October Newsletter 2013
Thank you to all of you for your efforts today. Halloween is quite an event here at Sabold, and I think it certainly lived up to the hype. We had a great day. The kids loved it; it was wonderful to see the excitement on the faces of the students. The phrase, "It takes a village" was certainly applicable today. Teachers, parents, community members, students, the band... (the list is endless) all played an important role in making today a success. We strive to create a respectful, diverse, creative, exciting, and reflective culture, and it is ok to have some fun too. There is a direct correlation between our students' success and the connection we make with them. Our kids like coming to school, and we should be proud of that.
Rubrics, Assessments, and Feedback
Recently I had a great conversation with one of our teachers about a writing lesson in her classroom. The lesson was on writing scary sentences. This was a precursor for writing a fictional "scary" writing story. We had a good conversation about how difficult that could be for a child. I often say that even as adults, if I said, "Write a good fiction story. You have 30 minutes. Go," we would have a difficult time. What really makes a good fiction story or a good scary sentence? The more important question is, how are we determining what a good story looks and sounds like? How are we helping students manage the intricacies of the writing process?
Rubrics articulate the expectations for an assignment by listing criteria and describing levels of quality from Advanced to Below Basic. We commonly use rubrics to score and grade student work, but rubrics also serve a more important purpose- an instructional purpose. They teach as well as evaluate. Instructional rubrics can provide the scaffolding that students need to become self-regulated writers. Instructional rubrics guide conversations between teachers and students by identifying strengths and weaknesses in a text and providing teaching points for improvement.
We also discussed the use of exemplars. There is great value in using exemplars in a number of ways. Exemplars create a clear vision for teachers and students. They help facilitate rich discussion identifying what writing should look like in completed tasks. Again the exemplars will help guide discussion and feedback between teachers and students. We need to be clear on our expectations, and exemplars help us do that. Exemplars and rubrics will help keep the feedback more objective, direct and concrete, and less abstract. A great activity would be to provide students with sample writing pieces and exemplars and compare and assess them based on the rubrics.
All of this takes a lot of effort, time, and collaboration; however, the Being a Writer Program provides you with these. In the Assessment Resource Book, there are rubrics, sample writing pieces for the fall, winter and spring, commentary regarding the scoring, and assessments, and suggestions.
Edcamp New Jersey
And you thought I was kidding about edcamps... On Saturday, November 23rd, I am attending an edcamp. I briefly mentioned these during one of our extended day opportunities.
Built on principles of connected and participatory learning, Edcamps strive to bring teachers together to talk about the things that matter most to them: their interests, passions, and questions. Teachers who attend Edcamp can choose to lead sessions on those things that matter, with an expectation that the people in the room will work together to build understanding by sharing their own knowledge and questions. Edcamp is free, personalized professional development.
I can honestly say I am a more improved educator after attending these.
If you are interested in attending or have questions, let me know. You will need tickets to attend for security purposes. Here is a link to the EDCampNJ site: http://edcampnj.org/what-is-edcamp/
Planning for Parent- Teacher Conferences- http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/planning-parent-conferences
Remind 101- An app to send free and safe text alerts to parents- https://www.remind101.com/
Ted- Ed The powerhouse of jaw-dropping lectures needs no introduction. Now, they’re bringing their talent into education with an offshoot, Ted-Ed.
RubiStar- A free quality rubric maker for teachers-
Behavior Support Team
Our BST meetings have started. I want to thank Anthony, Meg, and Susannah for leading this team. You are doing a great job with an innovative, yet sensible approach to behavioral support, data collection, and inteventions. Our students and school will truly benefit from this collaborative approach. Teachers and staff- thank you for your support as we get this up and running. Your support, efforts, and feedback are the driving forces behind making this system successful.