My Take on Things

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I wanted to take a moment to reflect on some things…mostly the Writing STAAR from 2016.

Here goes.

First of all, let’s just take a moment of silence to calm ourselves down from reading those words…STAAR 2016.  Yeah. Hang in there!

There were so many things that were out of the ordinary for the test.  Schools receiving the wrong test booklets. Districts receiving their tests in Home Depot boxes.  The company losing…yes LOSING test scores. And some schools receiving DOUBLE scores (which weren’t even the same scores in some cases!) for their students. And there was more…

I think we can all agree it was a mess.

But there’s more…

The 4th grade Writing STAAR was interesting, to say the least.  And the scoring? Ummm…let’s just talk about that for a second.

I had the opportunity to sit down with someone who works for the testing company and helps score writing.  Let’s call this person Bill. Bill told me all about what happened on the scoring end of things. I asked him to write some things down so that we could all have a better grasp of what went down:

  • Ambiguity in grading was the biggest issue. There is no consistent adherence to the rubric.
  • The rubrics ARE consistent and the anchor papers and model texts ARE consistent.
  • Inconsistent are the calibrations, ratings, and what is being taught to pass in schools.
  • My observation has been that ambiguity exists because of the variety of raters across the U.S. (Yes, they are ALL OVER the United States…not just from Texas.)
  • There needs to be direct, clear communication between TEA and the testing company. 
  • The breakdown is the funnel or flow once the information hits the upper echelon of the company.  The trickle down of information exponentially diminishes so that when it hits calibration, training, and rating, there is no reliable, linear, consistency in the rating system.

So…in a nutshell…the communication stinks…all over.  There were lots of graders (from who only knows where…because they put out ads on CRAIGSLIST, for crying out loud) who were extremely inconsistent and didn’t use the rubric.

Let that sink in a minute.

The STAAR graders didn’t even use the rubric…many of them, anyway.  Hmmmm…..

**Take a short break. Once you calm down a bit, continue reading.**

Ok.  So it was a complete mess.  But there are still some things we learned from this craziness.

The prompt threw the kids off.  Totally.  It asked students to choose one reason they liked being in 4th grade and to explain it.  Basically, if a student really didn’t like being in 4th grade, they were already doomed…but that’s for another time.

Anyway…when you think about it, the prompt wasn’t as different as we all thought.  It was just narrower than we had been used to.  STAAR has always asked for students to pick ONE thing and explain it.  In this case, the one thing was 4th grade.  In the past, it was a favorite time of year, what they want to be when they grow up, etc. In essence, the test had already picked their main topic.  What really stumped the kids was that it asked for one REASON.

Fortunately, if students chose to write more than one reason, they didn’t get counted off for it.  In fact, I’ve read papers from my current district that received a score point 8 and had two reasons.  So that’s definitely a plus!

If you really want to focus your students on giving one reason, an easy way to do that is to give a broad reason and then funnel it from there.  For example: I enjoy being in 4th grade because of my teacher. I love 4th grade because I get to go to the science lab.  4th grade is awesome because I get more privileges.

After choosing a reason like this, students can then choose more than one reason that goes with what their “main” reason (the ones above). For example: My teacher is kind. My teacher lets us do fun activities. Or…The science lab looks amazing. I get to do tons of experiments in the science lab. This still allows kids to use multiple reasons that connect to one main reason.

So…it really isn’t all that different from what we’ve had in the past when you look at it this way.  It just required much more thought and skill at developing their reasons if they did it this way.

Does that make you feel better at all?

The cool thing is that YOU can make a difference.  This company is ALWAYS looking for people to help grade essays! If you are interested, just search for “STAAR” on a job search engine and sign up!!  Let’s get more TEACHERS to help with the grading!!

If you’re interested in some things that might help your students with writing or grammar, I have several products (even FREE ONES!!) in my TpT store.  Just click here.

What are your thoughts about it?  I know we would all love to hear!  Leave a comment below!

Here’s to hoping it gets better this year!! 😉

 

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Grammar Posters

Another quick post.  Sorry guys!  I’ve been incredibly busy this year.  I PROMISE to get back to a blogging routine soon!  I have some incredible papers (for the beginning of the year, anyway!  Ha!) to share with you.  I am still waiting for several permission forms to come back so that I can share them with you.

