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May 12, 2021

Super Hero Ninja Grader

It’s been over a week since I last checked in with you. I’m still over here in the piles of paperwork. If I had a super power I’d like to either have super speed or being a ninja, tackling all this grading. 

We finished state testing. We have 2.5 weeks until summer. 13 school days until the bell rings for blessed vacation. But yet, there is so much to do.  

This Friday is the cut off for grading. The report card portal opens tomorrow to start filling it in. I went lite with homework this week. We are taking tests (math and reading) during class, and the final projects for social studies and science are done in class too. Presentations, group things, etc. At least the stuff that is being graded. Really the kids are just needing to upload after class. They need a break, and a chance to catch up. I’m really tired of nagging. 

There have been a lot of missing assignments these last few weeks with state testing. We were still moving forward and having homework during asynchronous time. Some kids “seemed” to completely forget their responsibilities. I had recorded mini lessons to walk the kids through the material that they had to do independently. But even with daily and weekly reminders some still didn’t turn it in.

So my nagging moved next level with the weekly countdown of reminders to parents about due dates and cut offs. The reminder that I want to give credit and kids can redo assignments. That I care about their kid. That I know their kid can do better. 

Then I have been sticking the grades front and center in the kid’s private channels. Some don’t have their own access to view grades without their parents’ help. The reminder to the kids about GPAs and the award criteria. They want awards, which means they have the earn them. Finish strong...

Since we are standards based, we allow kids to redo assignments as they feel more confident to bump up their scores. It gives them motivation to succeed. Motivation to grow. Motivation to not give up, because grades aren’t set in stone until the cut off dates. 

I feel like I’m knee deep in strategy sessions with the kids. 

“Did you get a 3 last time? Well check the rubric one more time. Did you forget to do one part to extend your answer? Can you aim for a 4?”

“Did you get a 2 last time? You were so close to achieving proficiency. We’ve been reviewing that, want to try again?”

“Did you get a 1 last time? What have you been doing to learn that material better? Did you do all the parts of the question? Let’s reread the directions together.”

“I’d focus on your reading/math/writing scores... I know you know that now... Check the rubrics one more time, is there anything else you can add or change?” It makes my day when kids are popping onto our afternoon question sessions to want to improve. Maybe they will remember that motivation next year. 

But Friday is coming. And the moments of grading are almost complete, and I can celebrate them on the report cards. Then we can have some fun to wrap up the year.  Finish strong.

Hope you have a great day!

May 3, 2021

Virtual Mother's Day - 3 Free Ideas

Mother's Day is right around the corner! It's next Sunday, the day after my birthday.  I get the whole weekend to celebrate.  I'm just a tad excited.  :) It's probably because I'm a mom that I always like to make sure to do something for the parents in my class.  Or at least give the opportunity if kids want to create something.  

Last year when we were totally virtual and using Zoom, my class brainstormed ideas of things they could do around the house to help out.  They shared full class, gave us all ideas, and then they made a card or wrote a letter to their parents to say thank you.  I didn't have the option to secretly upload files into a virtual classroom for them to download.

This week while in class the kids are completing their math state tests.  That means that anything other than testing has to happen at home during their asynchronous times.  I wanted to share some resources that I've used in past years. This year I uploaded these files into our TEAMS account for kids to download if they need ideas for Mother's Day. They can print if they want, or just use them as inspiration. It's optional, but I do give them a spiel about how parents love to be loved.  Even by their 5th graders... or by their high schoolers... :) 

The Perfect Para has created this free Mother's Day resource.  It gives idea for kids to do with their mom and for their moms.  It's a challenge, and kids love challenges.  

Sarah Tighe has this Mother's Day freebie poem as well.  I always give the class a spiel about how as a mom I love this kind of stuff that shows what my kids are thinking.  Her sentence starters are absolutely great!

Amy Carver has this free Mother's Day Questionnaire. Questionnaires are just fun, yet they do bring tears to my eyes.  

I hope this helps. Hopefully next year we can go back to some art projects as well.  What are you doing for Mother's Day?

May 1, 2021

Deep Down Dog Tired

This time of year is not for the weak of heart. I’m exhausted, and just need to talk to people who totally get it. 

State testing vibes...

I know we are in the final stretch of this absolutely crazy year. I could barely drag myself out the door to school yesterday. I am just so done. 

I’m tired of pulling teeth. I’m tired of the apathy. I'm tired of having to be positive all the time. I’m tired with being on duty 24-7. I’m tired with all the paperwork. I’m tired of state testing. I’m tired of nagging. I’m tired of the Swiss cheese looking gradebook- full of holes.

It has never been this hard before.

It’s hard enough in a normal year to get kids to understand the importance of doing their best effort. Right now, virtually and with hybrid, it feels impossible.  I’ve gone from most turning in their work on time to now half my class. What changed? Spring break... they came back just done.

They are tired. Families are tired. I think everyone is over it.

We are 2/3 through state testing.

But we aren’t done yet. 20 more school days. 10 more days of grades then time to fill in the report cards. 5 more days until textbook check in starts. 4 more days of math state testing, then 4 days of Fast bridge testing. Then finally the last 2 weeks when we can have a little fun to wrap up the year.  

I ask them to finish strong. I put their grades in their private channels and remind them of their missing work. I hold afternoon question sessions to help with intervention, and no one shows up. I give opportunities to retake past district tests to show mastery. I email and Class Dojo. I don’t know if anyone reads what I write anymore. I’m so tired. 

20 more days. 20 more days to make a difference and shine a light with this group. To hold these kids accountable. Then they are in middle school. 

Every Thursday is Thankful Thursday. Every Thursday so many kids tell me that they are thankful for me. That makes me feel good. I’m thankful for them too. But I’m just so done. 

How can I finish strong?

I write that and verses pop in my head, things that I’ve read and memorized. I need to rest. I need to close the laptop and recharge. The Lord gives strength. 

Isaiah 40: 29-31 "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Isaiah 41:10b "I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

Where does my joy come from? It comes from the Lord, Maker of Heaven and Earth. Automatic response, but am I really living like it? Or am I trying to do every thing on my own strength? 

Thanks for letting me just talk and for being real.  I needed that today.  I'll get back to sharing the positives next time. There are positives right now too. Even when all hard things seem to be overwhelming.  

How are you doing?

I hope you have the most restful weekend.