we not do dinosaurs?” I thought or said. I don’t quite remember which one. I was in tears before she left, but that experience left an indelible mark on me. It began my journey to understand standards-based education.

I went on to teach grades 2, 7, 8 and work as a reading specialist, using the Common Core State Standards for most of those years.

When I moved to Bahrain, I found the pendulum hadn’t really swung. I am in a school with American curriculum–that is American books. We are kind of in the 1980s mode of teaching from books.

We have some good benchmarks for the KG-grade 2 department, so it was easier to not rely totally on the books. When I moved to grade 5 this year, I realized that our curriculum is focused on the textbooks. We have lessons on interrogative, declarative, imperative and exclamatory sentences, not because our English language learners need to know that terminology. They don’t. We have those lessons because Houghton-Mifflin put them in our books.

As the English coordinator this year, and the ‘owner’ of the school improvement plan goal to “improve reading and writing in English grades KG-5,” I have an important reason to help the department swing toward a better place with appropriate standards-based curriculum.

We have made a lot of progress, and I look forward to seeing a curriculum in place that is appropriate for our students to learn.


It’s Tuesday. Time for a Slice of Life post.

This is late, but I was interested in the topic from Week #13 in the #edublogsclub about pendulum swings in education.

04/Apr/2017
by Denise Krebs
8 Comments

Tipi and Slice of Life Tuesday – No Grades

Today, to be honest, I should not be blogging. I should be finishing my grades for quarter 3, which are due any day now. (Like tomorrow, but I am having a hard time admitting that!)

After a month of blogging daily in March, I am relieved and excited to join the only-once-a-week Tuesday Slice of Life Story Challenge. I’m looking forward to spending a bit of time on Tuesdays with my new Slice of Life writing tribe, for I know they will help me kickstart my neglected blogging habit. Thank God no one grades me on my blog posts. Instead, encouragement from this group helps me practice and learn, so I can grow as a writer.

On a loosely related topic, at school today my small group built.

This quarter, each teacher was assigned eight students for group work, and with them we were to choose and study a tribe of people from anywhere in the world. We chose the Nez Perce in North America because our supervisor is from the Nez Perce tribe. She has lots of amazing relics, so we were able to learn from her and see first hand some of the valuable art and artifacts from this group of Native American people.

Today my group built a tipi.

It was great, and it was better than thinking about blogging.

It was most certainly better than thinking about and / or recording and finishing grades.

It was exciting.

It was real.

It was math.

It was problem solving.

It was critical thinking.

It was dangerous.

It was kinesthetic.

It was making.

It wasn’t a number on a report card, and it never will be.

It’s like life. We do things, like blogging and baking, but we don’t get graded on them. My students would be shocked and appalled if I tried to assign them a grade for their work on the tipi. It just would be a distraction and a disappointment, no matter what grades were “given” or “earned.”

It’s not that we didn’t do our best. As in life, there are always consequences for what we do. Did we do a good job? Did we figure out what we have to do to make it easier and better next time?

If we didn’t, our next attempt may result in the same mistakes. If we did really learn something from today’s activity, then we’ll be even more successful when we build it again for our presentation.

Can’t we do more authentic activities?

Can’t we do real-life work that doesn’t require grades?

 

Filling the frame with a tipi today. #cy365 #t365project

A post shared by Denise Krebs (@mrsdkrebs) on

More tipi building.

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31/Mar/2017
by Denise Krebs
9 Comments

Currently – A Slice of Life List

Looking Around My Home

  1. Piles of work, unfinished and begging for attention.
  2. White walls
  3. A painting my daughter made in high school. I love it. (It’s also the header on this blog.)

My daughter’s painting on one of my white walls.

Looking Out My Window

  1. The 24-Hours Market
  2. Dust
  3. Minarets

Found: a few balloons on a rainy day. #cy365 #t365project

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Looking Around My Classroom

  1. Furniture that at the beginning of the year brought great hope for a classroom full of alternative seating, but now I’m ready for it to go away
  2. I wonder if it is a place for learners to learn English?
  3. I can no longer find a pencil.

As I Ponder…

  1. I’m saddened about the fighting in U.S. politics
  2. I find it hard to keep my eyes off news shows
  3. I still have hope.

What I’m Learning

  1. How to personalize learning for my students

What I’m Creating

  1. A Breakout EDU game
  2. Lots of writing on my blog
  3. Keeping my class blog organized

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I’m Reading

  1. Bible stories
  2. Queen Bee
  3. The Story of Waheed

What I’m Watching

  1. News
  2. Politics
  3. Children playing

What I’m Hearing

    1. “The Gummy Bear Song”

What’s on My Camera

  1. Lots of pictures of Grade 5 events and learning
  2. Photos for my Capture Your 365 challenge

What I’m Drinking

  1. Mango tea
  2. Skim milk
  3. Water

What’s Happening in the Kitchen?

  1. Roasted chicken
  2. Bran muffins
  3. Roasted cauliflower

A Quote I Want to Share

My 6-word memoir to share with you today.

30/Mar/2017
by Denise Krebs
7 Comments

Grateful Slicer, Day 30

I am a grateful slicer, a new slicer in 2017.

Thanks to all those who have read my posts this month and left kind, helpful and quality comments.

A special thanks to my regular visitors, Aileen Hower and Erika Victor. You have each been a cheerleader to keep me writing on this journey! It seems I could always look forward to your helpful and encouraging responses. When I didn’t feel like writing, or thought I had nothing to say, I somehow knew you would notice. Thank you!

Although, I didn’t make the full challenge, I did manage to post each day. I forgot to add my link to the SOL website a couple times, and I had a week of little to no commenting! All in all, it’s been a great adventure, and I look forward to keeping up my writing with the weekly Slice of Life Tuesday challenge.

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