Teachers Throwing Out Grades

Have you heard about Teachers Throwing Out Grades?  It is a grass roots movement by wonderful folks, Mark Barnes and Starr Sackstein.  These are definitely two folks you want to follow.  They are forward thinkers and ask the question, “Why do we give grades to our students and what does it mean to get an 89?”  It is really changing a mindset of assessment, not standardize testing, but how we give grades on a report card. Really, for me to do it justice, you have to visit Mark’s page.   There is a VERY active facebook page that you can access here.  When we start to discuss and redesign report cards, which we will in the near future (don’t ask when, I don’t have the answer) check out some of the thoughts within this group.  A twitter chat also happens on Mondays at 7:00p.m. using the hashtag #TTOG.  You can always lurk!!  Here is Mark at TEDx explaining his formula for Assessment 3.0.  Food for thought!  Enjoy the week!


Other News

  • Bus Duty for March 9-March 20 Team 3:  Erin Gates, Beth Siebels, Gina Taylor, Pat Williams  Upcoming Bus Duty: March 23- April 10:  Team 4:  Steph Plaisted, Brooke Crump, Kim Johnson
  • Please check out the email I sent regarding dismissal.  Thanks!
  • All activities for the March 13th half day are on MLP.  Please sign up prior to midnight March 13th!
  • Our next staff meeting is March 26th.  Right before spring break!
  • Fire Inspection on March 27th:  Some of the violations the fire inspector will be looking for would be blocked emerg. windows, extension cords being used instead of power strips or extension cords plugged into power strips, coffee pots, hot plates or toasters in classrooms, items piled on top of cupboards too close to ceiling, missing electrical cover & switch plates, covered classroom door windows, missing fire retardant tags on furniture, door wedges,  paper on the walls close to entry & exit doors.  Please survey your room and fix any violations you can or contact Marty if you have any problems.
  • We will do another Boogie Friday on March 27th for your planning purposes.
  • Below are the dates for state exams.  I will get a revised schedule out for at least ELA and Math soon.  Thanks all!
  • My friend Lisa Meade and I posted a blog we wrote together called “A Seat at the Table”    Please check it out!
  • My good friend Tony Sinanis wrote “41 Things I Know About Education”  A GREAT read!
  • I will be starting up walk through evaluations again to get folks in the 3-5 grade levels completed prior to April NYS testing, and then hit lower levels and then DONE, and get ready for domain 4 and end of year meetings.
  • Speaking of NYS Testing.  April is the BIG month.  Here are dates for NYS tests:
    • ELA April 14, 15, 16
    • Math April 22, 3, 24
    • 4th Grade Science Performance May 21 Written: June 1
  • What are the five things you are grateful for?  Make a list daily.  It does wonders!
  • Be the change agent for kids!  Be a champion for kids.  Every kid deserves a champion!   Just do right!

Other Items of Interest (Read at your leisure!)

(From March 4, 2015 ASCD SmartBrief)

Study reveals benefits of active learning

Students working together in computing class

Active learning may be the key to positive student outcomes, according to a recent study. Researchers examined active learning in flipped and nonflipped biology classes and found that the students in both classes posted equivalent achievement at the end of the semester. T.H.E. Journal (3/3)

Can learning through play benefit all students?
Educators in early grades — and more recently middle grades — are incorporating play in learning, writes Hilary Conklin, an associate professor at DePaul University and fellow with the OpEd Project. She notes that recent research supports learning through play for all students, even high-schoolers. (3/3)

Insect study offers lessons in math, other core subjects
Some students in a Florida school district learned math, science and other core subjects by studying various insects. The project required students to work in groups during research and design presentations to share with peers and family. Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) (3/2)

Enrollment in teacher-training programs declines in some states
Several states are reporting drops in enrollment in teacher-training programs, including California, where enrollment has fallen by more than half over five years. Officials say the cause is unclear, but some point to issues such as the Common Core State Standards, high-stakes testing and limited budgets. National Public Radio/nprEd blog (3/3)

What are the components of a successful one-to-one program?
The implementation of a one-to-one program doesn’t mean all students need to have the same device, writes Bob Nelson, superintendent of schools for Chawanakee Unified School District in California. In this blog post, he highlights factors for a successful one-on-one program. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Education (3/3)

States’ opt-out policies for tests are in state of evolution, report finds
Policies and consequences for opting out of standardized tests are inconsistent across states, according to a recent study by the Education Commission of the States. “This is such a new issue, you could easily see how all of these policies are constantly evolving,” ECS researcher and study co-author Julie Rowland said. Education Week (tiered subscription model)/State EdWatch blog (3/3)

NCLB rewrite could allow local tests to replace state assessments
National Journal (3/2)

