One Sunflower

reflection prep

“You are such a reflective person, I should probably just read your blog and skip reviewing your ILP with you.”

This comment from my principal is the prompt for this blog entry.  It was made in reference to a meeting I have scheduled with him on Monday to review my Individual Learning Plan for the year and reflect on my learning.  I took a quick peek at my blog entries for the past two months.  I’m not sure reading them would offer much insight about what I’ve learned this year.

Since I need to do the reflection work anyway to be ready for my meeting, here’s a blog entry that does summarize what I think I’ve learned this year.  It is easy for me to describe what I think I’ve learned this year but real evidence is harder to point to.

This is the evidence I would bring to a court room of my peers to document what I consider to be my most significant learning this year:
1) My teacher journal of my writing models I did for my students.  I created a “journal” out of a large painter’s tablet I got at Michael’s.  I wanted to make a “yellow book” just like my student’s books.  This year, I was more intentional in how I used assessments of my student’s work and quarterly benchmarks to guide the types of entries I modeled for my students. I spent more time in the fall working with my students to create recognizable figures than I did last year – which leads me to my second piece of evidence.
2) My student’s journals.  I didn’t introduce my journals until the end of September.  By then, every student had watched me draw pictures in my journal for two weeks.  Last year, many of the first entries in my student’s journals were scribbles.  This year, I only had 3 students whose first entries looked more like scribbles than figures.  I try to go through my student’s work on a regular basis, pulling entries as they meet each benchmark.  The benchmarks are new this year.  By March, I had 72% of my kindergarten bound students at 3rd quarter goals.  One of those students is on an IEP for speech,language and cognitive needs, 88% are ESL.  I’m in the middle of my 4th quarter assessments but I’m afraid they are about the same.  I wish I could say that 90% had met standard.  I would have to have 9/11 students doing 4th quarter work! The good news is that of the 5 that are returning to preschool next year, all of them are either at first or second quarter benchmarks right now. (My three most capable learners were my students last year so preschool intervention definitely made an impact.)
3) My daily curriculum plans.  I have to submit these to Head Start administrators and they have to document how I individualized for students and meet Head Start mandates.  Because of our federal review this year,  I’ve tweaked and re-tweaked these plans. I checked in with other colleagues to see the templates they use. I think I’ve finally come up with a template that really reflects the thought I put into my plans and the supports I’m trying to provide for my students.
4) Video recordings of myself conferring with students.  Yup, I did it.  I made tapes of myself working with students.  I even got Maestra to do some of her work. Doing the recordings taught me something about myself as a learner, and using a protocol with my principal to review and debrief the videos provided another layer to the learning experience.
5) Student portfolios. How does a student portfolio provide evidence of my learning? The choices I’ve made about the components of that portfolio are indicative of the work my students are doing in the classroom and what my primary emphasis for that learning has been: each page shows an aspect of oral language, fine motor skills and/or social emotional growth. I also developed two new tools to monitor student progress; one shows student progress on the continuum of written and oral language work, the other describes the students aspects of learning – or engagement.

Weekend homework done!  I know I’ll review the questions my principal sent out to staff in anticipation of the reflection process but I don’t think I’m going to find much more to say.


one foot in front of the other

I’m trying really hard not to write an entry that is a to-do list.  But right now my mind is chock full of things that need to get done in the last 18 days I have with my students.  I know it will all get done, it always does.

When I picked up my student’s “completion” certificates last week, I felt a little sadness realizing the year is ending.  It will be hard to say goodbye to this little group, they’ve been such a charming class.

Don’t get me wrong!  I am ready for vacation, my reading list is growing.  It isn’t enough that I have to-do lists for the end of school, it seems that I’m making lists for summer vacation too.  I really should learn to take my days one at a time.


tell it

He didn’t have to use those words, in fact, he could have accomplished the whole thing with very little talking at all. It could have been like this: “Come here, Collin.  I’ll count to three and then you go.  One, two, three.”

But instead, it sounded like this:
“Drum roll please everyone!” (patting on thighs)
“A hush falls over the crowd.  Collin is stepping to the line, raising his arm and….one, two, three!  Ah, look at it fly over the crowd, hit the wall and drop behind the chairs.
Will they be able to find it?  Yes! And we have a winner in the 2011 paper plane flying contest!”

What a difference story language makes!  In our school of English language learners, and students who mostly hear “command speech,” our principal’s gift for turning every event into a story is a gift.

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