Saturday, November 26, 2011

Handwriting Rubric

I am on a bit of an assessment kick lately. This is largely due to the fact that I am currently marking and commenting on my students' report cards.  I have always known this, but when my assessment is good, the comments I write are good (precise and individualized).  When my assessment practices are sound, I feel much more confident in the marks I give.   It sounds so simple when writing about it, but in the day to day grind so much can happen to divert our attention from getting, finding and giving proper assessments.  

Currently, I am really into self-assessments.  My students are so much more amazingly meta-cognitive and insightful when I turn the job of assessor over to them.  Which brings to my freebie for today...It is a handwriting rubric that my class and I created together.  I hope you will be able to use it and that is may benefit your students.

I don't know about you, but I can tell a student a hundred times what they need to do differently to improve their handwriting and they just don't ever do it.  However, when they are left to evaluate their handwriting, they are surprisingly knowledgeable about what they need to do in order to make their writing more readable and they actually do it.  

Handwriting Rubric 
Do you teach handwriting? I know some people feel that it very out-dated, as kids will probably type most of their communication in the future.  However, I still feel it is important to be able to write something people can read.  

Do you assess handwriting?  If so how?  I'd love to hear from you. 

Happy Thanksgiving weekend!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What I am thankful for...

I am hooking up with the Linky Party over at What The Teacher Wants.  Below are the things I am grateful for...

1.  What are you thankful for in your classroom?
Having a small class! (15 energetic kiddos)  It really is true that you can do so much more with a smaller class.  Class size DOES make a difference. 

2. What person are you most thankful for?
My husband, who constantly challenges me to relax and go with the flow, and without him, I wouldn't have my two gorgeous kiddos!!!
Our family in Koh Chang.

3. What 3 blogs are you most thankful for?

Oh, it is so hard to choose only 3, but here you go...
(Sorry I don't yet know how to 'grab a button')

4. What guilty pleasure are you most thankful for?
My almost weekly massages for only $5 - $10 and the fact that there are two spas in walking distance.  (I live in Thailand.)

5. What are you most thankful for?
I am very thankful for my health and the health of my family.  I am also incredibly lucky and thankful to have the most amazing nanny, who loves my children just as much as I do!

 Ya- Our Nanny extraordinaire!
Finally, I am very thankful for the teacher blogging world.  I love it!  Reading your blogs has made such a difference to my teaching, improving my practice, increasing my motivation and excitement, and not to mention providing me with all of your great teaching files!  I have learned so much from all of you.  Thank YOU!!! 


Monday, November 7, 2011

The Assessment Conundrum and maybe some help.

Assessment.  Ugh!  Do you find assessment a conundrum?  Taking good assessment and using it to make informed decisions in my teaching is a constant goal for me.  Last year, I took an assessment workshop and found out that I wasn’t alone.  Fitting in good assessment can sometimes take away from our precious teaching time.  Creating good assessments takes time and in many cases it comes out of our personal time.   Then there are the questions of how to use self-assessment and how to provide assessments for a variety of learning styles.

So, when we finally schedule in the proper time into our day to do a summative assessments, and we have created the perfect assessment, then we have to find time to evaluate it.  Usually, it is at this point that I run out of time (even working til 5 and coming in on the weekends). 

The last question inevitably comes… now I need to do something with the knowledge I have learned about my students’ abilities from this assessment.  How can I put what I have learned into practice?  Where can I fit it time to help those that didn’t quite show the progress I expected when I really need to move on to the next unit of study? 

Well, today, I might have found a few answers to these questions and I thought I might share what I am doing incase it might help you as you grapple with your assessment dilemmas. Click here to download an assessment sheet to use with your class.
Self-Assessment Record Sheet
So, today I am correcting my students’ self-assessments and written assessments from Unit 3 in Grade 2 Everyday Math.   I have the students’ self-assessments in front of me and I as I started to stamp them with the cute “Excellent” stamp that my kiddos love… it hits me that the way they view themselves as learners is really important information that I am just stamping, photocopying, sending home, and filing.  Isn’t there something else I could be doing with this information? 

So, I turn to the math assessment section of my plan book and I decide to record whether or not the student said they could explain it, do it themselves, or if they needed help.  It was at this point that I felt the worst… when I realized that kids actually put on the self assessment that they need help to do something, but I wasn’t going back to check in with them to see how they were going.  I wasn’t comparing if their views of themselves actually matched their skill level.  Were some children too confident, thus leading them to make mistakes? Were some too hard on themselves and not recognizing their talents?  Was there a skill that many children felt they needed help to complete?  

Analyze the results

So, my graph , pictured below, turned out like this…  I wrote the words explain, myself, and help under each of the skills in black pen.  I highlighted each help word and created small groups based on the skill.  I also calculated the totals of each to see if there was a skill that maybe I needed to continue to highlight in the future.  This was very interesting to me as I though this was an area where the students would be most confident.   I will alter the pre-made Math Messages, and Mental Math to meet my kids needs by providing more addition practice at the beginning of each math lesson, when we do our math warm-up and math message. 

Next, I realized that the test covered these same skills as the self-assessment and I put an A (adequate progress) or MP (more practice needed) or NY (not yet) in the same box.  It showed me that one student who thought she needed help could actually do all the skills, so I plan to talk with her and help build her confidence in math. 

So, what will I do?  Well, I know the theory behind the Everyday Math Program is that the skills will continue to come up, but I am going to do a few things to help my students and push their progress…
·      I am going to integrate graphing in to unit of inquiry time (Science and Social Studies) as this was an area that the kids were week in
·      As the students are working on their math boxes, I am going to meet with individuals to discuss their assessments and give them their assessments to take home.  (I will also file a copy to help me write report card comments.)
·      Another idea I have, and am not so sure how I’ll implement it, is to use this information for the students to make their own Math goals. 

Plan your next steps...

If you have figured out answers to these questions, in your own way, I would love to hear from you.  Or even if you hadn’t, I would love to hear about how you implement the teaching, learning, assessment cycle in your own class!

I hope you enjoy the assessment sheet and let me know if you would like it in a word document to alter for your class.  
Happy teaching,

Friday, November 4, 2011

Learning How To Create a Blog

Welcome!  Thank you for visiting my blog.  

I am very nervous and excited to join this community of teacher bloggers.  I have been so inspired by other teacher bloggers that I final mustered the courage up to begin my own blog.  However, it took a while to actually start posting.  Attending a Virtual Teaching Expo gave me the final push and here it is finally... my first post.  

So this will be my very first share...  If you are new to blogging and want to learn more, you must go to  You will be inspired by:

Following blogs has not only helped me to work smarter (not harder!) by providing me amazing ideas and adorable resources, it has also rekindled my love of teaching, and infused my passion with an excitement that I can't contain.  I hope, as I venture out on this blogging journey, that I may be able to do the same for you.  

Happy teaching and learning,