Research IDs barriers to physical activity in youths
Feeling self-conscious is the leading factor preventing children and teens from exercising, followed by a lack of enjoyment, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association meeting. However, researchers found that having friends who were physically active was associated with increased levels of physical activity.HealthDay News (3/3)

How We Respond to Our Choices

Jimmy Casas, High School Principal in Bennedorf IA, and yes, a twitter friend of mine, wrote a poignant blog today about how we make choices about our kids and how we respond to them.  You can read the blog here

I enjoyed the 10 Challenges at the end and I will highlight them here:

  1.  Bring your best to work every day, whatever your best may be that day. Be grateful that you get the opportunity to make a positive impact on a child every day!
  2. Give two minutes of your time to one student and one staff member every day. Be intentional with your time and then follow up with a quick word or note. The small things can make all the difference.
  3. Be empathetic.  Taking the time to understand, share, and be sensitive to another person’s feelings is critical in building a culture of trust.  Every student and staff member will face some sort of challenge at one time or another.
  4. Value the mistakes of others. Risk takers are born here. If you yourself make a mistake, own it, apologize, and work to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
  5. Model forgiveness – if you want to be an effective leader, be willing to sincerely accept an apology and move on. Believe that most people’s intentions are good.
  6. Understand you will not always see immediate results when working with kids. Be patient and think long term. Many are just testing a system which has failed them many times before you came into the picture.
  7. Have high standards for all kids every day. Do not make excuses for kids based on race, socio-economic class, environment or poor parenting, etc. Believe in all kids all of the time (it also helps if you love them all of the time too!)
  8. Acknowledge inappropriate behavior of kids. By not doing so we are sending a message that they are not worth it or we have given up. If we hesitate to correct poor behavior based on their response to us, we have become part of the problem.
  9. Not be negative. Constant complaining and being negative about kids, staff, work environment, etc. without offering a solution says more about us than it does about those who we are complaining about.  Bring positive energy every day.
  10. Take time to smile/laugh and encourage others to have fun. When it is no longer fun to go to work, it is time to do something else.

We have so much influence on our kids and with ourselves and with the way education is going, we cannot afford to forget that we are models for everyone.  We are educators and we are the leaders for our children and parents.  We also have to remember it’s not just about the CCSS.  Remember what Responsive Classroom preaches, that the social and emotional curriculum is just as important as the academic curriculum. 

This is my last Monday Focus until January.  I wish all of you a safe and restful holiday vacation with your families.  Enjoy the holidays and be safe.  Have a great week!


Other News:
  • Bus Duty for Dec 9 – Dec 20 Team 7:  Paula Bates, Marci Tyler, Sarah Pawananon Upcoming bus duty:  Jan 6 – Jan 17 Team 8:  Erin Gates, Beth Siebels, Gina Taylor.
  • Our next staff meeting is Tuesday, December 17th.  This is our Thank You Circle.  Please bring a dish to share and 5 $1.00 lottery tickets to put into a kitty and then we will all have a chance to pick 5.  The lucky winner treats all of us!!  
  • Please make sure you are checking your emails and website announcements.  Communication is key.
  • Please welcome Denise Croasdaile, to our staff.  She will be taking Barbie’s position for her maternity leave for the rest of the school year and will start this Monday.  
  • Congratulations to Barbie Gauthier and Megan Weldon! Two beautiful baby girls added to our East Side family!  YAY
Things Out in the Blogsphere
  • My friend Peter DeWitt is in California on sabbatical working with John Hattie and interviewing “big names” in education  Here is his his guest blogger, Jim Popham, writing about SLO’s.
  • Is Shanghai really number 1?  Check out this blog by the Brookings Institute and the PISA scores and the culture in China.  Eye opening to say the least 
  • Peter DeWitt also writes about School Climate and Learning.  Please check it out.
  • An interesting article about ADHD and profit.  
  • Diane Ravitch is interviewed on the CNN program “Your Money” here about the US education system and poverty, worth the three minutes to watch.
Things in the Twittersphere
A new state senate report calls for a ban on some tests and a delay on sharing student data with @inBloomEdu:…
David Steiner & Joel Klein disagreeing about if latest NAEP scores are good for NYS, which Steiner led. Klein says yes but Steiner demurs
  • What are the five things you are grateful for?  Make a list daily.  It does wonders!
  • Be the change agent for kids!  Be a champion for kids.  Every kid deserves a champion!
App of the Week:  The Google Apps Suite

If you haven’t explored what we offer via our Google Apps offerings from our accounts, then you don’t know what you are missing.  We purchased the Google site to use for educational purposes and boy, is it powerful.  For instance, within the Google Drive app, you have options to create a document, a spreadsheet, a presentation, a form and drawings.  What is really cool is that it allows for sharing between folks.  You can create a document and share this with others, allowing for collaboration and planning. 