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I just uploaded my newest product to my TpT store.  I created some grammar posters to go along with my Daily Writing Review.  These focus on the rules for apostrophes, commas, quotation marks, and capital letters.

You can grab a set here.

See you soon!

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It’s Time

It’s that time of year again. Our students will be walking into our freshly decorated classrooms tomorrow morning. They will come in wondering about this new person who will take a new place in their hearts, wondering if they will be accepted, wondering how this new year will unfold.

For many students it is a time of nervousness. Nervous about making friends. Nervous about passing “the test.” Nervous about being bullied. Nervous about how their lives will change.

Many of these very issues are fostered by the teacher. Whether or not we realize it, we, the teachers, are the ones who make the biggest difference. By the way we say hello, by the way we give a compliment, by the way we correct a mistake…these can make or break this precious soul who sits in a chair, waiting for acceptance.

What if it was YOUR child? Would you want him to be loved? Would you want him to succeed? Would you want him to belong? I know I would.

So tomorrow as you see the faces streaming through your door, be sure to make them feel that they are a part of something good, a part of the class, and a part of you.

And when you do, you’ve already own half the battle…in just one day.

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Thank You!!

First…I have quite a few new followers.  THANK YOU SO MUCH for taking time to stop by my blog and looking around.  I want you to know that I am here to help in any way that I can.  That’s the whole reason that I started my blog in the first place!  😉

PLEASE don’t hesitate to email me with any questions that you have.  I enjoy talking with you…and learning from you.  I can promise that for every person that communicates with me, I learn something.  Whether it’s a new strategy or how I can better explain myself, I learn SOMETHING.  :)  And that’s what teachers do, right?

If you want to be sure to get updates when I post something new to the blog, be sure to put your email in that little box over there on the right hand side of your screen.

I’m sure you are already aware, but I am also on Facebook and other social media sites.  You can click the buttons over at the top right side of the page to find and follow me there.

Just a heads-up…I’m working on a daily writing review.  When I get it finished up, I’ll be doing a giveaway for one, so stay tuned!  And sometimes I do flash giveaways through my other social media sites…so…  😉

Thanks again for helping me become a better teacher.  I look forward to communicating with you throughout this new school year!

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What Do YOU Want?

Hello, again!  I know, I know…it’s been awhile since I’ve blogged about anything school related.  And you know what?  I’ve enjoyed my hiatus!  😉  I’ve been having fun with the fam and NOT thinking about school.

I’m gearing up to get started on some materials to use next school year…and I need your help!  I want to make some things that will be TRULY useful in the classroom.

Here in Texas we don’t use the CCSS, but our TEKS are pretty much the same, so even if you don’t live in the good ‘ol state of Texas, you can still reap the benefits of products made by us Texas gals!  😉

My BIGGEST project for the summer is a daily writing/grammar review.  I want it to be a warm-up that takes a MAXIMUM of 10 minutes, but really more like 5…

But you know how that goes…some finish in 1 and others can take 10 and still not be done.  I’m going to be working out how to get it simple enough for ALL students to do some quality review in under 10.  Wish me luck!  Ha.

What sorts of things would you like to have to use in your classroom for next year?  I need your input!  Other than a daily review in writing, what ELSE would you go gaga over?

**And…AND…if you suggest it and others comment about the same thing…and it gets made…everyone…EVERYONE involved will get that product for FREE.  Yep…FREEEEEEE!  That’s how much I want you to help out!  I’m all about helping out others who do their part!

Oh yeah…and I’ll be self-contained next year, so ANY subject is appropriate.

So….let’s get this ball rolling.  Comment below on what you would like to have for your classroom next year.

Don’t be scared.  Your wish may just come true…and you get it for free!

AAAAAANNNNNNNND GO!

 

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Weekend Social #3

It’s that time again! Who’s ready for round three of Weekend Social? Don’t forget to follow your host & co-hosts!

If this is your first time, welcome!  This new linky party is a great way to find new awesome people to follow on various social media sites. It’s also neat to link up your own sites and gain new followers. Either way, it’s fun!  😉







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