Top 6 Things I Learned From the SBAC Field Test

“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.” Louisa May Alcott, Little Women Last year we began the year at my school teaching the Washington State Standards. Then, in late fall, we received word that our district would be part of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) field test. At that point, we dropped the WA EALRs and switched to Common Core State Standards. It was not easy. We didn’t have CCSS aligned materials, we had to search them out and create our … [Read more...]

TPEP: Not as Ambiguous as the Blue and Black Dress

As I opened the door yesterday morning at 8:45 and welcomed my little angels in, I heard the conversation that I was dreading most: “It’s blue and black for sure!” “Are you crazy? It’s white and gold, didn’t you see it?” “Mrs. Perry, what do you think it is??” “What are you guys talking about?” (Says the kid who doesn’t have Facebook) Do you know what I’m referring to? Social media (and I mean ALL of social media) has been taken by storm the last couple days over some sort of … [Read more...]

Let ‘em Tweet

I did it, I let them tweet, right there in front of me, in the middle of class they pulled out their phones and they opened up Twitter.   This uncharacteristic turn of events came to me last week as I was standing in the doorway of my classroom thinking about my plan for an article I had on globalization. I really wanted my students to get a clear handle on globalization and the complex  history that has led us to the new era of  interconnectedness.  I knew I needed a good strategy for … [Read more...]

“What is This STEM? And When are We Going to Start Doing It?” (1)

TQATA: The Question and the Answer Sometimes in education I get the feeling that we have a love affair with acronyms. I know we are not alone in this among organizations, but ours seems especially unique. Perhaps acronyms make us feel like we know what we’re doing in the science of teaching which happens to be equal part art… masking the gray area helps to mask the inner insecurity that each teacher has as the only adult in the room. Whatever the reason, STEM is fast becoming the better known … [Read more...]

The Power of PLCs

Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is one of my ‘4 Cs’ essential for effective instruction. In order to have academic success under the guidance of the Common Core, you need: The CCSS themselves  Creativity  Commitment  Collaboration I strongly believe that you won’t find a teacher doing great things in the classroom in regards to student learning that does not have instruction focused on these 4 pillars. Obviously to be successful with CCSS, a teacher needs to understand what the standards … [Read more...]

My SBAC Emotional Timeline

I still remember the first time I ever heard of the Common Core State Standards.  Picture a district workshop, peppy presenters, earnest PowerPoint slides.  One showed the standards arranged like stair steps.  Another was a bookshelf with reading literature standards one and ten depicted as really big books on either end.  My teaching team listened attentively.                 Verdict of the teaching team: Okay.  Standards … [Read more...]

The Common Core Canoe, Part 1

In 1869 John Wesley Powell led a bunch of guys in canoes on an expedition to explore the untamed and unmapped Colorado River. In 2015, Tom White is about to lead a bunch of fourth graders in one canoe on a quest to prove that the Common Core can inspire fun and creativity in the classroom. Okay, so there’s no real comparison. My job’s way harder. Here’s what we’re doing. We’re building a plywood canoe in our classroom. Along the way, the kids will each make a one-tenth scale model using … [Read more...]

I survived my TPEP mid-year Review

It’s that time of year! Not only to educators have an opportunity to start the year afresh every September, we now have the chance to reflect on our practice mid-year. We review our TPEP student growth goals and our progress towards our teaching practices. You may have read how I survived my TPEP formal observation. Now you can read how I survived my goal reflection and mid-year review. 1. Find a Team Because I am a reading specialist and Instructional Coach, I needed to find a team to … [Read more...]

Getting Ready for SBA

In less than 2 months (one if you count the off-grade SBA options), my school will embark on SBA testing. And, I’m a little on edge and curious about what it will look like, how it will affect classrooms, and who will be making decisions. Perhaps, I’m more heightened on this issue because I’ve sat in a “do not disturb” office with one admin for at least 5 separate hour-long sessions. And, those conversations are just about “when will each student be in a room for Test X?” and “is it better to … [Read more...]

Keeping LITerature in 21st Century LITeracy…

While working at a meeting the other day, discussing what literacy “looks like,” these questions were posed to me: “Why do we need literature anymore? How is it even relevant? What is the point of students still reading Shakespeare?” These are not new questions, and I’m sure it won’t be the last time someone asks them of me or any other English teacher. Often people ask these things rhetorically, to get a rise or to watch me cringe and struggle to give a justification that doesn't sound like … [Read more...]