I cannot live without the Calendar app.  If you haven’t used this, do so and get rid of your paper calendars.  Google Calendar is great and you can add folks onto the calendar if you want to make sure you invite folks to a meeting.  Lisa has been using it for scheduling your meetings with me we use it for scheduling as well as using it for the district calendar.  

Our district does not give us the option to use Google+ and some of the apps on the system so I opened my own private Google account.   It’s FREE folks and you have lots of options.  As you can see, I use Blogger to communicate with you.  I am using Blogger for this blog and my private blog.  It is free and allows for instant publishing for you and for your students.  Add a blog to your website for your parents.  Get your kids blogging.  What a great writing tool.  If I make a mistake, I can easily go back into this document and correct it, spelling grammar, you name it.  Actually, that happened a few times and I just simply go back and fix the mistakes, and poof, it’s done.  No retracting that Word document or redoing the document.  Plus, the blog post is kept on this blog and recorded.  ALL FREE!!  (I LIKE FREE!)

Google+ also has the option of Google Hangouts.  Hangouts are video or audio meetings with up to 10 people, like Skype, but more powerful than Skype and it’s FREE!!  You can have a Hangout with your grade level colleagues at home, share your screen and share your documents and talk and plan.  I use this often, planning for our #NYEDChat’s, planning for conference presentations, and meetings with various educators throughout the nation.  Below you can see us working in a Google Hangout planning session that was actually a Google Hangout on Air, a live chat where folks can hear and see what we are talking about.  We will be live on Monday at 8:30p.m. EST talking about the value of Educhat’s and why they are so important.  (I am the geek behind it and will be managing the tech end of the chat. That’s me in the corner right.  It should be interesting and very funny! You will need Google+ to see it!)

Media preview

Google also has a robust Google Play or store.  Again, this is only available through a private Google account.  You have access to apps, games, movies, music, similar to Itunes.  You can download apps onto your android devise, phone, as wells a Google Chrome, which is the web browser.

Here is something that is really cool:  This is beyond Google Apps.  
Check out Chrome Experiments here.  This is a showcase of Chrome experiments using Google codes.  Check out Zygote Body.  Awesome!

Google has a YouTube curriculum that you can share and work with your students.  It’s user friendly and can be used to teach digital citizenship.

Want some help and quick video tutorial on Google, check out these simple videos to help you with the Google platform here. 

I can go on and on about Google and what it can offer for productivity and for education.  Start exploring the power of what Google can offer you.  Enjoy!

Other Items of Interest

The 3-8 ELA and mathematics testing guides have been posted. Details about duration, booklets, and other minor changes are included.

The latest PISA results are out. Some say the sky is falling; others say not so fast. This video from AFT digs in to the results a little bit more. Thomas Freidman has a perspective, too.

What is missing from this list of 100 ways to let kids know that you care? Maybe there are some New Year’s Resolutions contained in this list – little things that can make a big difference.


This list of twelve ways to demonstrate respect in our interactions with others is good advice for adults – and students. It might be worthwhile to see what students make of the list and how they might contextualize it to their lives.


new chapter has been added to the Mission US site of interactive historical games. A Cheyenne Odyssey matches the study of westward expansion.


Grant Wiggins is taking a stand on teacher evaluation, including direct comments about New York, in this first post in a series. In this post he offers his requirements for an evaluation system: outcome-based; evidence-based; reliable; valid; transparent; honest; fair; growth focused; credible; feasible; and effective.
Museum and Library ImageThis whitepaper explains how museums and libraries teach the 4Cs (and other readiness skills).
You might hear the question: “How do I fit in PBL with everything else I have to do?” The answer is that PBL is the way you do it all in an engaging, meaningful way. Read this for a more thorough explanation.

Should the posting of objectives be mandated for every classroom? In many schools, this is an expectation. This column offers a different, “backwards-designed” perspective. The problem with posted objectives is that they often focus on the trees and not the forest when it is the forest that matters most.

Here is advice for parents about homework. It might help reduce the stress associated with homework.

Elementary School | ELA | Literacy | CCSS (Downloads)
Watch Ms. Schmidt demonstrate the way a read-aloud can be used to help emerging readers “close read” in an age-appropriate way.
Elementary School | ELA | Literacy | CCSS (Downloads)
You’ll enjoy how Ms. Stabrowski gives us a variety of ways to help readers interact with non-fiction, especially as they learn to annotate the text in order to hold and concentrate their understanding.
High School | History | Literacy | CCSS (Downloads)
You’ll love the way Ms. Thiebes uses both artwork and a clever strategy called the “Fab Five” to help readers focus in on key words that illuminate the rest of the text.


A Touch of Humor
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