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The Rookie Teacher



It’s that time again, Ontario Teachers! 0

Posted on January 17, 2015 by Natasha

4TIPS FOR WRITING REPORT CARDS

That’s right. Time to get out the assessment and evaluation binders, your anecdotal notes, observation records, and conference guides.  Term 1 is coming to an end here in Ontario, and elementary teachers are going to be hard at work planning and prepping the school day and writing report cards.

This means taking a good look at our kids. How they are progressing in all their academics. But more importantly, their Learning Skills.  Since September, how have they been developing these life long learning skills? From organization to self-regulation, responsibility to collaboration, independent work to initiative, it’s our job to evaluate.

I must admit, this time of year sometimes brings me to an odd place, where I contemplate how we assess — I often find it hard to assign ONE final grade, ONE final “E”, “G”, “S”, or “N.” But alas, it’s our job.

On top of an evaluation, our comments are what truly paint a picture of each student and give families a look into life in Kindergarten to Grade 8.

Thankfully, there are strategies, tips, and tricks to thrive
during report card writing time as a Rookie:

  1. Ask for help. Get in touch with a mentor, teaching partner, grade or division team and collaborate. We talk to our kids about the power of collaboration – so let’s not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. Most experience teachers will have a comment bank that can be tweaked or edited to reflect the current school year. If not, starting from scratch with a team is also an option – after all, 2 heads are better than 1.
  2. Reach out to your PLN (i.e., Ask for help 2.0). If you are involved in NTIP, Facebook groups, or have contacts in the industry – get in touch with them. They can either provide you with some help first hand, or encourage you through this time of writing.
  3. Check for school board or ministry documents. Each year, my school board publishes a great”Guide to Creating Meaningful Report Card Comments.” In this document, teachers are informed about formatting, qualifiers, language, and balancing Strengths & Next Steps.
  4. Search Online. There are other guides available out there.  About a year ago, I came across a site called Student Evaluator. “The Student Evaluator was created by teachers, for teachers. An idea that began over 5 years ago, the Student Evaluator has brought together a team of teachers, learning advisers, web design specialists, and software engineers to create an evaluation tool for teachers. We realized that there had to be a better and more efficient way to accurately assess and create report cards for our students, and so we built software to do just that.” I have used their service to help me create meaningful comments.  


Until the end of January, Student Evaluator is offering our
readers a 20% discount by using the code JAN15.
 

Student Evaluator

Happy Writing, Rookie!
Reach out to the Rookie Teacher Team if you need

someone to talk to about Report Cards or any other EduQuestion.

Comment below, join us on Facebook.com/TheRookieTeacher, or send us
a Tweet @RookieTeacherCA & sign up for our Newsletter!

 

 

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Giving Feedback Part 2 0

Posted on December 18, 2011 by Andrew Blake

photo by: Generationbass.com, flickrcc.net

As a teacher who is focused on giving effective feedback to my students, I find the biggest obstacle is time, and I use organization to help maintain levels of feedback in my class.  Here are some strategies I have gathered to help with time/organization:

Treasure Books: Each student maintains a small workbook/notebook  of the feedback when we conference. We use the same 3 part feedback, and both the student and I write in the book. I also staple/glue conferencing assessment sheets we might do together (to essentially create an anecdotal notebook for each kid).

Daily Conferences: I have assigned students to each day of the week, in the same order, so I can ensure I either meet with all four of them as a group for guided instruction, or have a student-lead conference on a individual basis.

Blastoff

photo by: jurvetson, flickrcc.net

Success Criteria: Students help create checklists and visuals for their own work and then we use them. Each checklist is interactive based on the criteria of the assignment. For example in an assignment on re-telling a fiction story, you could have the student circle their setting in yellow, underline the resolution of the conflict in purple, etc.

What do you do to organize your time so that is most productive for you and your students?  Leave a comment below or join the discussion on Facebook.

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Giving Feedback Part 1 0

Posted on November 20, 2011 by Andrew Blake

Giving feedback, and in particular specific and actionable feedback, is the big push as a goal for teachers in my school as well as our Board. As an opener to the topic at our most recent PD Day, one of the principals shared this analogy made by the comedian Jerry Seinfeld…

“I always did well on essay tests. Just put everything you know on there, maybe you’ll hit it. And then you get the paper back from the teacher and she’s written just one word across the entire page, ‘vague.’ I thought vague was kind of vague. I’d write underneath it ‘unclear’ and send it back. She’s return it to me, ‘ambiguous’. I’d send it back to her, ‘cloudy’. We’re still corresponding to this day…. hazy…. muddy…” Jerry Seinfeld

As a Primary Teacher, our Grade team created a framework that we shared with our students to make sure they understood our feedback and could use it to help inform and improve their learning. We made it with a visual diagram and used common language in the hope that students would be able to use it on their own.

Our analogy breaks our feedback into three parts, on the theme of Pirates and Treasure.

secret by MistoAcrilico

Secret by MistoAcrilico (flickr)

First, we look for “Treasure” in what they have done: the things really stand out as amazing aspects of a student’s written work.

Second, we look for the “X Marks the Spot”: where could students find their next treasure (one thing they could improve on).

Finally (and what I would say is the most important aspect) is the “Map”: we as teachers have to give them advice and direction on how to get to the next set of “Treasures”.

We are currently in the process of gradually releasing that idea to the students to see if they can self or peer assess using that framework. I’ll let you know how it works over the next few weeks in my classroom.

In my next post I’ll list other acronyms, mnemonic devices and strategies for feedback that were presented at the PD Day.

Looking forward to your feedback!
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Mini Series: Teaching Overseas (1a of 4) 1

Posted on November 10, 2011 by Natasha

Teaching Overseas is something that has crossed many Rookie minds.  The end of your B.Ed year is near, and you’re thinking about going global…You’re finding that the provincial job market feels rather saturated but you’re absolutely itching to start teaching…You enjoy teaching, you enjoy travelling, so why not do both!  It is our goal that, by telling Jenn’s story, some of your questions may be answered and that your excitement for teaching abroad be affirmed.

Without further ado, it is my pleasure to introduce our newest (and furthest) Rookie, Jenn Graham.

Jennifer Graham

photo: Jennifer Graham

Hiya pals! I’m Jenn and I’m rocking my rookie year across the pond. I wouldn’t change this experience for anything… except maybe the odd double double! For the next 10 months, I’m a full time teacher in an inner city, single sex Catholic secondary school in East London. The gals know me as their science, math, and phys ed teacher. After graduating from Brock’s con-ed program with a BSc, I’m totally qualified… right?! Regardless, I’m learning everyday. From structuring peer assessment effectively to learning the latest pop n’ glide steps, I’m stoked to share my experiences and welcome your feedback. Cheerio!

Comment on the blog or follow her on twitter @JGrahamed.

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